Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An "Open & Affirming" Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email:
Douglas W. Hodgkins: Organist/Choir Director
December 12, 2007
The Advent Wreath
I never heard of “the Advent Wreath” until I started my first position as a minister. We never practiced this ritual in the church of my youth. I don't remember ever hearing of it during the course of my Theological Education. Some, if not many clergy, would say that there was a lot that we did not hear about during our Theological Educations that we need to know in the real world of ministry.
Rev. Dr. Kool and I talked about some of the meanings of the Advent Wreath during the Children's Message yesterday. After the Worship Service a few people commented that they had never heard such an explanation. As a result, I decided to share a bit more fully of its history and meaning here.
History: There is evidence that the Advent Wreath was a practice of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples. The evergreen wreaths were used as signs of hope during the dark, cold days and nights of the winter season. Christians used the symbol of evergreen and candles in their Advent preparations to celebrate the birth of Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12). The use of the evergreen wreath spread all over the world.
Symbolism: The circle of the evergreen wreath reminds us of God's never ending love, no beginning and no ending. The evergreen symbolizes to us that God's love never dies. The circle can also remind us how God's desire is for all the people of the world to be connected in harmony.
The four colored candles, three purple and one pink, serve to remind us of our spiritual preparation for the coming of the Christ Child, Jesus. All white candles can also be used. One candle is lighted at the beginning of each week leading up to Christmas. Some people have remembered how each candle can represent 1,000 years for the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of Jesus.
The three purple candles can symbolize our desire for prayer, penance, and purpose, dwelling on the real meaning of God sending a Savior into the world to save us. We usually call these candles Hope, Peace, and Love. The pink candle is lighted on the third Sunday of Advent, sometimes called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice.” We usually call it the candle of Joy.
The candles can represent whatever people and churches feel they wish to focus on as they journey to Christmas Day. Sometimes I've focused on some of the characters of the Advent and Christmas story while at other times different themes in order to add variety. An example would be to focus on the spiritual themes of Promise, Courage, Trust, and Comfort.
There is no right or wrong way for the Advent wreath as long as it's used to help us prepare ourselves to welcome the Son of God in Jesus. As John the Baptist said, “Prepare ye the way!”
Families and churches have used the beautiful Advent Wreath to help them focus on their preparations for Christmas. I have used it over the years as an opportunity for individuals, couples, families, and friends to participate in the Advent worship service by bringing their own unique reflections. This year I have invited individuals to share the meaning of a symbol, and to be willing to leave it at the wreath throughout the Advent and Christmas season. We will remove the wreath after Epiphany Sunday, January 6, 2008. Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Magi to welcome the newborn King into the world. Epiphany, sometimes called “Little Christmas” can be celebrated as a festival of lights as Jesus called us all to bear the light he brings to all throughout the world.
The Christ Candle is always lighted on Christmas Eve, celebrating the arrival of the Christ Child.
I have enjoyed sharing this tradition and giving an opportunity for parishioners to share in their own unique way. I hope that someday you, too, might be willing to share something special of your own in this honored tradition.
The beauty of the Advent Wreath is that it is shared and celebrated in Christian churches of all denominations; Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox. Each tradition brings its own unique flavor and meaning, just as we each bring to Christ our own unique offerings.
Blessed Advent, my friends!
IN THE SANCTURY
3rd Sunday of Advent – December 16, 2007
Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 1:47-55
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
“Good Tidings of Great Joy!”
Children’s Message by Linda Ladd
“Making a House a Home”
Children may worship with their families before going to the Chapel.
Centre Church’s Worship Services are broadcast on Lynnfield Cable Channel 10 (Comcast) or Channel 28 (Verizon) on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and also on Peabody Cable Channel 10 on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m.
On December 16, children and youth, PreK-8th grade will meet in the Chapel following Children’s Time to rehearse for the pageant and participate in Advent activities. Parents should pick up children and youth in Todd Hall at 11:15. All children and youth are encouraged to join in this year’s Christmas Pageant! (on Dec. 23) It is always a wonderful time.
Nursery Care is provided for infants through age 3. Children may play games, build with blocks, listen to stories and be well supervised while parents attend worship. If your child is not yet ready to stay alone, parents are welcome to stay or just stop by with your child to say hello.
Sunday, December 16 – 6:30 p.m.
All are invited to enjoy the music of the Christmas season on December 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Under the direction of Douglas Hodgkins, the Senior and Youth Choirs of the church will be joined by a number of music students from Lynnfield High School. Music by Randall Thompson and others will be presented.
There will be congregational singing and refreshments will be offered following the program.
