Joy + Kindness + Light + Love = Salvation
Lighting of the Advent Candle during worship is near and dear to my heart. It’s one of my earliest memories of participating in worship with my family. I noticed that when I went to other churches the words used were sometimes different. The candles were sometimes different colors. Sadly, this was also one of the first times I remember someone saying, “Well they’re doing it wrong.” when they answered my curious question regarding the differences.
One major difference this year is starting Advent a week early. Last Sunday St. Luke’s celebrated both Christ the King Sunday and the First Week of Advent. The worship and music team thought it would be better to combine these instead of Advent Four and Christmas Eve, which both fall on December 24 this year. The church calendar was arranged when Christmas Day was the big day. The Season of Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Now with Christmas Eve being the big day, Advent occurs on Christmas Eve about every seven years.
The church calendar was created by humans, it is not biblical. What is important to remember is Advent is about prophesy, waiting and preparing for the messiah to arrive. We have been in a time of Advent since Jesus’ ascended into heaven, as we wait for his return. Until then we tell the story every year. So moving Advent up a week made the most sense.
I’m grateful for the writer below sharing a bit of the history, including the differences.
History and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath
by Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
Used with permission: Catholic Exchange.
First published November 28, 2021.
The lights of the candles on the Advent Wreath break through the darkness, reminding us of the Light of Christ that we anticipate during this holy season. Where did this tradition come from, of lighting four candles in an evergreen wreath to mark the weeks preceding Christmas? Like many of our Church traditions, the use of candles in the midst of late fall and winter was originally a pagan tradition. Rev. William Saunders, who wrote an article in the “Arlington Catholic Herald” on this topic, states that “pre-Germanic peoples used wreaths with lit candles during the dark and cold December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended sunlight days of spring.” In a similar vein, Scandinavians “lighted candles [that] were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn the ‘wheel of the earth’ back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.”
In the middle ages, the Germanic peoples began incorporating a lighted wreath into the Christian season of Advent. It didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1800s and it wasn’t until the 1900s that German immigrants brought the tradition to America.
The Advent Wreath is very symbolic. The evergreens used for the wreath itself are a reminder of continuous life. The shaping of them into a circle reinforces that meaning. The circle is also a sign of everlasting life as well as the eternity of God.
Four candles used. Traditionally three purple and one pink, mark the Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The purple candles are reminders that this should be a time of prayer and sacrifice to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit to announce Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing for Christ is coming near. With the lighting of that candle, the light has won out over the darkness (three candles lit vs. the one that remains unlit).
Various meanings have been assigned to the four candles. One interpretation has each candle representing 4000 years, the Biblical time between Adam and Eve and the coming of Christ. In another interpretation, the first candle represents the patriarchs, the second the prophets, the third reminds us of John the Baptist, and the fourth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They have also been described as the prophets’ candle, the Bethlehem Candle, the shepherds’ candle, and the angels’ candle.
A fifth white candle in the center representing Christ can also be used. It is lit on Christmas Eve as a remembrance of Christ coming into the world. Sometimes, all the other candles of the wreath are removed and replaced with white candles on Christmas.
The Advent Wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season. The light of the candles invite us to quiet ourselves during this busy time and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Whether at home or at Church, it provides an invitation to wait and pray in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ. We are called to welcome the light of Christ into our lives.
The weekly themes for St. Luke’s Advent Season are Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and Salvation. The first four are found in the four verses of the Advent hymn, “Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” #242 in the ELW. The Joy of the Lord. The Kindness of Christ. Jesus the Light of the Word. God is Love. Each of these are gifts of God that are expressions of Salvation. These are the gifts we are called to live out which in turn bring Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and hopefully leading to discovering a life of Salvation in Jesus the Lord to a world that so desperately needs it. So let us embrace our differences.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. – Romans 8:28-29a
Advent according to the Prophet Jeremiah
Thanksgiving is Thursday. One day where as a nation we pause to give thanks for all that we have been given. For some, it’s not even a day. We can find ourselves in disagreement with family members, distracted by football, or desiring the Black Friday specials.
To help focus us this Advent Season we will be looking at the Prophet Jeremiah. His main message was simple, but difficult to follow. He called people to turn away from their wicked ways and dependence upon idols and false gods – the things that take us away from giving thanks and distracting us from worshipping God.
The Worship and Music Team chose “Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” as our Advent Hymn. It is a song that calls us to give thanks for and share the gifts of Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and Salvation. Could you think of better Christmas gifts?
Living out these gifts brings…
…Joy into a world filled with much sadness.
…Kindness into a world where there is too much cruelty
…Light into a world of darkness.
…Love into a world of hate.
…Salvation to a world that seems set on destruction.
These gifts do not have a sign, “Wait until Christmas” to open them – give them every day!
Join us in the days and weeks ahead.
Thanksgiving Eve Worship – Wednesday, November 22, 7 PM.
