Hanging of the Greens

Hanging of the Greens

First Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2018


Prelude                                   We invite you to take time for silence.




The Bells _                                                                                                   


Psalm 150

          Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord!

Praise him in his Temple and in the heavens he made with mighty power. Praise him for his mighty works. Praise his unequaled greatness. Praise him with the trumpet and with lute and harp. Praise him with the drums and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and horns. Praise him with the cymbals, yes, loud clanging cymbals.

Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! You praise him!



The Good News of Christ’s birth have always included the ringing of bells! By the Middle Ages, around the year 800, the pealing of bells was the main event of the Christmas Celebration. In Italy it is traditional to wait for the bells to chime before lighting the candles and beginning the festivities.  Today bells ring to call us to remember the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate again this Advent season.


Welcome and Sharing Friendship and Service Opportunities


Greeting One Another


Choral Introit                 Christmas is Coming


The Meaning of the Service – CAROLINE H.                                                                       

Today begins the holy season of Advent, a time when we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and remember his promises to be with us in Spirit and to return to us in the time to come.  Spiritually, we make a place for Christ’s birth in our hearts.  We decorate our homes and communities in preparation to celebrate this wonderful gift from God.  Today we prepare our house of worship for his coming.

God does not live in earthly temples made by human hands, but God knows that we need them in order to focus our worship.  Nor does God require a fine place for the birth of the Holy Child- a manger in a stable is sufficient.  But God accepts with pleasure the love and devotion we show in preparing a place fitting our Savior’s birth.  This morning we share the Christian meaning behind these symbols to remind us that they are signs of Christ’s presence and his promise to come again to us.

Let us then, make ready this house of God together, recalling the meaning of the symbols we use, that we may remember and our children be taught them.  And let us joyfully anticipate the nativity of our Christ, to the glory of God.



The Advent Candles                                                                     

At Advent we wait as a family waits for the birth of a child: we call it “expecting.”  The symbol of this waiting is the lighting of an Advent Candle on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds us, the worshipers, that something is happening, and something more is still to come.

The candles are arranged in a circle.  A circle has no beginning or end. It is continuous, like the unbroken power of God’s love. Purple was the color for kings in Jesus’ time, and so the three purple candles remind us that Christ was from the royal line of David. He is coming as the King of Kings as well as the Prince of Peace. The pink candle is to be lighted on the third Sunday of the Advent season. This candle represents joy. The large white candle in the center is known as the Christ candle, and points to Jesus as the Christ, the Light of the world.

Each candle reminds us of different parts of our waiting experience. For us this year we are focusing on four ideas of the Christmas event: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. The highlight of the season comes as we light the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve when we rejoice that the promise of long ago has been fulfilled.


Call to Worship and Lighting of the Advent Wreath                                     


Leader:    Today is the first Sunday of Advent, in which we recall the hope we have in Christ.

People:   Christ – the light and hope of the world.

Leader:    Hope is like a light shining in a dark place.

People:   As we look at the light of this candle, we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.


* Carol  O Come, O Come Emmanuel #118 Veni Emmanuel


O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Child of God appear.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!


O come, O Wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh;

To us the path of knowledge show, and help us in that way to go.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!





The Paraments and Advent Colors

Christians have always used many different ways to express what we believe.  All kinds of art have been used to express our faith – dance, music, sculpture, and even color itself carries a message.

Color, altar paraments or coverings, and banners are some of the most important visual ways Christians have used to express and teach our faith in worship. In the early days of Christian worship, Advent and Christmas were seen as a somber time, much like Lent is today. Purple table coverings are used to remind us of Christ’s Kingship.



Advent Prayer


God of Light and Hope, send your Son Jesus to us again, as a sign of hope.  As we begin this Advent season, prepare our hearts for the coming of your love presence in Jesus. As he comes to each of us anew, may the Advent of your Hope show us ways to share your light and love to others.  We ask it in the name of the Coming One, Jesus Christ. Amen.



The Wreaths                                                                           

In the Book of Revelation 22:13, it says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”  


The wreath is formed in the shape of a circle.  A circle has no beginning or end.  This reminds us God’s love never ends.  Jesus is our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end.  He has said he is with us always.  The green color of the wreath, and the fact that it is “evergreen” is the sign of the everlasting life we have through Jesus Christ.  These symbols remind us too of Jesus’ rising from the dead.  The fact that we still celebrate his holy birth today is because he rose from the dead, the final proof that he is God’s son.


