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Monday, November 09, 2009

2nd Monday Discussion: Advent-ures

There are only 20 planning days left until Advent.


As an interim pastor, I've been in four different churches in the past four years, and I have to learn a new Advent routine wherever I go. I know some churches have moved to blue instead of purple as the liturgical color, and the Christmas Carol battles are waged everywhere even if the participants differ.

Tell us, what are your Advent traditions?

Do you have a wreath-making party or some sort of Advent workshop? Who lights the wreath during worship (if you light one)? Will you sing carols or have a Christmas pageant during Advent? When do children in the congregation get to hear the story of the baby in the manger? And if you are in a church that does not observe Advent, what is December like in the life of your church?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, and if you haven't found/bought/ordered the candles for your Advent wreath, consider this your reminder!


  1. Goodness, that's close!

    Our Advent candle is lit each week by a different family, I think it's generally one that has joined the church recently.

    No carols, no way, no how. O, Come, O, Come Emmanuel throughout this season...otherwise it's things that The Hymnal marks for Advent.

  2. Evening services are the dread issue in Advent for us. Our die-hard PM attenders want same-old, same-old. They don't feel like they've accrued their full allotment of God-points unless there is a sermon,etc.
    But, we preachers & worship leaders kind of like the opportunity to do something different in the evenings:
    A Christmas Mourning Service
    Lessons & Carols,

    We'll see how it goes this year. . .

  3. Advent wreath lit by a different family each week (though I wish the worship committee would expand their idea of family beyond cute people with cute little kids).

    This year I found a short response to sing after the lighting:

    (sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

    Light of Jesus (light of Jesus),
    show the way (show the way),
    shine in us forever (shine in us forever),
    this we pray (this we pray).

    I can't fight the no Christmas carols until Christmas battle for many Sundays, due to the church's hymnal - woefully lacking in Advent hymns. Two Sundays is about all I can get ...

  4. We have decided to do the Holden Evening Prayer for Advent this year. It is hard to find room in an academic calendar to schedule services--especially when we are fighting finals and the beginning of Christmas break.

    As such, we're doing two concurrent Mondays with the Holden Evening Prayer. Advent 1 and 2 will be the first Monday and Advent 3 and 4 will be the second. We'll have soup and stuff like that. One of the director's of Campus Ministry and I will alternate between offering reflections and "presiding."

    Campus Ministry just "built" a new chapel in the basement of one of the freshman dormitories. We'll be using that new, contemplative space if all goes well.

    I won't advocate carols during worship, but I love to listen to them in the office or in my room--even a month ago I was doing so. (I can just hear your groaning. Perhaps I'll learn with age...)

  5. We have a wreath lighting with prayer each Sunday morning in Advent -- I think last year our acolyte did the lighting while the pastor or AM led the prayer. We also sing Advent hymns during the service, although the Christmas 800-pound-gorilla tends to assert itself elsewhere in church life.

  6. Oh...and I think we're doing Holden Vespers for Wednesday evenings...I'm not in the Worship Committee loop, but I think I heard that was in the works.

  7. I've actually loosened up my attitude about Christmas carols because I worry that we are going to lose them if our kids don't learn to sing them. At school they are learning secular music; it's our responsibility to teach them our own traditions.
    To that end, we're doing a Church School rotation on the 4 Sundays of Advent based on 4 scripture passages and four carols. Meanwhile, in worship, we'll be doing Advent.

  8. I'm in a new church this year and have no clue what Advent will hold! Worship Committee meets this week and I'm more than ready to be filled in on what their traditions are and to begin to feel out what works and what needs to be weeded out. Nothing like last minute planning to keep the adrenaline running! I do know that the candles have been ordered and the decorating is planned and scheduled. Beyond that . . .

    And Dancing, I too love that response! I'm taking that one with me to the meeting!

  9. Is it a tradition if you've only done it once? :)

    The year before last, I organized Wednesday evening prayer services for the Wednesdays in Advent. I wanted there to be space in the midst of the craziness for people to simply sit in the holy hush of Advent. The services were very simple and followed the evening prayer service liturgy. We also got creative (for us, anyway). We dimmed the lights in the sanctuary and used more candles, an Episcopal priest friend of mine came and led us in chanting the Magnificat, our musicians played special pieces for meditation, and there was lots of silence. Last year we didn't have the prayer services, but we tried to encourage the congregation to engage in Advent devotionals at home, so we (I) created a devotional book for use each day. But the congregation missed the evening prayer services, so we'll be doing those again this year.

