Sunday, 16 December 2018 The Colors and Traditions of Advent John 1:4 - The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Christmas is the celebration and observance of the birth of Christ. Such a wonderful event calls for rejoicing, anticipation, preparation, bright lights, and happy gatherings. It also calls for reverence, reflection, and a deep sense of awe. Christmas is such a huge event that we anticipate the day for weeks in advance. That period of time is called “Advent” which simply means “coming” or “arrival” and is the beginning of the Church year. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world and dwelling among us is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death and resurrection. To indicate this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the season of Lent and so shared the purple color of Lent. In recent times, however, Advent has undergone a shift in emphasis. The penitential aspect of the Season has been almost totally replaced by an emphasis on hope and anticipation. Some churches use bright blue in lieu of purple to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent. Christians over the centuries have decorated their churches in special “greening of the church” observances and hold special Advent wreath candle lighting ceremonies on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. The circular Advent Wreath reminds us that God and his mercy has no beginning or end. The evergreens represent new or renewed life. The candles symbolize that God 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 ourselves are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves can symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The flame of each new candle reminds 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 white Christ candle in the center of the wreath is lighted at Christmas and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized. Today is the third Sunday of Advent and the pink or rose candle in the Advent wreath will be lit. The rose candle is also called the “Joy” candle and it comes out of the history of Advent. In earlier times the season of Advent had a much stronger penitential aspect, and a relaxation of disciplines including breaking of the Advent fast was offered on the third Sunday of Advent. The Advent fast was broken in anticipation of the great event to come and to signify Joy at the soon to be birth of Christ. This is reflected in the theme of rejoicing and the shift of candle color from Purple to rose. The focus is joy whether thinking of the impending nativity of Jesus, the joy of the Magi worshipping the new found King, or the Shepherds’ joy of the news proclaimed to them, and their adoration of the child in the manger. Prayer: Dear Lord, may each of us light the candle of Joy and Hope in our hearts today and strive to bring the joy and hope of God’s grace to others every day. Amen. ~ An Advent Gift from Roberta Boyd ... See MoreSee Less
Friday, 14 December 2018 Traditions, Marriage, and the Holidays On December 16, Don and I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful wedding that took place at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Youngstown, Ohio. The church was decorated with pine roping strung from the cathedral ceilings which were made with large wooden beams. A Chrismon star was placed at each intersecting point down the middle aisle. The 12-foot pine tree was covered with the Chrismon ornaments made many years before by the ladies of the church with pearls and gold, and love. The white poinsettias on the altar and the wrought iron candlesticks at the end of each pew reminded me of the numerous Christmas Eve candlelight services that had taken place there – a church that was organized in 1818 and began with only German- speaking services attended by my ancestors. This setting was a special gift from my church family. They had strayed away from the Chrismon tree for the previous few years, opting instead for red and white decorations. They brought the Chrismons back out for our ceremony. Our attendants were ALL of my immediate family, two cousins, a close friend, and Don’s brothers. I had friends from my catechism class carry ceremonial torches and a cross for the procession. I had moved away from home after graduating from Youngstown State to seek my fame and fortune in Atlanta, Georgia, with my sorority big sister. Coming back after being gone three years reminded me about how important my memories with my church family were to me. It brought me back to the times I had done Christmas plays on those sanc- tuary steps, professed my faith on Confirmation Day, lit the candles as an acolyte, read the lessons on youth Sunday, or sang in the adult choir. The adults who supported our car washes and fundraisers for those trips to youth gatherings were also our Sunday School teachers. They were there to help us start our wedded life together. My church family, which included our pastor of over 20 years, and my parents gave me the firm foundation so that my faith could be cultivated. This faith had grown and made our marriage strong so that I could support my husband who decided to return to seminary at the age of 40. This foundation of my faith would take me through the good and bad times. It stayed with me no matter where we were called to serve. We have had 40 won- derful years together. God has blessed us with two fantastic children and most recently a sweet daughter-in-law. We all have our own special memories of what our church family means to us, but if you ever doubt why you are serving God in your own special way at Trinity, know that you are creating memories for other and giving them an opportunity to grow in their faith and love of Christ. I know that every year when I see the beautiful Chrismon tree covered in our symbols of faith, I am taken back to our wedding day, Christmas Eve services, and time with family. May your faith journey and memories come alive during this Advent and Christmas season. ~ An Advent Gift from Margie Vollenweider ... See MoreSee Less
Thank you Margie,
Even though we don't go to the same church, my faith was strengthened by reading this. What a wonderful sentiment and a great reminder of how our faith in God and devotion to our families totally enriches our lives.
You and Don are salt of the earth Good People.
I send blessings your way and a big hug.
Happy Anniversary and Happy Holidays 🎄🎁🥂⛄
I was Baptized im that church. It was my parents church till we moved to Champion. I have very fond memories of St. Pauls.
What a lovely message ! Congratulations on your Wedding Anniversary & hope y’all have a Very Merry Christmas 🎄🎁 🎄!!!
❤️. Happy Anniversary!!!
So meaningful! Wonderful memories!
So beautiful. Congratulations on your anniversary.
Thanks for sharing these great memories with us.