Thursday, 26 August 2021

Marsden Road Uniting - Marsden Missive - September October November 2021

                                       


             September, October and November 2021

Marsden Missive

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Retirement

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with sadness that Wendy and I announce a definite date for my Retirement as your Minister of the Word at Marsden Road Uniting and our move back to our home in Adelaide, South Australia. I have written to your Church Council, the Presbytery and the Synod and informed them that our last Sunday with the Congregation will be the 21st of November 2021, the Feast of Christ the King. It seemed appropriate to say farewell on the last Sunday of the Churches Calendar year and allow a new chapter in the Congregations life to begin on Advent Sunday.

We have valued our time with you, and it has been a privilege to serve the people of God in this place. Sadly, though, the events of the last couple of years in regard to Covid-19 and our own health has hastened our decision for me to retire and for Wendy to move to part-time casual work in Adelaide.

Rev John and Wendy

Future Thinking for Congregations, from the Presbytery and the Synod of NSW and the ACT.

 Dear Friends and Family of Marsden Road,

At their meeting on 10 April 2021, the Synod of NSW and ACT approved a document called “Future Directions for the People of God on the Way.” The document captures the heart of the Future Directions proposal and summarises the key elements of the Synod strategy. While there remains further work to be done, this is the key document that will guide the review and redevelopment of Synod priorities and existing workplans.

The Synod Secretary has commended the document as a valuable guide in the discernment of missional priorities within all of our presbyteries, noting that the Future Directions: Synod Resourcing Framework will have been considered by the Synod of 2021 in the June and August sessions.

As some of you may be aware, the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery (SCCP) has had discussions on working through the next stage of this for those at the local level of the congregation. One of the initiatives by SCCP has been instituting a Church Planting Course that seeks to grow the Church. The first course was run last year and there are plans for running the course again this year from around the 11th of October through until the end of November. A common theme for all teams able to participate is the desire to build a church that would be enmeshed in the community and that would be missed if it wasn’t there.

I am also reminded that our SCCP Mission Statement is: “A Catalyst For Growing Generous, Inclusive and Courageous Churches.” 

So, this raises questions for our congregation especially as we consider our relationship to our local community, our mission field. This community, mission field is the place in which our centre of worship is situated. It is the place where we practice our faith. These questions are drawn from reflections about how we are working in our mission field. It is whether we as disciples of Jesus in the Marsden Road part of the wider Uniting Church are viable as a congregation. It is whether we can make and support disciples in this part of God’s kingdom. Firstly, though we need to ask whether we are a pilgrim people on the way to God’s promised end and how we might provide for the needs of our community as Jesus calls us to? 

From the Synod Report:

In our rapidly changing, diverse and unequal world, our communities need the Uniting Church to:

• Be those ‘fellowships of reconciliation’ imagined by the Basis of Union, so that Jesus Christ may work and

bear witness among us.

• Follow Jesus into the public square and be a prophetic voice for the sake of the Gospel, for our witness is

distinctive and requires faithful courage.

• Provide community services that are an active expression of our faith, and which address social need.

• Embrace the diversity of the communities in which we worship and serve.

• Welcome renewal, be contemporary communities, and – God willing – grow our witness to the Gospel. 

However, when we look at our situation at Marsden Road, we can see some problems in being part of this programme. The number of members able to carry out our call to make and support disciples is declining and has been declining for the last twenty years or so. Sadly, on current trends this decline is expected to continue. Although we do have a very faithful and committed membership, those we have are much older than they used to be which may hasten a further decline in numbers. The community within which we now find ourselves living has changed drastically in the last twenty years. This means that the demographics have changed. Alongside this, we at Marsden Road, are sited in the middle of four other Uniting Church Congregations which are between five- and ten-minutes’ drive away. All four of these congregations have a mission field that overlaps ours. They also draw on the same community that we do from which to make new disciples. 

Looking at these factors, the Congregation at Marsden Road needs to be doing some soul searching, especially about our role in the community we are called by God to serve. We need to deal in the realities present right here and now and not ignore the hard truths of our situation. 

I am reminded that a viable church is one that has sufficient resources (financial and human) to maintain its current level of programming, staffing, and building maintenance without depleting financial resources or the spiritual energy of the leadership. This is a good definition to have in front of us as we look carefully and prayerfully where we fit in the future mission of the Uniting Church in this place. Hopefully, our recent Life and Witness consultation might have given us not only time for our own discussions and explorations but also helped us look at our own future mission honestly and openly. 

The tenor and progress of our conversations after our Life and Witness consultation will guide the options that we choose to follow to further the mission work of the congregation. 

So, what things do we need to be looking at?

·       We need firstly to see if there are any models to enable us to meet our goal of mission.

·       Secondly, we need to be honest about whether we have the personnel with the time and energy to carry out any mission model decided upon.

·       Thirdly, will the mission be able to be carried out using our current facilities and financial resources.

·       Fourthly, if we find that we do not have the personnel, resources or facilities to continue the mission to our community, are we prepared to make the necessary changes that may be painful. It may mean letting go of some of our cherished ways and our cherished place. 

Please consider some of the following questions and feed back to your Church Council Members or the Congregational Council Chairperson your thoughts.  

·       Do you have other ideas that would be suitable for our situation, considering the need for good stewardship of our limited resources?

·       Do you have any suggestions for a different model or models that can be assessed for use in our situation?

·       Do you want to take part in change that would help us live out our faith in the gospel of love that we have been called to live out in this place?

·       Do we want to remain as a worshipping community that will eventually fade away without renewal? 

I also believe we need to accept that it is time for us to let go of preconceived assumptions about our destination and to invite God into our conversation. This is important as we require the collective effort of all of God’s people. There is no going back to the past we once knew. Yes, this congregation has a wonderful faithful history, and it has well passed the average life of a congregation of 70-80 years, but we must look forward and look forward with prayer seeking Gods guidance. 

As a congregation we have much to give thanks for. The almost 200 years of faithful service and church life of our forebears that has stood us in good stead and been the base from which we have been enabled to go out and live a faithful life that our God has called us to. We also need to recognise that our church was built for a particular time, place, and set of circumstances that no longer exist. The decline we are seeing now in the life of institutional churches in many parts of the western world is part of the greater story of how God keeps nudging us out of our comfort zones and on to that new and different country. It is our task to keep moving forward with trust, even when we are not sure where we are or where we are going. 

We need to frame the conversations we been, having as true discernment of the best way God wishes us to move forward in the ministry and mission that our God has called us to. If the questions being discussed and aired are canvassed by all in the whole congregation it will help us find our direction to carry out our individual calls. Any discussions will help those who are willing to stay together, to focus on pursuing a common mission, and not just the institution’s survival. 

Remember that the resurrection story describes a sacred community in crisis closing its church and then making Christ’s love present to the wider community by moving its spiritual home to a new site, new context or new format for a new use.


Memories of Previous Years.

(Written by Ron Burwood).


 Not so very long ago I was sitting in our Church and looking around the inside of our building and the people sitting in the pews. For some reason my mind went back to when I was a child and realised there was a huge difference between back then and now. I will explore some of these things in depth later in the article. I am sure that many of you will have similar memories of the past era. John just to let you know these following thoughts came to me well after the service and not during it!!! 

As I mentioned in my earlier article about my Methodist Roots in the Marsden Missive a couple of years ago, I grew up in Wentworthville and attended the Methodist Church there. This was a primitive weatherboard building which had been the Auburn Methodist Church. It was dismantled and re-erected at “Wenty” in 1920, and late last year its congregation celebrated its 100 years anniversary. 

That building held so many memories for many people who attended there from back then and you can see from the following photo of it taken in December 1921 just a year after its re-erection it was a very basic building but loved by all those attending there. This photo was taken from the block of land where the parsonage was erected in 1936.

754 My parents were married there on 21st March 1936, and I came along about 12 months later and was baptised in this Church on 18th April 1937 aged at 7 weeks. This commenced my long connection there until Pamela and I moved to Carlingford in 1963. 

The Church services were held in the front room of the Church and at the back there was another small room which had a very small kitchen. This room was also used for Sunday School Kindergarten, Christian Endeavour and Order of Knights meetings. It had two doorways into the Church one of which was usually used by the minister prior to the service as well as the choir, the members of which would sit on the stage in the front of the worshippers. 

Our family life on Sundays revolved around the Church as did the lives of many others. Most of Sunday was spent in the Church’s precincts at the various services and gathering as can be seen from the following activities held there on each Sunday. 

10.00 a.m. Christian Endeavour

11.00 a.m. Morning Church Service

  2.30 p.m. Sunday School

  6.45 p.m. Hymn sing song

  7.15 p.m. Evening Church Service 

Naturally families would return home for a quick lunch and then do the same for dinner except on the occasions when an evening tea would be held at the Church. This was a normal routine for many families as back then more folk attended Church. 

Back to my ideas that started me off on this story, most of which occurred to me well after the service in which I first thought about the differences. On that Sunday looking around our Church, those in attendance everyone was dressed in casual attire without the formality of the past. In the forties all of the ladies would wear their “Sunday best” dresses – no slacks or such. They would all have their lovely hats on and wore gloves and carried their best hand bag and often had a spray of flowers on their dresses. 

The men would always wear their three-piece suits and all with ties. Most would also have on their best hat which would be removed from their head as soon as they walked through the door of the Church and placed either on or under the pew where they sat. As soon as they left the Church their hats would go back onto their heads. 

The children also dressed in very much the same manner. I have a photo from 1953 of my siblings and myself and we were all dressed very much as above. My sister was 14 at the time and she had the hat and gloves and even my youngest brother at 6 years had on his suit, probably handed down. 

In addition to our Sunday activities many weeknights were taken up with other activities. One night, I think Thursdays, was for choir practice where the members would spend a couple of hours practising items for the coming Sunday. On a Tuesday night once a month the meetings for the Order of Knights and the Girls Comrades were held and they would often mingle together after the meetings finished. During the week days there were other ladies’ groups having their meetings. 

