Monday, November 30, 2009
Yesterday started the beginning of the Christian Year. This season is called ADVENT. Since some of you may not know about our Christian Year, I decided to write a couple of blogs about it. I will begin though by saying that not every Christian denomination follows the Christian Year. In my churches all through the years (Methodist and now Episcopal), we have followed the Christian Year---and I LOVE it. This first post will talk about Advent through Epiphany.
ADVENT begins our Christian year and includes the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Each of the seasons is represented by a specific color. The color of Advent is purple. Depending upon what day December 25th falls, Advent begins toward the end of November or the beginning of December. Advent is a time of anticipation and hope---and WAITING. Many churches light candles (Advent Wreath in my header) each week in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many homes also have small Advent Wreaths signifying the season. Advent carols are sung.
Each Sunday during Advent, the candles are lit --adding one each week. The first Sunday of Advent, one of the purple candles is lit. This candle stands for HOPE. On the 2nd Sunday, two candles are lit. The second purple one stands for PEACE. On the third Sunday of Advent, the pink candle is lit. This candle stands for JOY (knowing the the birth of Christ is coming very soon). AND all four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The fourth candle stands for LOVE.
Everyone knows that Christmas is on December 25--but the season of CHRISTMASTIDE (liturgical color is white) goes from the 25th through January 5. During Christmastide, a large WHITE candle is lit signifying the birth of the Christ child. This is the 'official' Twelve Days of Christmas. This is why many Christians leave up their Christmas decorations until January 6.
EPIPHANY (using the liturgical color green) begins on January 6th. It is the time when the Wise Men visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They followed the star--so the real significance of Epiphany is 'light.' The word Epiphany itself means "showing forth." The light from the Star of Bethlehem and the light of Christ spread throughout the world during Epiphany.
Epiphany is also a time to remember Christ's baptism--and our own, together with the ways in which Christ was revealed to humankind, especially in the healing miracles. It is a time to ponder the ways in which we ourselves are called to bring Christ to the world.
The number of Sundays in the Epiphany season varies from four to nine according to the date of Easter Sunday (which is a movable date derived from the lunar calendar). This year there will be six (January 7- Feb. 16).
I will present one more post on the Christian Year.. In the meantime though, Happy ADVENT. Let's all do what we need to do to anticipate the birth of Christ, which is the REAL meaning of Christmas.
On another note, George and I had a wonderful hiking and 'waterfalling' trip... We saw at least 16 new waterfalls this past weekend. Below is one picture of the first waterfall we saw on Thanksgiving afternoon while visiting our good friend Reida. More pictures from our trip will be forthcoming.
Bays Mountain Falls (near Church Hill, TN)
Hope everyone had a great weekend ---and all of you have 'walked off' all of that big Thanksgiving feast!!!!
P.S. Be sure and read my "Thirty Days of Thanksgivings" on my sidebar --before I take it off.