Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Tradition of the Advent Wreath

Tuesday November 30

John 5: 36-39

Tradition, one of the four pillars of the Wesleyan quadrilateral along with scripture, reason and personal experience is perhaps never more important and meaningful than during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Tradition keeps us centered and balanced. It connects us to the past, to the Saints that have walked the journey before us and to the universal Church. Tradition celebrates John Wesley’s catholic spirit and gives meaning to the cherished elements of our worship services.

A Treasured tradition of the Church and of the United Methodists is the Advent Wreath. It is rich with symbolism, keeps us focused on the centrality of Christ’s birth and is a ceremonial way to measure the time set aside for this special season filled with the spirit of expectation, anticipation, and longing. It helps us prepare our hearts and spirits to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to anticipate his second coming.

The wreath itself is circular to represent the eternal nature of God, which has no beginning or end. It is made of evergreens which represent the eternal life offered through Christ to the world. Four candles placed in the circle of the wreath are lit each Sunday in Advent. As the new candle is lit and the previously lit candles glow also, the accumulation of light shows us the growing expectation and joy in anticipation of the Christ Child’s birth and the lighting of the center Christ candle on Christmas Eve.

Three candles are traditionally purple, the color of royalty and recognition of Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One candle is pink, a mixture of purple and the purity of white as a symbol of joy. The Christ candle in the center of the wreath is the largest and is white, standing for the sinlessness of the Savior, the Light of the World.

On the first Sunday of Advent the purple candle representing the patriarchs is lit to focus our attention on the spirit of expectation of Christ’s coming. Another purple candle, often called the prophet’s candle is lit on the second Sunday in Advent to center our hearts on the hope in which the Jews waited for the Messiah and the hope of the Church as we wait for His second advent. On the third Sunday in Advent, the pink candle is lit and joins the first two candles as the church experiences the joy of the Messiah’s birth as proclaimed by the shepherds. On the last Sunday the Mary candle, the fourth candle, is lit to concentrate our devotion toward the purity of Christ’s birth and life, and the purity of the Church. The center candle, the Christ candle, is lit with all the others on Christmas Eve to signify that the light of the world is come to be with us.

All the traditions of the Church and especially the tradition of the Advent wreath give us a way to wait, to remember, to hope, and to rejoice in the birth of the Savior.

Reflection – Focus on the meaning of Advent Christmas traditions and worship

Monica Boudreaux

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ADVENT–A Coming

John 1: 1-14

Advent comes from the Latin meaning “a coming” or “arrival”. The season begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent begins our new church year as Christ comes to us again with the peace and joy needed to take us through another year.

During the season of Advent, the church celebrates two comings of Christ. First, we remember his incarnation, the coming of the Messiah, the world’s Savior. Second, we look forward to the second and final coming as reigning Lord and Judge. We thank him for His first Advent, prepare for his Second Advent, and celebrate His Presence through the Holy Spirit. It is a unique time when the past, the present, and the future realities of God are combined.

Advent gives voice to the joy and hope that the Christ Child brought to the earth and the expectation of the total restoration of God’s Kingdom when He comes again. The church looks forward to the completion of our salvation and the end of the world’s suffering when Christ comes again. The season forces spirituality into an increasingly secular Christmas and enriches our relationship to God, to each other, and those who have come before us.

The earliest recorded observances of Advent are from the fourth century. Monks set aside approximately six weeks before Christ’s Mass as a time of penitence and devotion and fasting. Advent became a time when new Christians prepared for baptism. For more than a thousand years, the church has set aside a four week period to recover Christmas as a holy time of expectation and preparation.

Today in the midst of so much despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of the church, the hope of the restoration of creation to completeness upon Christ’s return, the hope of the salvation Christ brings. In the midst of so much war and death, Advent offers PEACE – the peace beyond our understanding, the peace that is more than the absence of conflict, the peace of Christ. In the midst of so much prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God, a way to love one another, the yearning to love His church. In the midst of so much sadness and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of heaven.

Reflection – Reflect on ways that the hope, peace, joy, and love of the Advent season have been yours and how you can share with others.

Monica Boudreaux

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One Thing – Christ

Jesus had just healed a man that was born blind and the authorities were pressing him to say something negative about Jesus.

He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’

John 9:25
Such a simple statement. The man dosen’t know the answers to all the comlicated questions he just knows he is healed and healed by Jesus. Jesus the Christ.
  • Christians don’t follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.
  • Christians don’t preach themselves; Christians proclaim Christ.
  • Christians don’t point people to core values; Christians point people to the cross.
  • Christians don’t preach about Christ: Christians preach Christ.

