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Category Archives: Holidays

Today Is the Beginning of Advent

Advent

Today, November 27, 2022  is the First Sunday in Advent.

The first Candle of the Advent Wreath is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, on November 27 this year. It is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus’ coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born. The candle’s purple color represents Christ’s royalty as the King of Kings.

Suggested Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Chuck Knows Church — ADVENT WREATH. Four candles in a circle with a big one in the middle? Yep, take a moment and learn the basics about the advent wreath. And why is the pink candle…pink?

 

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All About the Advent Wreath, Week One

Sunday, November 27, 2022  is the First Sunday in Advent.   I’m skipping a couple of the Chuck Knows Church episodes because this one is so timely.  We’ll get back to the others after Christmas.

The first Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. It is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus’ coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born. The candle’s purple color represents Christ’s royalty as the King of Kings.


The Advent wreath began as a German and Scandinavian home devotional practice used to mark the four weeks of Advent. Families would light a candle for each past week and the current week at their dinner or evening time of prayer. The configuration of candles, whether in a line or a circle, did not matter. Neither did the color of the candles (all colors are used in homes in Europe). What mattered was the marking of time and the increase of light each week in the face of increasing darkness as the winter solstice approached.

As Advent wreaths began to be used by congregations on Sundays in some places in Europe and America beginning in the late 19th century, several adaptations were made to make them work better in public worship spaces. Candles needed to be larger and more uniform than the “daily candles” handmade or purchased for home use. They also needed to be more uniform in color to fit with other décor in the sanctuary. That is why candles used in the Advent wreath are usually purple or blue, to coordinate with color of the paraments used during this season.

This shift in context from home to public use also made it important in the eyes of some for the candles to be given a meaning more that simply marking time and  increasing light. This led to special ceremonies being developed for lighting these special candles each week.

As this practice began to catch on by the mid-twentieth century, several church supply houses who sold Advent wreaths and candles for public worship also developed resources, banners, and bulletin covers assigning a theme to each week, and thus each candle, based on scriptures from the one-year lectionaries used at that time. Those themes were Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, in that order.

Today, almost no one uses those one-year lectionaries, so those themes may not always fit the scriptures we hear in worship. The one exception is the Third Sunday of Advent, where the current lectionaries have continued to support the centuries old observance of “Gaudete” or “Joy Sunday.” That is why church supply houses often offer rose or pink colored candles for the wreath for use on this day.

So how may we talk about the meaning of the Advent wreath today?

We can reclaim the original home use of marking time with the hope of increasing light as we await the return of Christ, that day when “The city no longer has need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it, because the glory of God illumines it, and its lamp is the lamb.”

And we can develop meanings or themes for each week based on the focus of the scriptures themselves. After all, the candles and the wreath are an accessory, not an end in themselves. Their meaningfulness comes from how we use them to point toward Christ, the world’s true light, who was, and is, and is to come.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.


Suggested Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Chuck Knows Church — ADVENT WREATH. Four candles in a circle with a big one in the middle? Yep, take a moment and learn the basics about the advent wreath. And why is the pink candle…pink?

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2022 in Advent, Holidays, Posts of Interest, Videos

 

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Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving
Psalm 100:4:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

 

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Hymn History: We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.

The Pender UMC Traditional Service Middle Hymn “We Gather Together” on Thanksgiving Sunday November 20, 2022 was played by Liz Eunji Moon on piano, Teresa Rothschild on clarinet, Brian Stevenson on flute and sung the Pender Sanctuary Choir and congregation.

In many American hymnals, “We gather together” appears as a Thanksgiving hymn. Perhaps this is because of the opening line and the general idea that God is with us regardless of our circumstances. However, the hymn speaks more about God’s providence throughout the trials of life. The story behind this hymn clarifies its text.