The Trees and Lights (choir members plug in lights of the trees)


In the Gospel of John 8:12 it says, “Jesus spoke to them, saying “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life


The tree has not always been part of our Christmas decorations.  One early story of how the Christmas tree came to be a part of Christmas says that on Christmas Eve in the year 1521, in Germany, Martin Luther went out into the night and looked up at the sky.  He saw the millions of stars twinkling brightly.  Struck by this vision, he cut down a small fir tree and, shaking the snow from its branches, he took it into the house where his children were celebrating Christmas Eve.  “Come” he said to his family “let us light candles and put them on the tree to remind us of the light of God’s love.”



Carol O’ Christmas Tree                    Anonymous


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Your leaves of green unchanging

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Your leaves of green unchanging

Your boughs, so green, in summertime, Stay bravely green in wintertime.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, O tree of green unchanging


The Chrismons


Chrismons were created by a woman living in Danville, Virginia. The word combines “Christ” and “monogram.”  The ornaments are all done only in white and gold.  The white tells us of the purity of Christ.  The gold is for his royalty as King of Kings. Each ornament is made of symbols that we associate with Christ, particularly those that are found in Scripture.  This morning, as we decorate our Chrismon tree we lift up just a few of the Chrismons.  The anchor; the triangle; the dove; the cradle; and the butterfly are just a few that decorate this tree.



The Poinsettias                                                                                   


In Psalm 103 17-18 we read, “17-18 But the loving-kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to those who reverence him; his salvation is to children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant and remember to obey him!”


The bright red poinsettia is the most popular of all Christmas flowers.  The use of Poinsettias at Christmas came from Mexico.  The legend of this beautiful flower says that on Christmas Eve church people are invited to bring a gift of thanksgiving to the manger. One night a poor boy quietly walked to his church. He had no gift to bring and was embarrassed.  The legend says he was suddenly stopped by an angel who told him to pull a weed from the side of the road. The boy did as he was told and laid the weed on the manger and said a prayer of thanks. As he prayed the weed was transformed into a magnificent, star shaped flower. This flower amazed everyone that night and from then on this flower has been used as a decoration in our homes and churches. The red leaves are a symbol of Christ’s blood, which gives us life.  The star-shaped formation of red leaves reminds us of the star which came to shine in Bethlehem.



The Gifts of Christmas                                                                        


In the Gospel of John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”


From the beginning of Christmas celebrations, gift giving has been a part of the season.  The Magi brought treasures.  The shepherds gave of themselves in praise and adoration and faith.  Both express the Gift of God giving Christ as the Savior of the World.




Pastoral Prayer, Silent Prayer & Choral Response


Gathering our Tithes & Offerings




* Doxology [#515] and Prayer of Dedication [unison]

Loving God, thank you for the gift of your Son, the greatest gift ever given.  May that love be the center of our lives. Remind us, Lord of this gift.  May these tithes and offerings be used to reflect that love to those you place along our path each day and through the ministries of our church and our church’s wider mission, in Christ’s name.  Amen.


The Holly and the Garland                                                         


In the book of the prophet Isaiah 61:1-3 we read, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives; and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes;  the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord to display his glory


In homes and churches everywhere, we hang the Christmas greens and holly.  Early Christians decked the Sanctuary with boughs of evergreen as a promise of new life and also a sign of hope that in Christ we live forever.



The Manger –                                                                             


Luke 2:15-16

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us”.  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger.            


A manger is a feeding trough used for cattle, sheep, donkeys and horses.  Stone mangers have been discovered in ancient horse stables.  Ours is made of wood.  Jesus was laid to sleep in a manger after his birth. St Francis is called the father of the manger.  In 1223, he built the first manger similar to the one we know today. The manger reminds us 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 poor surroundings, we do not know.  What we do know, is that God reaches out to all people including the poor and wealthy, the simple and the wise, the powerless and the powerful.


Carol                                          Away In A Manger


Away in a manger, No crib for His bed; the little Lord Jesus, laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky, Looked down where He lay; the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.



The Moravian Star                                                                       


We read in Matthew 2:2 –

          “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.”                                    


This is a Moravian star, originating in the Moravian boarding schools in Germany in the nineteenth century as an exercise in geometry.  Stars were carried throughout the world by missionaries and other church workers.  Now, from the Himalayas to the Caribbean, the star proclaims the hope of Advent.

Whatever its form, the star reminds us of God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness and of the light which is the life of humanity.  It reminds us of the promise of Abraham that his descendents would be more numerous than the stars; we are reminded of the star that pointed to the “great and heavenly light from Bethlehem’s manger shining bright.”  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  This is the message of the Advent star, which also points to Jesus, who said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


Choral Song                     What Star is This?


The Sacrament of Holy Communion

   The Invitation

   Communion Prayer & the Lord’s Prayer  [ “trespasses” ]

   Words of Institution and Receiving the Elements

The Prayer of Thanksgiving


* Carol   Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing Mendelssohn



* Benediction and Response Alleluia [joining hands]