Monday, January 31, 2011

Try This! Candlemas

Candlemas is this Wednesday, February 2nd, forty days after Christmas. On this day we remember the surprising events that surrounded Jesus' Presentation in the Temple as a baby, recorded in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:21-40). We have recently meditated on this scripture with many of the children in the True Vine and Good Shepherd Atria. We learned about Simeon and Anna, two devout Jewish elders who recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Because the prophet Simeon called Jesus "a light to enlighten the nations," candles are at the center of this celebration. To learn more about Candlemas, see this post at Building Faith, the online Christian Education Community of Church Publishing.

Celebrate Candlemas with your family this year! It would be fun to read the scriptural account from Luke together before dinner or at bedtime. Children could act out the story as you read, or use toy figures you have on hand to visualize it. Try eating dinner by candlelight - collect all the candles you have in your house or buy a cheap bag of tea lights for the center of the table. You could gather to pray together, and light a candle for each prayer concern or thanksgiving. (Young children can light a candle from a lit taper with careful supervision). Or come to Church to celebrate Candlemas this year!

At Christ Church, we will be gathering on this special day for a Solemn Choral Evensong.  The evening begins at 6:30 pm and includes discussion of the feast day and service, candle-lighting, a procession, the sung service of Evensong, and a potluck supper.  (You can call the Church Office to figure out what to bring!)
Evensong is a beautiful service for tweens and teens. It may be a bit too late for those of you with young children - find a sitter, or play "rock, paper, scissors" to decide who gets to come!  If we have interest, I would be happy to provide child care for services like this in the future.

Whichever path you choose, find a few moments to enjoy the light of Christ this Candlemas!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Epiphany - Growing Time!

Our Magi material from the True Vine Atrium
Epiphany began on January 6th with the celebration of Jesus' surprising visit from the Magi. With these mysterious visitors from afar came the realization that Jesus was born to reveal God's love to the entire world, not just the faithful community that awaited him. Jesus is a light to enlighten the nations! My beautiful new Epiphany star and all of the candles we have been lighting at our house are good reminders of the light of Jesus and our call to follow!

The season of Epiphany continues for four to nine weeks, depending upon the date of Easter. This year, Epiphany ends on March 9th, when we begin our preparation for Easter with Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.  I'm sure you've noticed that in Epiphany, green returns to the sanctuary!  We have green hangings from the pulpit and lectern, a green dossal curtain (left), and a green stole and chasuble for Rev. Peter.

In the atrium, we often call this season "Growing Time," because in it we can grow into all of the wonderful discoveries we made in the rich and exciting seasons of Advent and Christmas. We also grow in our ministries and mission - getting on with the work we have been called to do.  We hear the scriptural accounts of Jesus beginning his ministry, calling his disciples, and teaching his people about the Kingdom of God.  Through the stories Jesus tells and through the many miracles he performs, Jesus teaches those who follow the good news of what life is like in God's Kingdom.

Epiphany is growing time!  For Jesus, there were people to heal and feed, unjust boundaries to break, and parables to teach. What is God calling you to this Epiphany?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Try This: Epiphany

On a previous blog, Kate commented that she likes ideas that help her to bring the atrium home. I do too, and after reading her comment, I began searching (in my many books and blogs, and in my heart!) for some way to bring the season of Epiphany home this year.  After all, we have the wreath for Advent and the Nativity Scene for Christmas!

I decided to order this star shaped paper lantern with a light inside to hang in our living room during the season of Epiphany. On January 6th, after saying goodbye to the Christmas decorations, we can put up this special star in honor of the light that led the Magi to Jesus on the feast of Epiphany. I love the idea that it will remain throughout the season, until Lent begins, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world, and helping us to follow Jesus in the season of Epiphany.

Unfortunately I had this brainstorm at noon on January 6th and couldn't find the kind of star I wanted anywhere!  Until the one I've ordered arrives, we are using some paper stars I made as room decorations for my daughter this Christmas. These are easy to make and would be great to use for an Epiphany tradition as well. I learned how to make them on a beautiful blog called The Magic Onions.

On Epiphany, our family read Matthew 2:1-12, which tells about the Magi, and talked a bit about it.  Then we prayed the Collect for Epiphany from the Book of Common Prayer and hung the stars. It was simple but lovely!

I'm hoping to find a way to integrate symbols of all the seasons into our home this year.  As we travel through the Church year together, I'll be sure to share my ideas on the blog.  Is there something you could do to make the season of Epiphany special for your family?  How about hanging a star in the living room, putting a special book from the library on a coffee table, or lighting a pretty white candle at dinner each night?  What will you do?!

Want to learn a bit more about the Season of Epiphany?  Check back soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Christmas Celebration

Here are some photos from our Christmas Celebration with the Good Shepherd and True Vine children yesterday. This is a laid back morning - we listen to the infancy narratives together while the children act out the scenes.  Children wear simple costumes and repeat back words from the scripture.  It's a nice chance for us to enjoy the infancy narratives as a whole with the younger children, after the excitement of the holidays is past.

I am just getting back into the swing of things here and should have some new posts for you soon.  Keep checking back, or better yet, subscribe to the blog via email with the form on the sidebar.  In the meantime, enjoy the photos!

Mary and Joesph with baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
The Angel Gabriel appears to the shepherds and sheep.
A multitude of the heavenly host appear to the shepherds.  (I love this one!)
Everyone gathers around baby Jesus to offer him gifts of our own.

The Christmas feast!  Thanks for the goodies parents!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Merry Christmas!

There are plenty of trees on the front lawn waiting to be recycled, but Christmas isn't over yet!  The season of Christmas is twelve days long and ends Thursday (January 6th) when we celebrate Epiphany.  One of my favorite Epiphany traditions is the arrival of the Wise Men - on January 6th the Wise Men from our home nativity scene end their long journey around our house and finally reach the Christ child on the mantle.  Thursday would be a nice day to gather your family, light a candle, and read Matthew 2:1-12, the scriptural account of the Wise Men's visit with Jesus.

For now, here are a few photos from our marvelous Christmas Eve Pageant to remind you of the wonders of the Christmas season.  Enjoy!