How fun to have long time member and first year seminary student, Tim Krieg giving the message. Stay for the dessert reception. But more importantly, bring a gift for VEAP, a nonperishable food item and household products. Follow the link for the For Most Needed Items https://veap.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Most-needed-items-flyer-2023.pdf
Advent Worship Candle Lighting – During Worships: November 26, December 3, 10, 17, and Christmas Eve. Individuals, friends, families are invited to light a candle, read a Bible verse, and say a prayer (all provided). There is room for you on November 26, December 10, 17, and Christmas Eve.
Invitation to Christmas Worship – The greatest gift to share.
Prayerfully consider inviting family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to come and hear the Christmas Story at our Candlelight Worships: 2, 4, and 10 PM. It is the one time of year people are most willing to open this present.
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Next Wednesday, November 22, at 7 PM, you are invited to gather for worship and then stay for dessert. It’s a wonderful tradition here at St. Luke’s as well as many other congregations. You’re invited to bring a dessert to share with our fellow members following worship, but also bring a bag for our neighbors.
VEAP is our local community food shelf and resource center.
VEAP Mission: Together we create pathways to stronger, more hopeful communities through access to healthy food, housing stability, and supportive services.
and Vision: A thriving community where all are free to pursue their dreams!
St. Luke’s has a VEAP Barrel by our front entrance. Every Sunday there are items put in it by a few faithful members. Two times a year we seek to have the barrel overflowing with food and household products – On Thanksgiving Eve and March Minnesota Food Share Month.
Prayerfully consider bringing some of the following items of their most needed items:
(From their website: https://veap.org/ways-to-give/most-needed-items/)
If you cannot join us for Thanksgiving Eve, remember we collect items every week. The Sunday following is Christ the King, November 26. Let us remember Jesus parable of the King…
“The king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:34-40
A couple of weeks ago we concluded this year’s outdoor activities for the Yard Care Group (YCG). The last thing we did was to do a walk around the building. We talked about things we wanted to accomplish next year and what gains were made this year. Slow but steady, year by year, the YCG has made improvements to the curb appeal of St. Luke’s.
I can surely say that I’ve been blessed to get to know and work with the people that have been part of the Tuesday and Thursday morning work group. The first year there were 2 of us, the next year 3, and this year 4. We are not growing as fast as the quilters, but we’re heading in the right direction!
I would also like to acknowledge the great work done by others on their gardens and how lucky St. Luke’s is to have such dedicated people. They show up when it best fits their schedules. If you would like to help but cannot make the designated times, feel free to come in when you can. There are no rules, it’s just about keeping the place looking nice. Like my son told me one day, “It’s not about having time, it’s about making time”.
Every month in our Church Council reports we are asked the question, “Where did you see God at work? How did it live out St. Luke’s Mission? How did it build up the Kingdom?” I see God the Holy Spirit motivating us to work on caring for the grounds. It’s a humble and rewarding stewardship. By doing so, our property says Welcome to those passing by, and possibly stirring the Holy Spirit within them.
Last week the salt buckets were filled, and the snow-shovels were stationed around the building. Yes, it’s that time of the year again! With Learning Tree and St. Luke’s Pre-School staff arriving around 6:30am during the week, there are plenty of opportunities to help with cleaning up the snow before they arrive. We’ve been showing up around 6:00am to get the Ed Wing end of the building cleaned up before they arrive. Then as long as we’re here, we do the rest of the building after that. Parents also show up at noon to pick up their preschooler’s and any time after 3:00 for Learning tree. There are also other opportunities to help when we get daytime snows. When you look at the church calendar, you will find there is something going on every night at St. Luke’s Monday thru Thursday. Here again, there are no rules. If you show up and it’s already done, you know your heart was in the right place.
In a few short months I will be completing my final year as property chair. It has been a privilege to serve St. Luke’s in this capacity. I’m glad that I took on the role as a new retiree. Often there is a huge hole that occurs in a person’s life when there is no longer a full-time job to work at. Although far from being a full-time job, being property chair gave me the sense of purpose, responsibility and structure that I was leaving behind. The flexibility that comes with retirement has been advantageous for both St. Luke’s and myself. As many people before me have stated, I never thought I would be on church council. Though a few people can enter the role in complete comfort, I think the majority have some apprehension. I know I did. But during my tenure, I learned that it is a very welcoming group, full of understanding people, whose common goal is the welfare of St. Luke’s.
Back in its heyday, when St. Luke’s was 2000+ members strong, monetary donations took care of many of the tasks that Property has now taken on with volunteer help. Currently, the property chair has an active role in all of the following functions. The thought is to have a volunteer take on sole responsibility for a single task below, with the exception of snow shoveling and YCG which requires participation by multiple people.
Some of the tasks are:
If you are interested in, or have any questions about the tasks above, feel free call, text, email or catch me between services.