RSS

Tag Archives: holiday

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?

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hymn History: All Saints Day

November 1 is All Saints Day, a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations. It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween, but is far more important in the life of the church.

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.”

This may sound odd. United Methodists don’t believe in saints. Right?

Well, yes… and no.

Wesley cautioned against holding saints in too high regard.The Articles of Religion that he sent to the Methodists in America in 1784, include a statement against “invocation of saints” (Article XIV—Of Purgatory, Book of Discipline ¶104). Wesley did not see biblical evidence for the practice and discouraged Methodists from participating.

However, he also advised against disregarding the saints altogether.

In an All Saints Day journal entry dated Monday, November 1, 1756, Wesley writes, “How superstitious are they who scruple giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints!” If your 18th century English is as rusty as mine, it might help to know that the word scruple means, “to be unwilling to do something because you think it is improper, morally wrong, etc.” (Merriam-Webster.com).

All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church.

From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on.

Charles Wesley, John’s brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist Hymnal as “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above,” #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages:

Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone,
for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.

On All Saints Day we remember all those—famous or obscure—who are part of the “communion of saints” we confess whenever we recite The Apostles’ Creed. We tell the stories of the saints “to glory gone.”

Alongside the likes of Paul from the New Testament, Augustine, Martin Luther, and John and Charles Wesley, we tell stories of the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital, and the neighbor who changed the oil in the family car. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the kindergarten Sunday school teacher who showered us with that love, and the woman in the church who bought us groceries when we were out of work.

Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be.

Charles Wesley’s hymn tells us those “to glory gone” are joined by the “saints on earth,” whom we also celebrate on All Saints Day. We think of the inspirational people with whom we worship on Sunday, and those across the world we will never meet. We celebrate fellow United Methodists who inspire us, and those of other denominations whose lives encourage us. We give thanks for those with whom we agree, as well as those whose views we do not share.

Additionally, we remember and pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ who faithfully follow Jesus in places where being labeled a Christian puts them in harm’s way.

On All Saints Day, we recognize that we are part of a giant choir singing the same song. It is the song Jesus taught his disciples; a tune that has resonated for more than 2,000 years; a melody sung in glory and on the earth. Our great privilege is to add our voices to this chorus.

The last verse of “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above” encourages us to sing faithfully while on earth, so we might join the heavenly chorus one day.

Our spirits too shall quickly join, like theirs with glory crowned,
and shout to see our Captain’s sign, to hear His trumpet sound.

O that we now might grasp our Guide! O that the word were given!
Come, Lord of Hosts, the waves divide, and land us all in heaven.

On All Saints Day, let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have led us to Jesus. As they have shared the gospel with us, may we add our voices so someone else may hear about the grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God for the lives of his saints.

Adapted from https://www.umc.org/en/content/all-saints-day-a-holy-day-john-wesley-loved

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 1, 2022 in Holidays, Hymn History, Posts of Interest

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dick Van Dyke reads “The Winner”

A young Native-American boy and a Franciscan priest learn the true meaning of Christmas during a holiday party at a reservation mission.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2021 in Posts of Interest, Videos

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Advent Wreath — Chuck Knows Church

Advent

Sunday, November 28,  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.

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?

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Memorial Day 2020

memorial-day

 

 

A UMNS Report by Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

From sea to shining sea, United Methodists are finding special ways to observe Memorial Day in the United States. Here is a sampling of ideas.

  1. Pray for all who have given their lives for our freedom. “The major emphasis of the Memorial Day worship time,” said the Rev. Alan Brown, Hayes Memorial United Methodist Church, Fremont, Ohio, “is not on a secular observance; rather, it is the message of the gospels and the sacraments of the church.”
  2. Read the names of fallen veterans, and toll a bell after each name is read. The Rev. Walter L. Graves encourages people to read the names when they see a war memorial. “Remember,” said the pastor of Reelsboro United Methodist Church, New Bern, N.C., “that was a person who had… dreams and desires.”
  3. Provide special worship music with a PowerPoint presentation. “My church has a slide show of friends and family, living and dead, who have served in the military,” reported Leslie Haggs, lay leader at Angelica United Methodist Church in New York.
  4. Offer a candlelight service. Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Annual (regional) Conference will preach at joint services of three congregations — Mount Wesley and New Victory, Telford, Tenn., and Mayberry, Jonesborough, Tenn. A candlelight service for those interred in the church cemetery will be part of worship.
  5. Wave a flag. Youth of First United Methodist Church, Koppel, Pa., raised money to buy an American flag for all 225 residences in the little town. “I’m a flag-waver,” admitted the Rev. Donald A. Anderson. Quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he expressed hope that the flags would “bring Koppel a sense of pride in participating in this great holiday honoring those who fought to protect our freedoms.”

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

  6. Lay a wreath. In Illinois, Malta United Methodist Church will have a special worship service. The congregation invites veterans of the community to pay tribute to fellow soldiers by marching as a unit from the church to the township library, where a wreath will be dedicated.
  7. Decorate veterans’ graves. “After Sunday service,” said the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., a local pastor serving three congregations in the Lynchburg, Va., area, “we go into the church cemetery, remove the old flags placed on the graves of veterans last Memorial Day and replace them with new ones…We remember our active-duty military every Sunday during prayer.”
  8. Do a project for active troops. In Maine, the North Searsport United Methodist Church is recruiting the community to join parishioners in a mission project to benefit soldiers going overseas. Participants will sew small pillows for military personnel. The project is in response to recent articles about soldiers having to pay for pillows on their flights.
  9. Make military care packages.  The congregation of First United Methodist Church, Alice, Texas, brought items for military care packages to mail to troops serving overseas. “Many of us have loved ones who are serving in the military,” member Stefany Simmons explained. “Each of us signed cards to include for the troops.”
  10. Be part of a community-service day. Manatee United Methodist Church is one of two Bradenton, Fla., locations for the Journey of Remembrance, an annual community-service day honoring U.S. military veterans and their families for their care and sacrifice.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

  11. Learn about issues affecting veterans. At Christ United Methodist Church, Troy, N.Y., a guest speaker will focus on the history and social justice issues related to military mental illness. “At Christ Church,” said the Rev. Nina Nichols in the Bennington Banner, “we honor those who serve their country, who served with the hope of bringing justice on behalf of our nation. But as a people of faith, we must not fail to call for a better way to peace than war. This Memorial Day we pray for peace for the war-weary.”
  12. Glorify Jesus as the Prince of Peace and reach out to those whom others may forget. On Memorial Day – as he does throughout the year – John Alexander, a member of East Lake United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Ala., will be involved with Kairos Prison Ministries. A Christian, lay-led, ecumenical, volunteer, international prison ministry, Kairos brings Christ’s love and forgiveness to incarcerated individuals and their families.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., 615-742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

From http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/twelve-ways-to-observe-memorial-day

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: