November 27, 2022 Worship Readings
**1st Sunday of Advent**
The Meaning of Christmas
As we begin the Christian year, we also celebrate the Holy season known as Advent. It is a time when we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah. Advent means "coming". We celebrate these days of advent in expectation and preparation for Christ's arrival.
The Advent season is a time for reflection and preparation, but its mood is joyful. Advent makes innkeepers of us all, asking each one of us to make room for the arrival of Christ the King. Let us, today, prepare Him room in our hearts, our lives and our homes.
**4 Verses of Hymn #239 [Hark the Glad Sound]
The Advent Candles with its wreath
Advent is a time of expectation, and this this symbolized not only by the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent candle on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds is, the worshipers, that something is happening, and something more is to come.
The four candles are arranged in a circle on our wreath to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows neither beginning nor ending.
There is also symbolism in the colours of the candles. The three blue or purple candles symbolize the coming of Christ from the royal line of David. He is coming as the King of Kings as well as the Prince of Peace. The fourth candle is pink and is to be lighted on the fourth Sunday of the Advent season.
Each candle symbolizes various aspects of our waiting experience. For us we are focusing on four ideas of the Christmas event: 1) Hope, 2) Peace, 3) Joy, 4) Love
The culmination of the season comes as we light the white Christ candle on Christmas Eve. We join in rejoicing that the promise of long ago has been fulfilled.
We now light Advent Candle one [blue]
**1 Verse of Hymn #277 [A Candle is Burning]
The Sanctuary Greens
The most striking and the most universal feature of Christmas is the use of evergreens in churches and homes. Among the anicent Romans evergreens were and emblem of peace, joy, and victory. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home. Holly and ivy, along with pine, and fir are called evergreens because they never change colour. They are ever-green, ever-alive, even in the midst of winter. They symbolize the unchanging nature of our God. and they remind us of the everlasting life that is ours through Christ Jesus.
In Isaiah 60:13 we find these words: "The Glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the cypress, to beautify the place of my sanctuary."
**3 Verses of Hymn #290 [Go Tell It on the Mountain]
The Christmas Tree
Evergreens have been used in many cultures since ancient times to symbolize rebirth. Their use around winter solstice symbolized life in the midst of death.
In the Middle Ages, Christian people celebrated the story of Adam and Eve by putting a Paradise tree in their homes. This fir tree was decorated with apples, Communion wafers, and gold and silver. The tree represented the Tree of Life, original sin, and redemption through Christ.
Around the same time, there was also a tradition of a Christmas light - a large candle that was lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize Christ as the 'Might of the world." In Western Germany, several smaller candles were lit and put on a wooden pyramid.
These two symbols were eventually combined. Today, when we see a Christmas tree, we see Jesus as the light of the world who brings us life and hope by taking away our sin.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Most Christmas greenery reflects European traditions. But one colourful plant, which looks like a flaming star, the poinsettia, is native to the American continent. The people of Mexico and Central America call the brilliant tropical plant the "Flower of the Holy Night". The Poinsettia is a many-pointed star that has become a symbol of the
Star of Bethlehem.
The Paraments and Advent Colours
Art has always been an important way to communicate the Christian faith. The use of music has helped believers understand their Godly hope. Other art works have been used from the beginning to express various aspects of Christian doctrine and life. Colours, altar paraments or coverings, and banners are some of the most important visual ways Christians have used to express their faith in worship. In early days of
Christian worship. Advent and Christmas were seen as a somber time, much like Lent is today. Purple table coverings were used to speak of Christ's kingship, but the mood was somber.
As Christians began to share their celebration of Christmas with their non-Christian neighbours they began to focus on the joy of the Christmas event. As the emphasis of Christmas began to change to one of joyful celebration the colour used also changed to express Christ the King in that more happy way. While purple is still used in some churches and at certain times, many Christian churches now use blue as we do to speak of the Kingship of Christ when the occasion is so joyful. At Advent we wait with anticipation and celebration for our coming Christ.
**2 Verses of Hymn #257 [O Come, O Come, Emmanuel]
One of the most heart-warming expressions of Christmas is the Nativity. The Nativity speaks of the mystery of God's wisdom. Why God chose to send his son into our world as a baby of humble birth, born in common surroundings, we do not know. What we do know is that God reached out to all people including the poor and wealthy, the
simple and the wise, the powerless and the powerful. All who found him knelt in humility before him. Knowing God is possible because he came to us, at our level. Whenever we see a Nativity, we find ourselves with Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wise men, bowing down before the manager, overwhelmed by God's expression
of love in coming to us. Today we display a nativity in our sanctuary and outside in front of our church.
**Verses 1 & 2 of Hymn #279 [O Little Town of Bethlehem]
The Gifts of Christmas
From the beginning of Christmas celebrations, gift giving has been a part of the season. The Wise Men gave out of their treasures, and the Shepherds gave of themselves. Both express the gift of God In giving Christ as the Saviour of the world. Christ came as a babe In Bethlehem as God's gift at Christmas. As Christians we seek to pass on our heritage to our children and to those who, by faith in Christ, become part of the Family of God. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and mine that the Gift goes on
The actual origin of caroling as a part of the Christmas celebration Is really unknown. From the first, music of some kind was part of the church festivals in honour of the birth of Jesus. We know that caroling existed in Germany in the 15"^ century because Martin Luther wrote that when Christmas was celebrated he went with others from house to house and village to village singing popular Christmas carols. We could safely assume that caroling was first done by the Choir of Angels who sang, "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace and good will to all people."
**1 Verse of Hymn #289 [Angels we have heard on high]