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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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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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Psalms

Chuck Knows Church

 

The Psalms are right in the middle of your Bible. You could think of the Psalms as the hymnbook of sacred scripture. But, is that all you know?

 

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Hymn History: Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings. Name them, one by one.

This simple mandate for cultivating gratitude and thanksgiving is the opening line in the catchy chorus of “Count Your Blessings,” a church music staple first published more than a century ago.

All these years later, the four verses and chorus can be summed up this way: Counting your blessings may be the antidote to feeling disheartened.

The remaining line of the chorus implores you to, after counting and naming the blessings, to “see what God has done.”

The faithful act of assessing blessings and acknowledging what God has provided in your life may give perspective when challenges and conflicts occur, as the four verses detail (see sidebar).

The author of these song lyrics acknowledges that you can feel burdened and life can seem unfair. So can counting your blessings really help when turmoil swirls around you and discouragement weighs heavy on your mind?

Such was the case for Jacob, who, in Genesis 28, is fleeing from his angry brother, Esau. When Jacob stopped for the night at a place he would later name “Bethel,” Jacob was in the midst of a bad situation. He was alone, scared and had nowhere to go. He also had no idea about how his circumstances might turn out. That night in a dream, God reassured Jacob that He was with him, that He had a plan for Jacob’s life and that He would not leave him. Jacob awoke the next morning with a change of heart and life didn’t seem so bad. “Surely the Lord is in this place,” Jacob said, “and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16)

Numerous stories in the Bible remind you to look beyond your circumstances to see you are not alone, that “the Lord is in this place,” providing anecdotal evidence of the importance of gratitude.

In addition to the anecdotal proof, the virtues of gratitude have been proven by science.

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the test group was asked to daily write down five things for which they were thankful. After doing this every day for one week, the test group reported better sleep patterns and a more positive emotional outlook than the control group.

Members from Perryville United Methodist Church in Perryville, Kentucky, perform “Count Your Blessings.”

Whether the song’s author was battling tough times when he wrote the lyrics is unknown. What we do know is that Johnson Oatman Jr., the lyricist, was a Methodist Episcopal minister who had a penchant for songwriting. “Count Your Blessings,” intended as a song for youth, first appeared in “Songs for Young People,” which was published in 1897 by the Methodist Book Concern, a precursor to The United Methodist Publishing House. Over Oatman’s life, he penned more than 5,000 songs, including the classic hymn “No, Not One.”

For “Count Your Blessings,” Oatman partnered with E.O. Excell, who put Oatman’s words to music. Excell operated a Chicago-based publishing business specializing in Sunday School materials and collaborated with the Methodists for numerous projects. Fun fact about Excell is that he is the same person who wrote the arrangement of “Amazing Grace” that is most often sung throughout the world today.

But back to “Count Your Blessings.”

Once “Songs for Young People” was published, “Count Your Blessings” became a favorite, quickly gaining popularity throughout the world.

Beginning in 1899, only two years after its debut, “Count Your Blessings” appeared in at least half-dozen or more new hymnals each year, a pace that continued for at least a decade. The song was added to hymnals published by the Methodists, Presbyterians, Disciples and southern gospel publishers. Even into the mid-20th century, the song continued to be a favorite.

The song was especially popular in the United Kingdom. During the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival, the largest Christian revival in Wales during the 20th century, it is told that “Count Your Blessings” was sung at every service.

One account from a London daily newspaper says that when the famous British evangelist Gipsy Smith presided over a meeting, he announced a hymn, saying, “Let us sing ‘Count Your Blessings.’ Down in South London, the men sing it, the boys whistle to it, and the women rock their babies to sleep to the tune.”

In addition to the upbeat, simple tune that people have found easy to remember, its message has been uplifting folks for generations.

“Like a beam of sunlight,” wrote J.H. Hall, Oatman’s biographer, in “Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers, “(’Count Your Blessings’) has brightened up the dark places of the earth.”

Crystal Caviness works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email or at 615-742-5138.

This story was first published November 14, 2019. 

From https://www.umc.org/en/content/count-your-blessings-an-antidote-to-despair

 

 

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