Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reviewing and Celebrating The Christian Year

The Christian Year concludes at the end of November and begins again with the first Sunday of Advent.  That is a good opportunity to review and celebrate the entire year.  Below are some ways to do that.  I included them in the post for November 24, 2013, but am also putting them here so they can be accessed through the Popcorn Index whenever one might want to do such a review and celebration.

_ The simplest way to review the Christian Year is to bring out all the stoles and/or banners for all the seasons of the year.  As a children’s time, display them for the children and recall which colors go with which seasons.  Link each season to a well-known story about Jesus.  Conclude by grouping them together and looping the white one around them noting that Jesus holds the whole year together.

_ The University Hill Church in Vancouver has created a Christian year calendar for 2013-14 with seasonal rather than monthly pages.  Each page includes art for that season and a list of ways to celebrate that season in worship.  I have not seen the calendar “in person” but based on sample pages on their web site have ordered one for myself and mention it to you.  Get the details and order it at Salt of the Earth: Christians Seasons Calendar.  Sharing this calendar with children would be a good children’s time for this day.

_ The same church shares a plan for a supper reviewing the Christian Year at Celebrating a Christian New Year's Party.  It includes directions for tables decorated for different seasons.  Congregations that are informal in their worship might use the tables as stops along a worship path set up in the sanctuary.  The University Hill list of items for each season might also be a start for a more formal procession of the seasons in other congregations.

Advent - blue with advent wreath/candle
Christmas - white & gold with nativity
Epiphany - green with star, three gifts, bowl of water
Lent - purple with bowl of ashes & crown of thorns
Holy Week - red with palm leaves, cup & plate, crucifix
Easter - white & gold with resurrection cross & figure, white candle
Pentecost - red with circle of friends

_ Another way to celebrate and review the church year in worship is to follow a lessons and carols format.  For each season read a key story or text and sing one song.  Embellish these with bringing in a banner for that season and or highlighting the color changes.  (Perhaps the worship leaders for each season wear stoles for that season.)

_ To sing through the Christian year, sing one or more verses from these songs which are more child friendly than others.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” or “Let All Mortal Flesh”
    Children follow the feelings rather than the words in
    these songs

“Once in Royal David’s City” or “Away in the Manger”
    Simple words retell the story and our relationship to it

“We Three Kings of Orient Are”

“Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley”
    The verses tell what Jesus did and what he calls us to do

“Were You There When the Crucified My Lord?”
    Simple words tell the story

“Jesus Christ is Risen Today”
    Even non-readers can join on the Alleluias

“Breathe on Me Breath of God” or “Spirit”
    The words of the first tell the story better, but
    the chorus of the second invites early readers to sing

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” or “He is King of Kings”
    For Christ the King Sunday

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