St Matthews Digital
Advent and Christmas
21 November 2021
Advent wreath making
Cate Thorn shows us how to make an Advent wreath at home. This was a lockdown video. The Advent Wreath making starts at 9 minutes 50 seconds.
Rev Cate Thorn
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St Thomas' Church, Freemans Bay
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07 August 2022
What is faith?
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Farewell sermon for Michael Bell
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Advent wreath making
Nau mai, haere mai. I'd like to add my voice of welcome to you, to the service of worship at St Matthew in the City this morning. Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical year.
The last Sunday before Advent, if you like, it's kind of like a New Year's Eve for us. So Dmitry and I have chosen to put together a selection of photos that were taken during the year of the events that did take place, the people that did gather at St. Matthews. We've been in lockdown three to four months now, and it can be hard to remember and to celebrate the gathered life together that we have had this last year.
And as we look to Advent, we were uncertain, whether we would be able to return to in person worship.
We wanted to mark the change to the season of Advent in a way that we could share together. Even if we couldn't gather in person. The tradition of the Advent wreath with its ritual of weekly candle-lighting arose as an idea. So this Sunday during our sermon, we're going to explore making an Advent wreath with the resources, we have available to us.
I'm going to tell you the story of the Advent wreath. As you hear the story, you might like to think whether there are bits of it, you would like to weave into to your wreath, And over this next week, leading to the first Sunday of Advent to create a wreath with what you have.
So that we together can light a candle on the first Sunday of Advent. It may be that we get to gather in person during Advent but even so we still can separately. But knowing we're doing it together, practice the season of Advent in our own unique way, yet in common, lighting a candle together each week.
Let's go to our opening. Greetings.
Grace to you and peace from God, our creator, the love at our beginning and without end in our midst, and with us, God is with us. Here we find new life.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God where God has made a holy dwelling. God is in the midst of the city, it shall not be moved. God will help us reach the break of day.
00:03:05.300 --> 00:03:24.199 00:04:31.000 --> 00:04:34.199 The sentence for today, the one who rules justly, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
Can we pray together 00:05:18.399 --> 00:05:25.199 Hear the gospel of Christ, according to John chapter 18, beginning at verse 33.
Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus and asked him. Are you the king of the Jews?
Jesus answered. Do you ask this on your own or did others tell you about me?
Pilate replied. I am not a Jew. Am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done? Jesus answered. My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.
Pilate asked him. So you are a King. Jesus answered, you say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this, I came into the world to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth, listens to my voice.
This is the gospel of Christ.
As I said at the opening of our service this morning, although it is the last Sunday before event. We decided this week that we would enjoy to explore talking about how to make an Advent wreath. We're not sure when we're going to be able to gather again. So if we each and our place with the resources, we have available to us, can make a wreath, then we can join together in the act of lighting, a candle each Sunday. So I want to explore a little bit. The idea of the wreath, this wreath here, of course, is not one I made.
In times before Christianity, particularly in the northern hemisphere the idea of having a wreath the circle of Evergreen, those things that have not died in Winter and the increasing number of lights that can be lit - random lights, but in a circular pattern they rule the idea of the hope and promise that light would return to the Earth because particularly in the far parts of the northern hemisphere I don't think light shines at all.
Now, we in our place in the southern hemisphere, we have brought to these traditions with us. And so today we're going to explore the story of how this wreath became part of our Christian Tradition at Advent.
Like many of our beloved Advent Traditions, the modern-day tradition of the Advent wreath originates and Germany. The story goes that in 1839 Johann Workmen at Lutheran Minister and Germany built a wreath out of an old cartwheel to help the children of his mission school count the days until Christmas. Apparently they would come each day and plague him with questions about when Christmas was coming. As you can see here, I don't have a cartwheel. In fact, what I have here is a circle with oasis. Oasis, is a material you use if you would like to make a wreath with living plants in so you can soak that and get it wet and then plant through it, living plants, like the Evergreens like Ivy or Magnolia. Whichever you have available to you and you can make a living wreath. Here are useless to help make a circle. And also, I'm a little bit challenged when it comes to living wreaths. You'll also notice that in the circle, these candles aren't wax ones. These are LED candles Another option if you're in a place where you can't, you've got alert smoke alarms or it's just simpler for you to have an LED lamp. Or you might have young children. The idea of it was that there was one of these big candles that marked each Sunday and one in the middle for Christmas day, The little ones in between, according to the original one, were actually red candles, I'm afraid mine aren't red and then you'll see that there's five in between and if you're a mathematician you'll go well what happened to Saturday.
