Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

December is a month of joyful anticipation with each Sunday leading the community of faith closer to the manger. The season of Advent continues with the fellowship studying the prophets in preparation for the celebration of the nativity of the Messiah. The nave is wreathed in evergreen and the chancel continues to be vested in royal purple. An additional candle is lit on the Advent wreath on successive Sundays with readings celebrating Christ the Way, Christ our Joy, and the Prince of Peace. The role of John the Baptist as herald of the Messiah is recognized for the second and third Sundays of Advent, then the events leading up to the birth of the Holy Child sets the tone for the last Sunday of the season. Seasonal banners may be added on each successive Sunday. Additional worship visuals for the season could include a Chrismon tree and a Jesse tree. The Chrismon tree is an evergreen tree covered with white monograms of Christ (Chrismons) while the Jesse tree is decorated with symbols of the ancestors of Jesus. The Christmas season begins on Christmas eve and continues until the Day of Epiphany. On Christmas eve, the altar vestments change to white and gold befitting the coming of the infant King. The Chrismon tree remains, joined by nativity scenes, a Christmas star, angels, poinsettias, and roses. Some fellowships choose to end the calendar year and prepare for the coming year with a Watch Night Service which can include the profoundly moving Covenant Renewal Service. May the joys of the season gladden your hearts!

Resource: The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992, The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN.