Emmanuel God with Us
Hanging of the Greens
Prelude Chorale Prelude on “Stuttgart” arr. Lee Bristol
Call to Worship (from Isaiah 2)
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.
During this Advent season, let us learn of God’s ways and walk in God’s paths.
Let us seek the well-being of all creation.
God of manger and star, let us enter your story once again and find ourselves kneeling with the shepherds, singing with the angels and worshipping with the Magi. Touch our hearts with the wonder of birth, and the depths of your love. Speak to us in word and song and lift us to the realms of glory. Amen.
Response “Prepare the Way of the Lord”
Decorating the Sanctuary
Why do we do this? What does it mean? During the Advent season we prepare for the One who has come, whom we expect to come, and who will come again. We prepare our hearts and make room for the Messiah. In the hanging of the greens we share with Christians throughout the ages the memory and anticipation of Christ’s coming. We decorate our church with the symbols of love, joy, hope, and peace. Why do we do this? To tell the story again and then proclaim: Jesus is born. God is with us!
The Advent Wreath
(Place the wreath and the candles.)
This simple circle of evergreen branches testifies of the continuation of life and life without end. The four candles encircle the Christ candle to signify God’s Son as the light of the world. The four candles represent the four weeks in Advent. Each Sunday we will light a candle and on Christmas Eve the Christ candle will be lit. With increasing brightness from the candles, we experience the Light of the world and find hope in the coming of Jesus.
Lighting of the Advent Candles: Week 1: Hope Candle
The first candle on the Advent wreath reminds us to think of hope. We hope for many things. We hope to finish what we start. We hope that the sermon is short. We hope for long lives for people we love. We hope that God will save us from hard times and painful lessons. Hope is the shape of our work and our words, while we wait for a future that only God knows.
Light the candle
Holy and gracious God, your mercy and constancy are the headwaters of our hope. Our desires for Your promised future flow out of Your past and present faithfulness. We thank you, O God. Our hope is in you. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Narration: The Greens
(Place garlands and boughs as decoration.)
The Advent custom of decorating with evergreen branches comes to us from the peasants of the Middle Ages who believed that preparations should be made for the coming of Jesus. On the first Sunday of Advent, each family would gather evergreens and place them near the hearth in their home. We continue that tradition by hanging the greens in our congregational home, this sanctuary. The evergreen reminds us of God’s abiding love in Jesus Christ and of our eternal relationship with God.
Anthem “The Holly & the Ivy” traditional
Narration: Changing the Paraments
(Switch vestments & paraments to purple)
Today marks the beginning of a new church year. Purple, the color for penitence and royalty, is used to mark the seasons of Advent and Lent, the times of preparation before Christmas and Easter. Like the cycles of the church year, we are reminded that God is the first and last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is our bright Morning Star. We remember this with the star-shaped leaves of the poinsettia. May we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of a Savior into our world today.
Anthem “E’en So Lord Jesus Quickly Come” Paul Manz
Narration: The Wreaths
Christmas greens point to deep, rich meanings of the season: laurel and bay symbolize victory and triumph; yew and cypress stand for eternal life; mistletoe symbolizes peace; and the prickly leaves of holly are symbols of the crown of thorns. The circle shape of the wreaths are a Christian symbol of the eternal God and eternal love, without beginning or end.
Narration: The Poinsettias
(Place poinsettias around the room for decoration)
The poinsettia, or “Flower of the Holy Night” as the plant is referred to in Mexico, is the most popular Advent flower. It was discovered growing wild in Mexico and was taken to North America where it was developed into the type of flower seen there today. The star-shaped center of the bloom reminds us of the star that shone on that first Christmas.
Narration: The Créche
(Place the different parts of the manger scene during the reading and hymn.)
Possibly the best-known Christmas decorating tradition is the scene of Bethlehem, where the birth took place. There was a stable filled with animals, shepherds, and angels. Mary and Joseph watched in wonder as visitors came searching for their child, baby Jesus. We set this scene before us during the Advent season as a reminder of God’s gift to us.
Tithe & Offering
Prayer of Dedication
Narration: Emmanuel, God with Us
People say that a name is everything. Products are named to make everyone want to try them. Books are named to entice people to read them. A name with a good reputation communicates trustworthiness and quality. So what is God’s child to be named?
He could have been a Moses or a David or an Isaiah. But the name chosen was Emmanuel-God with us. It is a name that comforts in times of need and stress, strengthens in times of challenge and decision, and encourages in moments of weakness and doubt. God with us! Forever. Continually. What a great name for God’s son!