Sunday, December 1 was the First Sunday in Advent, that is the first day of the new liturgical year that begins with this season announcing the birth of Christ. Since Episcopalians have a ritual for every occasion, the service began with the service of placing the Advent candles on the Advent wreath. Our lay leader, Joe Crisswell led this part of the service and four members of the congregation each placed one candle. There is a scripture reading, prayer and response for each candle and once the candles are placed, one is lit. Bishop Hartley noted in his message that this first candle is known as the prophecy candle as it calls us to the period of waiting before the birth of Christ and is sometimes known as the love candle. He also told us that Advent is another of the ancient Christian traditions observed in the Anglican churches, dating from the Council of Tours in 567 A.D., and is regarded as the beginning of the church year. The circle of the wreath symbolizes eternity.
Bishop Hartley based his sermon on the Old Testament reading for the day from Malachi 3 “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple…” In this passage Malachi is replying to those who were complaining that God did not favor them enough, but favored the wicked. For Christians, this messenger prophesied by Malachi is Jesus Christ and the season of Advent is the announcement of His coming. The passage ends with a warning to “Remember the law of my servant Moses…”
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