Hanging of the Green Preparations

Here are some pictures of the family getting ready for our Hanging of the Greens service this evening.  There are even a few shots of the service itself.

Hanging of the Greens

Hanging of the Christmas Green
A Service for the Beginning of Advent

Monte Nabors and Kelly Yates
with additions by Dennis Bratcher

Opening Prayer

The Meaning of the Service

Congregational Song: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Christmas In America

Lessons of Christmas

Congregational Song: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing!

The Call to Celebration (Responsive Reading) – Pastor Dale

based on John 1:5 and Eph. 3:21

(Congregation standing)

Leader: Christ has come!  Christ was dead!  Christ has risen!  Christ will come again

People: This is the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ!

Leader: when we look at the world around us, we see the darkness of war, captivity, greed, and broken relationships.

People: We long for Christ to come again and bring light to our world.

Leader: The Word of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ lives among us, bringing truth and light as a present reality.

People: We worship as those who have a glimpse of that reality, and we long for its fullness.  We are those who labor to make Christ’s light more visible on earth.

All: Let us praise God, that the light of Christ shines on in the darkness, which has never overcome it.  To God be the glory in Jesus Christ and in the church forever and ever. Amen.

The Sanctuary Evergreens

Congregational Song: Go, Tell It On The Mountains

The Christmas Tree

Special Music: O Christmas Tree

The Christmas Poinsettia

Special Music: I Wonder As I Wander

The Paraments and Advent Colors

Congregational Song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The Advent Candles

Congregational Song: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

The Nativity

Congregational Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem,

The Gifts of Christmas

Congregational Song: We Three Kings

The Bells of Christmas

Congregational Song: Come On Ring Those Bells

Christmas Caroling

Congregational Song: Angels We Have Heard on High

The Christ of Christmas

Special song: The Birthday of a King

Concluding Prayer

The Blessing

Dennis Bratcher, Copyright ©, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
See Copyright and User Information Notice

Sunday Night Thoughts

The short story — it was a long day, following a long holiday weekend.  The good news — it was a very satisfying day of ministry.  Last night, I spent trying to get caught up from being out of town for four days.  This morning Pam took Rebecca back to Roanoke to catch a ride to Southern Wesleyan.  She “Facebooked” us around 1 or 2 to let us know she was back at school.

We began our preparation for Christmas today by observing the First Sunday of Advent.  I was very pleased with how the service went this morning.  For the second week in a row, we had someone respond to the message by coming to the altar — that never gets old.

The afternoon was filled preparing the sanctuary for our Hanging of the Greens service.  One of my goals was to get the sanctuary tree up and decorated before we began our service — I am glad to say we accomplished that goal.  I try to make this service an interactive experience.  We use whoever shows up to read the various parts and we sing Advent and Christmas carols as we go along.  As the various readings are read, we decorate with that item.  This morning the sanctuary was lacking any decorations except for the Advent candles.  I do this on purpose, so people see the change the next week.  Also it signifies the desperation of the Jewish people who were awaiting the Messiah.  The weather made it all the more bleak.  It was a cold, gray, rainy morning on the Southside.  The good news again is the church is now decorated for Advent and Christmas.

After we got home, I spent sometime getting this blog up-to-date and uploading the media files from today.  I will post a brief outline of our Hanging of the Greens.  It comes from CRI Voice.  Here is the link to the full service by Dr. Dennis Bratcher.

Worship Recap

November 30, 2008
First Sunday of Advent

Call to Worship

Family:  For the time is coming; says the Lord, when I will place a righteous Branch upon King David’s throne.
Congregation:  He shall be a King who shall rule with wisdom and justice and cause righteousness to prevail everywhere throughout the earth. And this is His name: The Lord, our Righteousness.
Family:  For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.
Congregation:  These will be His royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Family:  His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of His father, David.
Congregation:  He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of Heaven has dedicated Himself to do it!
Family:  The royal line of David will be cut off, chopped down like a tree; but from the stump will grow a Shoot – yes, a new Branch from the old root.
Congregation:  And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Family:  His delight will be obedience to the Lord. He will not judge by appearance, false evidence, or hearsay, but will defend the poor and the exploited.
Congregation:  He will rule against the wicked who oppress them. For He will be clothed with fairness and truth.
Family:  And Christ became a human being and lived here on Earth among us and was full of loving faithfulness and truth.
Congregation:  And some of us have seen His glory – the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father.

Lighting of the Advent Wreath
Song of Worship
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Latin Hymn/John M. Neale)
Songs of Worship
Here I Am to Worship (Hughes); His Name is Wonderful (Mieir)
Special Music
Worship through Prayer
Worship through Giving
Song of Worship
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Wesley/Prichard)
Worship through God’s WordJesus Is the Wonderful Counselor [audio] [video]
Song of Commitment

Weekly Lectionary Reading

first-adventFirst Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2008

Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37 24

“At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world-from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

28 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation[e] will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return-in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”

For those of us who associate the season of Advent exclusively with Christmas, this might seem to be a very strange verse to start Advent.  As I preach tomorrow, I will explain the dual preparation of Advent.  Yes, we are preparing our hearts for the upcoming season of Christmas.  But in addition to that, we are making sure that our hearts are ready for the coming (or Advent) of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  These are the warnings that are given here in Mark.  As we were riding home this afternoon, we were listening to a Twila Paris CD.  One of the songs on that CD is “Watch and Pray.”  Jesus told us we must stay alert for the Lord’s return, we have no idea when it will be.  Some may try to predict it, but that is not the essence here.  Jesus is warning us to have our hearts right, not to be checking out all the signs.  The question is, “Is your heart prepared for the Lord’s coming?”

Welcome Advent

advent005Today concludes the church calendar Year A. During worship tomorrow we will begin Advent. We are now on cycle B. It also marks two years of devotionals using the Revised Common Lectionary. Most Wesleyans now recognize the Advent, Christmas, and Easter seasons. Depending on the pastor, they might even recognize Lent and Pentecost. For the most part we are a non-liturgical church, but I like the idea of sanctifying the calendar (as a friend of mine put it.) I’ll be sharing a little more about during the coming week. If you are not sure about this Advent thing, I encourage you to check out a great series of posts on Advent. Here’s the link. I encourage you to make this Advent season special.  It is a time of preparation for the glorious season of Christmas.  Blessings…