The Hanging of the Greens
December 8, 2014
Epworthies gathered Saturday morning to participate in the traditional Hanging of the Greens event. After sharing coffee and pastries we gathered in the sanctuary for a brief liturgy that included the responsory lines:
Pastor: How shall we prepare this house for the coming of the King?
People: With branches of cedar, the tree of royalty.
Pastor: How shall we prepare this house for the coming of the eternal Christ?
People: With garlands of pine and fir, whose leaves are ever living, ever green.
Pastor: How shall we prepare this house for the coming of our Savior?
People: With wreaths of holly and ivy, telling of his passion, death, and resurrection.
Pastor: How shall we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Son of God?
People: By hearing again the words of the scriptures, foretelling the saving work of God.
Scripture and a prayer followed, then Pastor Thelander gave the charge: "You are now charged to decorate the church as an Act of worship." The people and minister proceeded to do so:
Since Medieval times evergreens have been hung in churches to symbolize eternal life in Christ and growth in the Spirit. We have followed this custom since the our first Advent as a church. The traditional date for Greening the Church is December 17, but we do it slightly earlier in order to have the church ready for our annual service of Advent Lessons and Carols, which will be next Sunday evening.
When the work was done we reassembled to pray:
"Lord God, who caused the light to shine in our hearts through the advent of your blessed Son; grant us grace, that as we've prepared this house of worship, so also we may prepare our hearts for your coming. . ."