Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Wreath

Advent has begun. I trust you all have had a great first Sunday of this season.

My wife and I moved to our town in June. She got a job at the Nazarene Church here as part-time pastor alongside the full-time pastor. I was taken on as a one-day-a-week/unpaid deacon. In one of our recent meetings we decided that I would be in charge of the Advent wreath for this year. I thought about using whatever the church had on hand, but I figured, 'You know what, why not just make one.'

So I did (pictured above). I cut pine branches and holly branches and cedar-looking branches and put them together around a circle-shaped 'oasis'. The symbolism of the different foliage is significant, so we took the first part of the service to have a liturgy explaining and sanctifying the making of the Advent wreath. We were happy to find that after the service, many of the congregation complimented the 'new' Advent wreath and appreciated the explanation.

In light of this, I wonder how many of our congregations know what the Advent wreath means? Do any of you take time to explain the meaning of all the elements and not just the candles? I had only participated in a service like this a couple of times and found it to be a really positive experience for our largely 'liturgically deprived' congregation.




Scott M. Collins said...

"The symbolism of the different foliage is significant" .. Don't hold us in suspense or make us google - what connections did you make??

Joseph said...

Simply put:

Cedar represents the royalty, strength and longevity of Christ the King.

Pine (evergreen branches) represents the eternal Jesus, everlasting.

Holly represents the crown of thorns and the red berries represent the blood of Christ on the cross.

Brannon Hancock said...

that's a great looking wreath, Joseph. I don't have much to add except, well done! can you link us to the liturgy you used relating to the wreath, or upload it somehow?

Eric + said...

Every time I begin to explain something to my people, I see my now deceased friend scolding me:

"Any symbol needing explained is NOT a symbol."

However, I do think some education is necessary, but I tend to err on the side of brevity letting the symbol speak primarily for itself.

Evan and Julia Abla said...

I've had a family Advent wreath-making night on a evening before the season began. We encouraged all types of families to be a part of the event (singles, empty-nesters, children w/o parents attending, etc.). I put kits together that included the wreath, candles, and a devotional book. At the event we made items to represent each week's texts and theme. The booklet included the background and meaning of the wreath, but also some ways families could tie in what we were doing on Sundays with the what they did the rest of the week.
I would agree with Eric's friend, that something is lost when you have to caption every image/symbol in order to effectively communicate meaning. There is a place for image to stand on its own without the condescension of word. That's part of the beauty of image. Nevertheless, I think there are a lot of opportunities to teach and explain these "new" things that don't necessarily have to be formalized and can be really helpful in connecting people to the rich meanings behind these materials and practices.