With Christmas just around the corner, many churches are gearing up for celebrations centered around the birth of Christ. The first celebration of Advent, or the weeks leading up to Christmas, the hanging of the greens took place at the end of November at many local churches.
“The story of the birth of Christ is central to the celebration of Christmas in the church,” Lakeway United Methodist Pastor Dyan Dietz said. “But the celebration of Christmas actually begins with Advent, the season of the four weeks before Christmas through which we are now moving. The hanging of the greens service is a way of marking the decorating of the church as a sacred activity.”
First Christian Church of Van Alstyne Deacon Trea Madole agreed.
“By setting up the Advent Wreath, we are reminded of the continuation of life and life without end,” Madole said.
The wreath has four candles representing the four weeks of Advent.
“They encircle the Christ candle to signify God’s son as the light of the world,” Madole said. “Every Sunday, we will light a candle, and on Christmas Eve, the Christ candle will be lit. We also decorate our Chrismon tree with Christian symbols of white and gold made by members of the church and all done by hand.”
A Chrismon tree is a type of Christmas tree that uses symbols of Christ as decorations.
Madole said that the purpose of this time of year is to recognize the everlasting life given through Christ’s sacrifice.
“Every Sunday a candle is lit, it also helps us remember our hope in Christ, the love he has for us, the peace we will one day bring, and the joy that we will have one day when we are in the presence with Jesus,” she said.
Preparing the space for this holy time, not unlike the way people decorate their homes, Dietz said, is meant to pay attention to the sacred meaning central of the season because it represents a preparing of the heart for the coming of Jesus.
“The quiet pace of Advent is in direct contrast to the bustling commercialism of the secular holidays,” she said. “As the world around us becomes saturated with Hallmark Christmas movies, holiday music, decorations, parties and shopping, the church remains a sanctuary … a sacred space in which we choose to await the birth of the holy child.”
The Christmas Eve Service will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 24.
“The colors of Advent are purple and blue, so even these stand in contrast to the red and green of the commercial Christmas we experience outside the church walls,” Dietz said. “The are calming colors and ones that express the royalty of the Christ child. Our hanging of the greens service is always preceded by a meal and followed by the decorating of the church.”
While the world celebrating the Christmas season, Dietz said, Christians are anticipating the arrival of a precious gift.
“Aside from children who await the coming of Santa, there is really not an experience of waiting,” she said. “The season itself has grown from a couple of weeks to a couple of months in length in the past few decades, but it is the waiting expectantly that leads to a feeling of satisfaction, and that satisfaction that we long for cannot be fulfilled by over saturation of Christmas.”