How do you practice your Christianity?

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The Advent Possibility

First Sunday of Advent

Passage Isaiah 2:1-5

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to comethe mountain of the LORD’s house hall be established as the highest of the mountains,and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

The great possibility of Advent is that we can all receive the enlightenment of God. Each year we are challenged to look inside of ourselves and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Savior. As we welcome our Lord into our world our hearts are lightened and our burdens are eased. We will find that elusive peace that we so desperately seek. In His church we gather to prepare for his coming. Isaiah says: “let us walk in the light of the Lord’ Let it be so for our church. Mr. Wesley has an interesting thought below.

“The temple of the Lord which is upon mount Moriah; which yet is not to be understood literally of that material temple, but mystically of the church of God; as appears from the flowing of all nations to it, which was not to that temple, nor indeed was fulfilled ’till that temple was destroyed.”

John Wesley

  • What great possibilities do you see for yourself during this Advent season?
  • What are you doing to prepare yourself for new possibilities from God?
  • Do you truly want “new possibilities? 

Read the entire passage through three times and ponder your “Advent Possibilities.”As you worship this Sunday allow God to show possibilities beyond your reach.

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Things Are Just Different

I am the kind of person who likes to have things figured out ahead of time. That’s my style and  I can be a little stubborn about it. I wonder if that a good thing for a Missional Christian? Let look to see how God handled people like me in the Bible. let’s pick three,Moses, Jonah and Peter.

Moses-Long before God had tapped Moses for his mission to lead His people out Egypt Moses had begun his own freedom movement. After seeing one of his fellow Jews being mistreated by an Egyptian he killed the Egyptian. The result. Moses had to live in hiding and exile for 40 years. Moses did it his way. When he submitted himself to God at the burning bush he became the leader of the nation.

Jonah-As soon as he received God’s call to preach to the people of Nineveh, Jonah ran away because he knew that “those people” were not worth his effort. After spending three days in the belly of the fish Jonah led one of the most dramatic revivals in history.

Peter- He was just a simple fisherman who just didn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut. In his time he had a tendency to talk BIG but on the night that Jesus was condemned he didn’t talk so big. Jesus later confronted him and he expressed sorrow for his denial. After that experience with Jesus he seemed to know when to talk big and when to be silent.

The point is simple. When we encounter God -things are different. It doesn’t matter that we have everything figured out. When we allow God to speak,and we really listen, things are just different. As Missional Christians we have to be forever aware of the still small voice of God prodding and poking us every moment of the day. He has a message for you. Please listen and things can be so different.

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The Desert Fathers

The Desert Fathers were monks, asethics and hermits who lived mainly in Egypt beginning around the third century. Their objective was to remove themselves from the many corruptions of the world and to seek God in the “emptiness” of the parched dry desert. The greatest of these was Antony who live a remarkably long life of 95 years and is considered the father of monasticism.There main practices were: love for all men., silence and stillness to wait for God,recitation of scripture and withdrawal from society. They truly tried to get as close to God as possible.

I shared in an earlier post that I had committed myself to a study of the wisdom of the desert. This has been a most fascinating journey for me. It has led me to open myself to new ways of thinking about and listening to God. The study of the sayings and history of these men of the desert has brought out a yearning for a “desert place” of my own. One of the outgrowths of this journey has been to establish a Contemplative Worship time at St. Luke’s.

From time to time I will be sharing one of the preserved “sayings” of the fathers on this blog along with a few thoughts that I have about it. It will be my attempt to apply these sayings to the life of a Missional Christian. I hope it may be helpful or encouraging and I invite your comments so that I might add your wisdom to this discussion.

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A Turn in the Journey

The Missional Journey is not a straight path but rather it has many turns and surprises. This month I will begin perhaps the most radical turn that I have undertaken in many years. In an effort to truly live up to the the mission of the UMC–“to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”–I have felt compelled by the Lord to broaden the scope of worship at St. Luke’s. This is being accomplish by the addition of two new worship services.

One is called “The Retreat”. The service features a time of silence,contemplation , prayer and Holy Communion. It primarily seeks to use symbols,quiet music and sacrament to draw us closer to God. It is “Contemplative” in nature.

The other is called “The Highway”. It is a “contemporary” worship time that seeks to use a casual atmosphere, lively music and a focused biblical message to draw people to the Christian journey.

These happenings represent the ongoing growth of my Missional Journey. In the coming months I will attempt to share,with some regularity where this journey is going. Along the way I will be putting small thoughts about ministry, worship and just living and I invite your feedback.

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