    Our Sunday worship service is traditional - a family lights the Advent wreath, and we've expanded the idea of "family" to include any few people in the church who would like to do it. A few single people, a Bible study group, are just some of the "families" who have lit the wreath in recent years.

    I think we make it to about the third Sunday without any Christmas carols. I agree with Dancing - we need more Advent hymns!

  10. I came across these Advent hymns set to Christmas tunes last night. I may use a couple of them this season because these tunes are more familiar, but not too peppy. The main complaint we have is that many of the Advent hymns in our hymnal are just too difficult to sing.

  11. I love your responsive song Dancing with God. We made one up a few years ago that goes to the tune, London's burning. It goes...
    Advent candles (Advent candles)
    Light the darkness (Light the darkness)
    Get ready (Get ready)
    Jesus is here (Jesus is here)

  12. Yikes is right. Not at ALL ready, still in the THICK of stewardship drive.

    We do have an advent wreath - last year experimented with NOT have families light it, but a responsive reading by the whole congregation. Its cute, but so hard to understand when the kiddos do it...

    I am always looking for a really good reading, so if you have any ideas, I would love to hear them. Hmm, maybe today I will work on that :)

    I'm with Songbird on Christmas Carols. I dont want people's only exposure to them to be at Walmart - "yes, these are our songs to sing and our story to tell, so let's sing and tell it" is my motto.

  13. Our Advent wreath is lit before worship by the ceremony. We stick strictly to Advent hymns, except for the first half of the service on Advent 3, when we combine two of our services and--in kairos rather than chronos time--the kids do the Christmas pageant! On Advent 2, we'll have Advent lessons & carols at the 10:30 service, with our adult and children's choirs, handbells, woodwind ensemble, and congregational hymns; it's a wonderful service. On Advent 1, we'll make Advent wreaths during the coffee hour that follows each service.

    This year for the first time, we are going to do a blue Christmas service; thanks to some of the gals here for helping me out with ideas!

    Iris, I'll check out those hymns; there are a couple of non-worship activities at which we always talk about singing but want to avoid carols.

  14. Advent planning sems relatively in hand this year (it had to happen eventually) instead of starting to think about roughly now....

    WE have no carols on A1 or A2. A3 is pageant sunday and so all carols. A4 is going to be a mix.

    I have to start finding volunteer families for the wreath soon I guess. I have liturgies for them all written (the stuff I have written for Advent this far is all on my worship blog, link is at my place)

    my mother defined a tradition as something you did once---and it worked.

  15. Mmmm...Wednesday evening prayer in Advent. Mmmmm.....

  16. I am doing my 2nd Advent in this church as their interim, but there aren't any traditions for activities. Last year we let adults make wreaths and kids made advent calendars with chores to do each day(i.e. call grandparent or other older person and wish them a blesed advent).
    Our lighting is an odd thing. each week is done by a family with young children.Except for Christmas Eve. Te same family lights the wreath on the 24th every year. This is inspite of the fact that the children are in their 20s. Reason for this? It would not be Christmas Eve for Little "D" unless she ligths the wreath.
    So the family provides the tree each year, can't complain too much.
    Have the same battles as everyone over our hymns. We meet halfway and start singing something Christmas (one) each week along with advent hymns. Just as well, the organsit cannot play all of the advent hymns. LOL.
    We do have a christmas gift making day for the kids one Saturday and eat pizza. FUN!!! Love it. I could do that all day(well, almost, I do get tried).
    And the last little deal is the luncheon we have in honor of a past saint of the church. She used to host all the ladies for a luncheon and you did an ornament exchange. In memory of her, anohter family hosts the luncheon and we do the ornament excahgne.
    They ahve fun traditions here. But, a bit odd with the candle ligthing.
    We are also re-viving our wednesday night advent vespers. Another lady in the church wanted to do it and she is putting it together. Yay for volunteers!!! Woo-woot


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