Youth Group News
The Youth Groups at Centre Church had their Christmas Party on December 9. We celebrated with a Mexican theme - eating tacos, quesadillas, toquitos and more! The kids enjoyed a Yankee Swap and playing games like “Name that Tune.” Over 40 kids attended the event and everyone seemed to have a fun time. Thank you to all of our advisors for making this a wonderful evening and to Lynne Forgione for providing desserts for everyone.
All youth are invited to attend Centre Church’s Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m. with your family. Our next Youth Group meeting is scheduled for January 6, 2008!
High School Youth are needed to help serve a meal at My Brother’s Table in Lynn on Thursday, December 27. We will meet in the church parking lot at 4 p.m. and car pool to Lynn. Please call the church office by Wed., December 19 and let us know if you plan to attend.
High School Discussion Group
“Weekly Seeds”, our high school discussion group, will continue this Sunday, December 16. This group has come together because the youth have asked for it. We encourage all high school students, grades 9-12, to meet in the Pastor’s Outer Office this Sunday following Children’s Time in the Sanctuary. The more students there are the livelier the discussion will be.
The Giving Tree
Gifts for Crombie Street Mission
We will be collecting the following gifts under the Christmas Tree in the narthex for residents of the Crombie Street Mission in Salem, MA: socks, underwear, sweatshirts/pants, hats, mittens and gloves of all sizes. Please leave the gifts unwrapped.
In Lieu of Christmas Cards Donation
Instead of sending individual Christmas Cards to your church friends, why not send a single card to the church office with a contribution which will be sent to City Mission Society in Boston? A Christmas Greeting with the names of those contributing will be published in Tower Notes and your card will be displayed on the Giving Tree in the Narthex.
Each year our special Christmas Offering is divided between local Centre Church needs and a recipient designated by Outreach Ministries. This year the Outreach portion will be divided between Haven from Hunger in Peabody and the North Shore Community Action Plan for their fuel assistance program.
To My Dear Friends,
How can I ever thank you enough for all the kind, thoughtful and loving support that you have given to Lew and I during our hospitalizations at Rosewood and following Lew’s death.
Thank you for all the cards of support and sympathy, and for my beautiful basket of flowers that were recently delivered at Rosewood Hospital.
Sincerely, Elva Batchelder
I’d like to express my thanks to Barbara Langill and Cindy Trayers for their help with last Sunday’s John the Baptist Sermon – Barbara for the costume and Cindy for the specialized greeting cards.
Open and Affirming Film Festival
Thank you everybody for making the Open and Affirming Video Film Festival a success. Co-presenters Carrie Pericola and Mark Meehl have just completed the series for 2007. Altogether there were seven video presentations with attendance ranging from 10 to 43 with lively discussions afterwards. Would people like to continue the ONA Video Film Festival? We have assembled a lineup of possible films for 2008. Would a monthly program using the church’s theater in the evenings be agreeable? Short videos after Sunday Service can still be shown if desired. We welcome your ideas for 2008. Please contact us. Thank you.
Mark Meehl firstname.lastname@example.org
Carrie Pericola email@example.com
Sunday Morning Nursery Assistance
We need some adult volunteers to staff the nursery during school vacations and long weekends. These Sundays are generally light attendance and often we don’t have any youngsters in the nursery, however, we would still like to have child care available each Sunday. We are asking volunteers to arrive by 9:50. If no children arrive in the nursery by 10:15, we invite you to join in worship. The following dates are available: Dec. 30, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, April 13, April 20 and May 11. Please call the church office to volunteer your time.
Claxton Fruitcakes are available after church on Sundays or at Karen’s Bakery during the week. Cost: $4.00 per bar. Call Shirley Orr for details.
City Mission Society Peace Cards are now available for purchase. Each card is based on a design from a child in their Vacation Bible School program, accompanied by a poem about what Peace means to them. Inside they are blank, so you can use for the holidays or all year round. To see the cards or to place an order by credit card, go to their website, http://www.cmsboston.org/how_you_can_help/cards.html or contact CMS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|3rd Sunday in Advent
|Morning Worship - Sanctuary
Weekly Seeds Discussion-Pastor’s Office
Confirmation – Kitchen
Youth Choir – Choir Room
Christmas Concert - Sanctuary
|6:00 pm||Confirmation – Pastor’s Office|
|7:00 pm||Knitting Group – Fireside Room|
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study - Pastor's Office|
|10am-Noon||Pageant Rehearsal - Sanctuary|
Our thoughts and prayers are with:
We also remember Greg Lengyel and Paul Folkins in Iraq.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Head Usher: Jeff Law
Greeters: Al and Judy Johnson
Lay Reader: Mike Timmons
Coffee Hour: Roland and Cheryl Caron and Daniel Schedin
Looking AheadDecember 24, 2007 – 5:00 p.m. Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary