As our home-grown Advent resource this season we are offering a Song Cycle – with a song each week, a keyword, and some activity and prayer suggestions. This post is for Week 0, the week BEFORE Advent begins – November 20th through 26th.
This Week’s Word: PREPARE
This Week’s Song: “People, Look East!”
1. People, look East! The time is near of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look East and sing today: Love the Guest is on the way!
Read the whole poem at this link: https://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=2853
Listen and learn the tune here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SPLN1g_ZFY
People, Look East was written by Eleanor Farjeon, who lived from 1881 to 1965, and published in 1928. Farjeon was a British children’s author and poet. She wrote wonderful short stories and poems, and her Christian faith was often part of her work. She also wrote another well-known hymn, “Morning has Broken” (#8 in our Hymnal).
In this song, Farjeon uses different images to help us think about preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas: Guest, Rose, Bird, Star, Lord.
Why look East? East is the direction of the rising sun. In the Bible, many texts describe God’s salvation as coming from the East. Many churches face towards the East for this reason.
WORD FOR THE WEEK: PREPARE
How to say “Prepare” in ASL: Hold your hands in front of you, a little to one side, palms facing each other, with some space between them.
Now, keeping your hands in the same position with facing palms, move them across in front of your body, making a small loop-the-loop as you go.
Watch the sign here at this link:
SOMETHING TO LEARN…
Which way is East, at your house? Which was is East, at church?
Try finding East in other places you often go.
Notice the sunrise!
PRAYER PRACTICE for this week…
Clean, tidy, or decorate, prayerfully. Prayer doesn’t have to involve sitting still, or reading the words of a prayer from a book. Washing dishes, clearing a table to make room for your Advent wreath, unboxing seasonal decorations, preparing food for yourself or people you love – all of these can be prayerful acts.
Just turn your heart towards God before you begin, and try to do what you are doing with your full attention, focused on the task and what it means to you.
HANDS-ON PROJECT: Prepare your Advent wreath!
This is a good week to prepare your Advent wreath, so you are ready for Advent to begin on Sunday the 27th. Maybe you have a wreath already, and you just need to get it out and set it up. Maybe you don’t have one, and you need to get materials from church or shop for some candles you like. We have simple Advent candles, and booklets with Advent prayers to use, available at church. Reach out to Rev. Miranda if you need to pick something up, or have something dropped off!
The Advent wreath has roots in pre-Christian Europe, when evergreens and candles were symbols of the persistence of life and light through the dark and frozen winter. In the Middle Ages, the custom was Christianized and became a way for families to observe Advent at home.
An Advent wreath can be as simple as four candles – they don’t even have to match! Pillar, jar, or votive candles work well. Set up your candles/wreath somewhere central in your home, like the center of the table where you usually eat. You can decorate your wreath or candles however you like – evergreen cuttings, pine cones, ribbons, whatever feels pretty and special for the season. Purple and blue are traditional Advent colors, but you don’t have to use them.
When you sit down for dinner, or at another quiet moment in your evening, light a candle (or two, or three, or four) and spend a moment praying or just enjoying the light. During the first week of Advent (after the first Sunday of Advent), light one candle; after the second Sunday, light two candles, and so on. You may add a fifth candle to light at Christmas. Adding lights week by week, as it grows darker and darker outside, helps us enter into the anticipation of the season.
These texts offer some other ways to think about preparing for Christmas. Click the links to read the poems and texts!
What is the crying at Jordan? – by Carol Christopher Drake; Hymn #69 in our hymnal.