Well the way it works is that the children would light one on Sunday when they came for prayers and then they would like one each day during the week that they were at school. So of course what would happen. And we've got the first Sunday in Advent, Monday and Tuesday. And then we've got Wednesday and so forth.
We keep going around until we hit the next Sunday. And so, therefore, it's a way to count down to it's sort of like an advent calendar. You think, if you had a little children, it's good way to do it, but what's quite delightful also as it is that it reminds you to mark each day with pausing and with lighting a candle. You can use that time in the evening if you like. Well, this tradition was part of the tradition and Germany and it wasn't widely popular until the 19th century.
And then German immigrants brought the tradition with them to America in the 20th century.
Of course, as the custom evolved people began to source materials from the pine tree used so dominantly for Christmas decoration in particular if you look anywhere in the UK or places with Evergreens, like the Holly and the mistletoe - those sorts of things become part of reds.
And so we find the wreath is present in our tradition. We can already see how it has evolved to begin with in pre-christian time there was the idea of the circle, the Everlast, that life would return. Again, there's the idea of light and to Darkness and then we have Youngman using the wreath in Advent as a teaching tool for his young students, where they would light a Candle each day. So that they would know that they were when Christmas was approaching. And then it moved and become part of our Christian.
Tradition. And so each of the things within the wreath, began to be given some sort of symbolic, meaning, within the Christian story and the candles themselves became colored candles. So if we look at the wreath itself, the first of all, it's made of Evergreens. So it's the idea of continuing life, because in the northern hemisphere, it's getting darker. And most trees have dropped their leaves. So, this is a sign that life continues, even in darkness, the wreath's evergeen Circular shape, signifies continuous life that has no beginning or end. The pine cones - there are some nestled in here might suggest hope and the seed of life. Holly and berries have also been added and their red color, some say points ahead to Jesus' sacrifice, death and Resurrection.
As Christ's Advent or coming draws near a new candle is lit each week on a Sunday, combining with the candle of the passing week. You might think of the lighting of the weekly, candle as a spiritual contemplation, and if we're not able to come together as a people on a Sunday, we can do this in common each Sunday and know although we are separate from one another. We are joining in this act of being still together on a Sunday.
The first candle in this tradition is purple. It symbolizes hope it is. Also, sometimes referred to as the prophecy candle and remembrance of the prophets who Christian such as Isaiah, who Christians, say foretold the birth of Christ and week 2, we have the second candle. This also is purple and we talked about it representing faith. It is also sometimes called the Bethlehem candle as a reminder of Mary's, and Joseph's Journey, to Bethlehem. week 3, although the difference may look subtle. this candle is traditionally pink and symbolizing joy. it's known as the Gaudete Sunday, which is the word for joy. It's also sometimes known as The Shepherd's candle and some people say the rose pink, lets us know that we are in the joy and delight of being just about half way towards Christmas.
And the fourth candle is, again, purple, it was understood to symbolize peace. It is sometimes known as the Angels' candle for their message. Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards all And then of course, we have the larger white candle.
It is optional because often it is, it is lit on Christmas Eve. It's understood as symbolizing light and Purity.
It's called the Christ Candle. It is sometimes seen as optional at home, I guess because most of us are at church to see the candle lit on Christmas Eve.
So, here we are 2021 a year of another year of pandemic and extended lockdown.
