United in Christ at Christ United
Rev. Matt Stewart, Senior Pastor
The Christian year is divided into two cycles – Christmas and Easter. Each cycle has a time of preparation, a time of celebration, and a time of growth. For the Christmas cycle, the time of preparation begins four Sundays prior to Christmas Day and is called Advent. The first Sunday of Advent, which in 2013 is December 1, is the first Sunday of the new Christian year.
Although Christmas items began to appear in the stores before Halloween, the church celebrates time differently than the society around us. The four Sundays of Advent (December 1, 8, 15, 22) are a time of spiritual preparations for the celebration of Christmas. Our anticipation builds and our readiness to celebrate and to be aware of what we really are celebrating increases as we walk through this season of preparation. To help us mark the time, we use the Advent Wreath lighting an additional candle on the wreath each week.
For many years, the Church used the color purple for Advent. Recently, we have changed to using blue. Purple is the color that symbolizes penitence and mourning or royalty. However, this season is a season of hope and expectation. The sky that has been dark through the night turns a brilliant blue just prior to the sun’s rising. Thus, blue is the color of hope and the color we use for Advent.
I encourage you to walk faithfully this journey of Advent and to make the most of this opportunity to grow in your relationship with God and the celebration of Christ’s coming in Christmas. To do this, you might commit that you and your family will be in worship all four Sundays of Advent. You might also consider making your own Advent wreath to use in a family devotional each night of Advent. Let Advent be for you this year a means of God’s grace to you as you make the most of this time.
Christmas is the season we celebrate that God is with us. Historically, we celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and the Shepherd’s following the star to his birth place. However, we also celebrate that God is with and comes to us in many surprising ways, places, and times. Where might Christ appear to us this season of Christmas? Where might we experience anew that God is with us? Then, we also celebrate that Christ is coming, so we live our lives in preparation for such a day and that until that day God’s kingdom might come through us.
Christmas begins at sun down on Christmas Eve and continues until January 6 – Epiphany Day – when we celebrate the wise men saw his star and came bearing gifts. If we begin our celebration too soon, then we tend to be ready to quit the celebration late on Christmas Day. However, when we use Advent to prepare, then we are really ready to celebrate the entire season of Christmas in all its fullness.
As your pastor, I am looking forward to our first Advent and Christmas together! May your Advent and Christmas season be most blessed!
Blessings and Peace,
Just for You...Sermon Audio
Christmas Eve Worship Services
Candlelight & Communion
5PM - for those who cannot get out after dark
7PM - children's service; wear your PJ's or sweatsuits!
11PM - most formal service; choir & orchestra
Sunday's @ CUMC!
Worship ~ 9 & 11AM
Sunday School ~ 10AM
Sunday Serve Up (Youth Ministry) ~ 5PM, F/H
Young Adults ~ 5PM, F/H & WW Rm
Kidz For Christ ~ 4-6:30PM, Admin Bldg
1st Sunday of the month, Communion is offered
5th Sunday of the month, ONE worship service followed by covered dish luncheon (except December)