Advent is a Liturgical season made up of the four weeks preceding Christmas. It is a season of preparation for the Nativity of our Lord, and a time to reflect on Christ's promise to come again. Advent derives its name from the Latin adventus, meaning "coming, or arrival". In this season we pause to remember the Christ who came on the first Christmas, the Christ who promises to be with us now, and the Christ who promises to come again to reconcile all of creation to himself. It is a season of embracing the mystery of a God who is, who was, and who is to come!
Beyond this, Advent is a time where we are given permission to rest... pause... wait. While the season leading up to Christmas is often one that is culturally marked by frantic planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and travelling, Advent offers another way. It is a time to rest in God's promises, discern God's mysteries, and embrace the traditional Advent themes: Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love. One of the best-known customs for the season is the Advent wreath. The wreath and winter candle-lighting in the midst of growing darkness strengthen images of Advent found in the Bible. The unbroken circle of greens is clearly an image of everlasting life, a victory wreath, the crown of Christ, or the wheel of time itself. Christians use the wreath as a sign that Christ reaches into our time to lead us to the light of everlasting life. The four candles mark the progress of the four weeks of Advent and the growth of light. In many homes, the family gathers for prayer around the wreath.
"Presence" Our 2021 Advent and Christmas Theme
As the vibrant fall gives way to the bleak cold of winter, it is easy for each of us to draw inward and isolate. Refrains of disconnection and loneliness have been offered by so many in our community and in our world over this past year, but this is especially true during the winter time. Historically, God’s people have gathered around the warmth of the Advent candles—with Advent wreaths and hymns of hope—to tell God’s story of faithfulness through this dark and mysterious season. So in this particular season of Advent, it is only right that we gather our hearts around stories of God’s Presence.
Whenever we feel alone, God’s spirit is binding us together in the warmth of love. Our Narrative Lectionary lessons remind us that God’s presence brings life, even in barren and trying times. In exile, among dry bones, as a child, God’s presence surrounds us in surprising ways, reminding us that we are never truly alone. God will go to any length to show love, even becoming flesh and dwelling with us.
Presents under the tree are fleeting, but God’s presence is eternal. Beginning November 28, join us this Advent as we gather ourselves around this word of hope.
Advent News See the full list below of opportunities to join in throughout the season of Advent
We are pleased to offer a service of Advent Choral Evensong beginning Wednesday, December 1 at 7:30 pm. This service will be available in person as well as live-streamed each Wednesday on Facebook and YouTubeduring Advent. Choral Evensong has a long history dating back as far as the Reformation. The service itself is rather short (30-40 minutes) and is mostly if not entirely sung by the choir and presiding minister, allowing the listener an opportunity for reflection and prayer. Some of the more traditionally sung portions of the service include settings of the Magnificat (song of Mary), the Nunc Dimitis (song of Simeon), as well as one of our earliest hymns dating back to the 3rd century, “Phos Hilaron” (Greek, meaning, “O Joyous Light”). This particular hymn setting can be found in our hymnal, ELW 229. The use of candles with minimal lighting will enhance the service experience and trustfully foster a feeling of peacefulness and nearness with God during this Advent season, as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. We do hope you will join us each Wednesday evening during Advent as we end the day in song and prayer!
ADVENTure Sunday December 5, 12:30pm in the MAC
Join us in making Advent wreaths, exchanging cookies, and walking through the scripture journey to Jesus' birth. You will receive materials to take home with activities to do weekly to prepare your hearts as a family for the arrival of Jesus. Hot beverages and light snacks will be provided. You don't have to bring cookies to participate in Adventure Sunday. If you would like to participate in the cookie exchange, bring 3 dozen of your favorite Christmas cookies with recipe cards. You will leave with 2 - 3 cookies from each tray and recipes to take home. If you would like Ashley to print copies of your recipe, email it to her by Dec. 3.
Pay for poinsettias (write “Poinsettias” on the memo line). Place your check in the offering plate or mail it to the church office (281 East Market Street, Harrisonburg 22801).
Payments reserve poinsettias. Poinsettias may be picked up from the Gathering Area after the last service on Christmas Eve. Sign up deadline is Sunday, December 5 (no additional flowers will be ordered after that date).
Christmas News See the full list below of opportunities to join in throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas
Children's Christmas Pageant: "Do Not Be Afraid - A Christmas Pageant" Sunday, December 19
We are doing Do Not Be Afraid: A Christmas Pageant from Illustrated Ministry. The pageant is centered on the narratives surrounding Jesus’ birth from the gospels of Matthew and Luke and will premiere in person and online Sunday, December 19. If your family is interested in participating, contact Children’s Minister Ashley Saunders as soon as possible at email@example.com. Videos need to be submitted by December 5.
Red Carpet Premiere of Do Not Be Afraid: A Christmas Pageant (Red Carpet event, 12:30-1:00; Movie Time, 1:00) Join us December 19 for a red-carpet premiere of our Christmas Pageant. Get dressed up in your Christmas Best and celebrate the hard work that brought our pageant together. We will have snacks in the Gathering Area, and then the children will get to walk on the red carpet into the sanctuary where we will watch the Christmas pageant together on a big screen. It will be a fun afternoon celebrating the youth of Muhlenberg Lutheran Church! The Pageant will be available on Facebook and YouTube later that afternoon.
Longest Night: Community Worship Tuesday, December 21, 7:00pm - Trinity Presbyterian Church
LONGEST NIGHT COMMUNITY WORSHIP The longest night of the year is December 21, and it has become a meaningful time to recognize that the Christmas season is often not all brightness and fun. In particular this year, we have much to grieve and many losses to acknowledge. The Harrisonburg Community Longest Night service will be hosted this year at Trinity Presbyterian Sunday, December 21, 7:00pm. This service of word and song will provide an opportunity to be honest about our pain and be reminded of Christ’s light that shines into dark places.
Christmas Eve Fireside Service Friday, December 24, 2:00pm - Behind the Ott St. House
Our 2:00 pm Fireside Christmas Eve Service will be an opportunity to gather for worship outside. As Christ's presence warms us on Christmas, we'll gather around the warmth of the fire-pits as we share an abbreviated Christmas Eve liturgy. We'll have the opportunity to hear the Christmas story, share holy communion, and sing Silent Night together.
Hot cider and cocoa will be available, and you can pick up candles to take home for our live-streamed service at 6:30 pm.
Christmas Eve Services in the Sanctuary Friday, December 24 - 4:30pm, 6:30pm (also live-streamed), 9:00pm
4:30pm, 6:30pm (also live-streamed), & 9:00 pm Christmas Eve Services will feature a full traditional liturgy, singing of beloved hymns, the proclamation of the birth of Christ, Biblical Storytelling, Holy Communion, and a candlelit singing of Silent Night!
The 6:30pm service will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube so you can worship digitally wherever you are. We recognize that Christmas Eve will be a time where more people are likely to join us for worship and it will be difficult to maintain the same physical distancing that we do on Sunday mornings.
Properly fitting masks will be required and our pre-packaged Holy Communion practices will remain the same for in-person worship. It is strongly encouraged that you are fully vaccinated before attending worship, and we fully support each family discerning together the best and safest option for worship attendance. With a continued downward trend in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccination rates, we plan to resume some congregational singing during Advent and Christmas.
Sunday, December 26 10:00am Worship Service in the Sanctuary
Sunday, December 26, will be a continuation of our Christmas celebration! We will have one service of Holy Communion at 10:00am, with readings and carols proclaiming the birth of our Savior.
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church 281 East Market Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801