First Sunday of Advent

November 30th was the first Sunday in Advent and our church began it’s many advent activities.  It’s the time when we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Messiah.  Advent is a time of expectation, and this is 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.

Each of the candles represents a different virtue: hope, peace, joy and love. The three 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 pink candle, which represents joy, is to be lighted on the fourth Sunday of the Advent season.  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.

Scripture Reading

On the first Sunday in Advent we light the candle of hope.   The Advent season is a season of preparation and expectation; a time of waiting and hoping.
When we look at the first candle we remember God’s promise to send a Savior to the people. The prophet Isaiah wrote about God fulfilling the promises made to care for people.  God is loving and just.  God brings peace.  This gives us hope. We look forward to the time when everything is fair, when the world is at peace, and all people are treated justly.

The Reading for the first week of Advent comes from Isaiah 9:2, 6-7.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;  on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.   And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.   The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

This Scripture offers us the hope of God’s kingdom where there is peace …”let us walk in the light of the Lord!”

PRAYER: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus.  Thank you for the words of the Prophet Isaiah that remind us that you are the source of our hope.  Help us to remember to walk in the light of the Lord.  AMEN

 Hanging of the Greens

We celebrate these days of Advent in expectation and preparation for Christ’s arrival.   The most striking and universal feature of Christmas is the use of evergreens in churches and homes.  Among ancient Romans evergreens were an emblem of peace, joy, and victory. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home.  Evergreens symbolize the unchanging nature of our God, and they remind us of the everlasting life that is ours through Christ Jesus.  Colors, altar coverings, and banners are some of the most important visual ways Christians have used to express their faith in worship.  Purple table coverings were used to speak of Christ’s Kingship.

Elkhorn Hills United Methodist Church followed these traditions by ushering in advent with the Hanging of the Greens.  Thank you to Jared Rodman and Deb Eidam for spearheading the “hanging of the greens” activities:  lunch, decorating, and refreshments.  The entire sanctuary and narthex have been beautifully adorned with a unified theme of purple, gold and bronze decorations.  Congregation members provided multiple toppings for the delicious baked potato bar.  The children’s crafts (led by Amy Bergman) were wonderful!

Gingerbread Houses

Also taking place on November 30th, was the traditional decorating of “Gingerbread Houses!”   Psalm 139:14 talks about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” and how God made each of us special in His eyes.   What are Gingerbread boys and girls made of?  The right ingredients, unique flavors, baked to perfection, and decorated.  God made us each different so that we can each serve the Lord in a unique way–just like each gingerbread house, gingerbread boy and gingerbread girl are different!  What a great lesson.

Thank you to Children’s Ministries Director Rachel Cooke and the Children’s Council members who constructed the houses and arranged the assorted candy donations for the builders.   Children, youth and families all participated in this fun tradition.

Below are some photos of the meaningful and enjoyable activities from the First Sunday in Advent 2014  . . . Enjoy!

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