And here we are also in the southern hemisphere where our days are getting lighter rather than darker. So all you really need it's quite simple for an Advent wreath is four or five candles and how you construct your wreath around that can be up to you. As you can see, I have chosen to pick some items that reflect the light. I've chosen these beautiful shells that come from the South Pacific and they reflect the light of the candles. It's good to have the candles but they reflect rather than be darkened by the wreath and then I've picked certain things that have significance for me here and I did not do this that I've caused no damage to sit Matthews, but here we have a piece of limestone from the walls of St. Matthews. That must have been knocked off and I picked it up when I was there last week and here are some buttons that are made from Paua shell, the Abalone of of the South Pacific and they were. Buttons are all one of my first clergy shirts And here is a fish or model of a fish. No fish was harmed in the making of this and it speaks about the Abundant Life of this island that we live in, surrounded by sea. So you might imagine the shells that are part of this are part of the being surrounded by the sea, the shells that come from different places and parts. And here is a piece of bark. That's very fragile. It was on the beach. I imagine. It's come off drift wood. It's almost unimaginable to see how it can hold. And the feathers of the birds that shed on our beaches. And over here, of course, these candles are made from candles that have been repurposed that Dimitry makes from the candles from St Matthew's that have come to the end of their life. So St Matthew's gets to be included as part of the spirit of my Advent wreath. And here is a stone that we usually use in the making of the labyrinth and perched upon it is this beautiful butterfly. When we had the vigil for the mosque shooting In Christchurch somebody came and laid this beautifully, handmade butterfly on the mound of stones. So as you can see there's not a theme of Evergreen but there's still the circular theme of Life continuing. There's a theme of the South Pacific where the things that are native to us are included in this the circle of light reflected.
It might be that you have candles that require special meaning for you, or maybe you have stones or shells or flowers or leaves or maybe you have a piece of writing a poem a headline, or maybe a picture that you would like to include in your wreath over this Advent season. As you go about each day in Advent, the first week, of course, we have the candle that we light for hope, you might like to go through your week and think of things of hope break into your world. And once again you might want to pick up a symbol that you bring and place within your wreath, so that your journey with a sign of hope in your first week. The same with week 2 a week of faith, week 3 of joy and week 4 of peace. As you wander through as you walk, the Journey of your Advent, carry those things in your heart and see what awakens. And what is brought to life as you notice and as you gather them, they may well help to gather you prepare you to open you to be aware of the divine presence in and with you, able to be known in the world and through you, for others, whatever you can find bring it together, make it part of your journey of Advent as you journey towards that moment on Christmas day, where we say the Divine is alive within us has come to birth through us. And in that moment we light the middle candle the Christ candle Harere mai e te wairua tapu, whakarongo mai These are prayers for Sunday the 21st of November.
At a time when we continue in lockdown to manage covid-19 and where our situation continues, uncertain and perplexing on the eve of St. Cecilia's day, the patron saint of music and the last Sunday of the church year. We pray for beauty, serenity, and peace.
They just think of the church, the world and ourselves.
May the church offer us that otherworldly quality, which takes us into realms of contemplation reflection, serenity and beauty.
May the inner peace and calm which is part of our faith be an element in our everyday life Cop21 in Glasgow has finished with an agreement which makes us aware of just how much hard work still needs to be done to ensure climate change does not overwhelm us.
Thank goodness. Thank God, - for the role of the church, in representation on the spot and in the prayerfulness of Christians worldwide in their desire for a positive outcome.
For our own people. Let us think of those in our Parish family who are distressed by the covid lockdown.
Whose lives and businesses are turned upside down by the pandemic.
Let us pray for the sick in mind, and spirit.
Let us pray for those who are dying and those who have died.
And as we search for a person to lead the music in this community, let us pray that a skilled musician with finely honed administrative skills will make themselves known to us. May we call to mind the role of all musicians in the church. As we celebrate Saint Cecilia tomorrow.
May the beauty of Music, be our gift to the city, and to ourselves.
And in the words of the 19th century poet, Robert Bridges, let us conclude my eyes for beauty pine.
my soul for God's good grace.
No other care nor hope is mine.
To Heaven I turn my face.
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