This hymn is a late sixteenth-century expression of celebration of freedom by The Netherlands from Spanish oppression. Like many older hymns, it finds its way to us through a circuitous route. Although listed as an anonymous hymn, some sources indicate that Adrianus Valerious (c. 1575-1625), known for his poems on the Dutch War of Independence from the perspective of a peasant, authored the original text in Dutch. Since making a living as a poet was not possible, Valerious had a prosperous career as the Toll and Customs Controller for Veere, eventually being promoted to Tax Collections and finally appointed to the City Council.

The hymn was first published in Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (1626), a collection by Valerius in Haarlem, focusing on folk poems and melodies on the Dutch Wars (1555-1625). Valerius collected and arranged the songs for this publication for 30 years until his death in 1625. This collection is not as important for its poetry as it was for understanding the Protestant attitudes of the day. The work’s significance was exemplified by its adoption in Zeeland as part of the religious education curriculum in homes and the church.

Austrian Edward Kremser (1838-1914) included the hymn in Sechs Altniederländische Volkslieder (Six Old Netherlands Folksongs) in 1877 for his men’s chorus, all six anonymous songs taken from the Valerius collection 250 years earlier. According to UM Hymnal editor te Rev. Carlton Young, the performance of these tunes led to their popularity and inclusion in many hymnals.

The story extends to the United States through Theodore Baker (1851-1934), a New York-born musicologist who studied in Leipzig and authored the famous Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Baker translated the hymn from German for an anthem entitled “Prayer for Thanksgiving” published in 1894. Baker is the source of the hymn’s traditional Thanksgiving connection in the United States.

The Dutch, long a stronghold for the Reformed theology of John Calvin, were in a struggle against Spain for their political independence and against the Catholic Church for religious freedom. A twelve-year truce was established in 1609, giving young Prince Frederick Henry a chance to mature into an able politician and soldier.

During this time, the Dutch East India Company extended its trade beyond that of the English. The high period of Dutch art flourished with Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. Under the guidance of the Prince Frederick Henry’s leadership, Spain’s efforts to regain supremacy on land and sea were finally overcome in 1648. There was indeed much for which to be thankful.

Some of the political overtones in this hymn faithfully translated by Baker are apparent. Hymnologist Albert Bailey suggests that the phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” is an allusion to the persecution of the Catholic Church under the policies of Spain. Thousands had been massacred and hundreds of homes burned by the Spanish in 1576 during the Siege of Antwerp.

In stanza two, the writer states, “so from the beginning the fight we were winning,” stressing that Protestants had always been assured of winning the cause. The truce of 1609 proved that the Lord “wast at our side.”

The final stanza is a series of petitions . . .

” …pray that thou still our defender will be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

This is an eschatological stanza. The ultimate battle has not been won and will not be won until all battles cease.

The hymn gained recognition in the United States when it found its way into the hymnal of the Methodist-Episcopal Church in 1935. The popularity increased during World War II when singers connected “the wicked oppressing” to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. More recently, the “We Gather Together” was featured at the Funeral Mass for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1994.

An interesting sidebar was that Baker’s anthem inspired another hymn. A young Julia Cady Cory (1882-1963) heard this text in 1902 at her church, Brick Presbyterian in New York City. Cory’s “We praise thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator” is a more general hymn of praise and thanksgiving that also uses the Dutch tune KREMSER. Cory’s hymn did not include any reference to nationalism, making it a more general ecumenical hymn of thanksgiving.

The United Methodist Hymnal has placed this hymn in the “Providence” section rather with other traditional American Thanksgiving hymns, broadening its use from this national holiday to use during any difficult circumstances.

Dr. Hawn is distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology. He is also director of the seminary’s sacred music program.

From https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-we-gather-together1

 
 

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Making an Advent Wreath

This Sunday, November 27, marks the First Sunday in Advent. Have you made an Advent wreath for your home or church?

The wreaths often consist of a circle of evergreens with four purple candles and a white one in the center, but it’s fun to  be creative with the use of natural materials.

More about Advent Wreaths from Chuck Knows Church

 

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