Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Season of Advent

Our busy weekend had a beautiful pause Sunday morning as we experienced our first "Hanging of the Greens" at a new church we've been visiting.  It was a wonderful mix of our traditions with beautiful additions, all accompanied by treasured songs of the season. 

I was instantly put at peace when the pianist began to play, "Mary Did You Know?" - my favorite Christmas song.  Though only the tune flowed from the piano solo, those familiar words stirred my heart.  A spirit hug followed when we stood to sang the first song, "Joy to the World" and I was flooded with sweet memories of my Grandpa Coons.  We enjoyed watching the little children place the greenery and decorations throughout the church and listening to the scripture and stories which followed.  I found it fitting for a family of God to join in such a tradition, normally only shared among individual households.

As the preacher began speaking of the advent candle and lit the first, Noah leaned in and whispered, "Do they celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas here?" and I had to stifle my chuckle, motioning for him to listen to the meaning.  I was interested to, as although this church is the same faith as ours, "Baptist" churches are varied and our former never participated in this tradition.  Only one candle was lit, representing HOPE.  I watched this tiny yet powerful little flame and reflected on all that it stood for. 

Upon coming home, I found this explanation online fitting...

The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others (Isa 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshippers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the hope and promise of long ago have been realized. - http://www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html

What a wonderful way to count down and focus the season and celebration of the birth of Jesus.  I can't wait for our family to experience this new custom each week leading up to Christmas!

Tune in tomorrow for the start of the "12 ______ of Christmas"!!


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