Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Advent Wreath

Last Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, Basil's Sunday School class made Advent wreaths.  Or, at least, started making Advent wreaths.  Today, Athanasia and the boys completed it with greenery from redwood, juniper, holly, pine, and orange trees.  I brought six candles home from church to put in the wreath.

Tonight as we shall for all six Sundays leading up to Christmas, we sung a little service at home.  

With all of us standing around the table, with the Advent wreath on the table, Basil Wenceslas lit the first candle. We faced the Icon and sang O Heavenly King, as Orthodox always do before lessons.

Then, sitting, I reminded the boys about our ancestors' expulsion from the garden and how they lost true wisdom and knowledge of God.  But I also told them that God was not content for us to have our minds darkened, and he promised to send a redeemer, the Messiah.  I read them the promise in Genesis 3:15, and explained that God repeated the promise, and even made a people, Israel, whose job it was, in part, to keep knowledge of that promise alive.  And we talked about how sometimes Israel didn't do a very good job and God sent prophets to remind them, and that lead us into Anselm Samuel reading the prophecy of Isaiah  

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORDAnd shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.
And we talked about how Christ means anointed or chrismated, and that Jesus is called Christ, which in Hebrew is Messiah, because he is anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Wisdom resides in him, and that with his wisdom he lifts the darkness from our minds and teaches us to be wise, not like our ancestors who gave up wisdom, that is fellowship with God for mere knowledge of good and evil, but wisdom born out of fear of God.

Then Athanasia prayed this English translation of the first O-Antiphon...
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, 
reaching from one end to the other mightily, 
and sweetly ordering all things: 
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Then we all sang this verse from O Come O Come Emanuel

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

And then Basil Wenceslas blew out the candle until next Saturday night when he will light two.


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Lovely !
Matt, do you follow a specific written outline for your home Advent services, or do you just extemporise?
I'd love to do this.

Matt said...

This is the first year we've had an advent wreath. I was introduced to the O Antiphons a few years ago and have often thought about how an Orthodox Christian might employ them in worship. When I saw Basil's Advent Wreath it just seemed to come together. This is a way to help the boys understand why Jesus came, what he did for us. So, is it extemporaneous? Almost. I wrote it out just a few minutes before we prayed and sang.

I anticipate us doing one of the O-Antiphons each Saturday night of Advent, and that the service will follow the pattern laid down in this first service.

Huw Raphael said...

I know that some GOA parishes actually use a wreath with 6 candles in it.

I do like this home devotional use, it's very East/West!

You've crossed the streams :)

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