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The Advent Wreath

The central symbol of our preparation for the coming of Christmas is the "Advent wreath", a ring of evergreen with four candles fixed to it. One candle is lit ceremonially on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so on. Advent wreath The ring is an ancient symbol of the eternal nature of God - it has no beginning and no end. The evergreen has often been holly and ivy, and ribbons are hung from the ring to anticipate the joy of Christmas.
The 5th candle, the white one in the middle, is included in our celebration, and is for Christmas Day itself.

PRAYER FOR THE BLESSING OF THE CANDLE

Blessed are you, Lord God of the Universe, Father of Light. We ask you to bless this candle which will be for us the symbol of Christ's presence in our midst. He came to be the light of the world. Help us to spread his light as we wait in joyful hope for his final coming in glory.
Jesse Tree
The Jesse tree began as a stained glass window which showed the genealogy of Jesus in the shape of a tree.


Christmas tree decorations are partly modelled on this idea, with symbols representing the history of salvation, hence the angel for the annunciation, the star over Bethlehem, lights for Christ the light of the world.
The Jesse tree The Jesse tree was concerned with the history of God's people as foretold in the Old Testament, leading up to the birth of Jesus and his descent from David. It is therefore more suitable for Advent - anticipating but not yet celebrating Christmas.

At the beginning of Advent the branches are bare but each Sunday the children will decorate it with symbols, objects or messages during the 10.30 Mass
Advent
"Prepare the way of the Lord"

The word comes from the Latin 'adventus' meaning 'coming'. There are three ways in which this can be considered:

The coming of Jesus to Bethlehem, foretold by Isaiah, awaited by Israel through the centuries, and announced by John the Baptist
The coming of Jesus among us as we celebrate Christmas this year, 'Anno Domini' - the year of the Lord A.D.
The coming of Jesus in glory at the end of time when he comes to judge the world.

The beginning of Advent marks the beginning of the church's year. The length of the Advent season varies depending on the day on which Christmas itself occurs. Sometimes there are only three weeks and a few days, but the four Sundays of Advent follow the same theme each year and help us to be ready for the celebration. We sing acclamations for the theme of each week, "Change your lives, he's coming, the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, for the reign of God is near."


1st Sunday
"Be Ready! because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

The gospel warns us to be ever-vigilant and especially to think of the third theme of Advent, the second coming of Christ in glory.

The liturgical colour for this week and next is purple to remind us that we need to "Stay awake, be ready, you do not know the hour when the Lord is coming."

The first candle

2nd
Sunday
John the Baptist
Today the church calls us to prepare for the Lord's coming and for the reign of God. We call to mind our unworthiness before God, listening to the warning voiceof John : A voice cries in the wilderness,
"Prepare the way of the Lord."
   

3rd
Sunday
On this day the candle lit is rose-coloured instead of purple as the theme of the liturgy is 'Rejoice!'

Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind see again, and the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised to life
and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.
4th candle
4th Sunday of Advent
Let the Lord enter. He is the King of glory.

Psalm 23
The Word was made flesh;
he lived among us and we saw his glory.
John 1.9.
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Carols

Many of our earlier carols do not simply tell the story of Bethlehem, but also reflect on its significance as the beginning of salvation, 'Emmanuel', God with us. While they celebrate a birth many of them also link it to death and resurrection. A typical 'holly and ivy' carol, this one is from the west country and is known as the 'Sans Day Carol':

Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk
And Mary bore Jesus who was wrapped in silk

And Mary bore Jesus Christ, our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood it is the holly,
holly, holly,
And the first tree in the greenwood it is the holly

Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass
And Mary bore Jesus who died on the cross..

Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died for us all...

Now the holly bears a berry, as blood it is red,
Then trust we our Saviour who rose from the dead...

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What does
Advent mean?

and

Who was
Santa Claus?

 

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