All in all, it was a very close-knit group. Many families had another Church family with whom they were very close and so this was really a combined family. 

Another difference came to mind in that whilst we take for granted our microphone and loudspeaker, our electronic computerised organ, hymns on the screen and our air conditioning system or back a few years the pew seat heat warmers none of these were evident back then and we survived with great services. Our hymn singing was enjoyed by all who all sang with gusto. This was much like our Marsden Road Congregation, but the old Wenty Methodist Church did not have the acoustics that we have here. However, many visitors who came to our services would comment on the great singing of our congregation much like the comments we sometimes get here. I can only say that this must be attributed to our Methodist background as that faith was much about the singing of hymns. 

Compared to Marsden Road Church the inside of the old Church was very stark as can be seen from the following photo. This is the only photo I have of the inside of the Church was when it was decorated for my parents’ wedding in 1936 but it never changed during the period to which I am covering.

 

Of course, the decorations and horseshoes on the pews as well as the wedding arch were only evident for weddings. However, on Sundays the ladies always had plenty of flowers around the front of the Church the same as Marsden Road. The minister’s pulpit was on the left-hand side next to the window and in front of this was the piano. On the right-hand side was the organ which was a pedal organ and was hard work for the organist. I know that when my mother played, she was rather tired after the service. Behind the railing in place for the wedding, was the stage and at the back of the stage one can see an arch which had the words "Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness" in gold lettering painted on it. 

I must direct your attention to the pews which if you look carefully, you will note that they are basically a piece of timber mounted on a frame, no cushions, and the backs of them are another piece of timber, a rail of about 15 x 4 cms on metal rods so that they could be moved back and forth, more on the pews later. So, a huge difference!! 

On Sunday afternoons our Kindergarten Sunday School had its classes in the back room with little tables and chairs. The Senior Sunday School would use the Church itself and use the pews for seating but no tables. When it came time for lessons the youngsters would sit on the pews after swinging across the backs of every second one of them so that the class could sit on these facing each other. Most of the children would bring their own Bible to Sunday School. 

For two Sundays each year the Sunday School Anniversary would be held in the Church. On the Friday night and Saturday before this the menfolk would come to the Church erect tiers of seating for the youngsters to sit on for the services. This seating consisted of a heavy wooden frame and seats unlike the easier to erect metal ones we had at Marsden Road, so it was hard work. Then of course afterwards it had to be pulled apart and stored away until next year. 

Another memory comes back about the Remembrance Day Service held each year by the combined Churches on the closest Sunday to the 11th of November. The Service Personnel would have a march along the streets of Wenty ending up at the local theatre “The Regent” where the service was held. Congregations of the various Churches would attend as did the ministers who all took part in the service. The theatre was always packed! All very impressive for us when we were young. 

Of course, we also had our Sunday School picnics each year in much the same way as our Marsden Road Church did many years ago. There were a number of places where these were held but the kids could not wait to get there to get a cream bun as soon as we arrived. Then we held the usual races and other activities. The menfolk usually wore their suits! 

Back then the senior people of the congregation usually addressed each other as Mr. or Mrs. and rarely were Christian names used. After we were married Pamela and I joined the Couples Club and there the rule was that all members were addressed by their Christian names. I found this very difficult, and it took some time to get used to using Christian names for those I had always called Mr. or Mrs. 

For Church Socials or maybe parties the Church would be used, and this involved moving all the very heavy pews to around the walls of the Church and then replaced after the function was over. Never any dancing as back then it was banned by the Methodists so often some of the young people would go across the road to the Presbyterian Church where dances were held. 

One other memory of those old days was from when I was 10 years old and in 5th class at school. The minister of our Church at that time was the Rev R. S. Walker and he was very much liked and respected. Each week he would take the scripture class at Wentworthville Public School and the kids enjoyed having him. He had a good rapport with them and during 1947 he asked the kids from the school group to learn Psalm 121 which as you will know starts with “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help”. Then if a student felt that he or she was ready Rev. Walker would ask them to recite the psalm. If any of the students did this successfully, he would present them with a pocket size New Testament and on the front page he inscribed their name “with best wishes from your friend R. S. Walker” and the date. On the inside front cover, he wrote “Psalm 121” and inside the back cover “G. I. L.” – God is Love. If Rev. Walker met one of the youngsters anywhere, he would say “121” and to which the child would reply “G. I. L.”. I still have mine after 74 years and Psalm 121 is probably my favourite psalm. I do not think that anything like this would take place today. 

After the new Wentworthville Methodist Church was built in 1956 the old Church building was used as its hall until a new one was built some years later. Now it has been used by a variety of groups and currently is used by a group called “Playtime Friends” on three days a week catering for children under school age, this started as a group for 8 children of Church families in 1988 and has been running since under the guidance of many Church folk. These days there are children attending from outside of the church and some of their mothers are helpers as well. 

It is amazing what memories one little thought can bring back and this shows that there was so much difference in the eras. I am sure that many of you will have similar thoughts as mine.

Humour








SERVICES for September 2021, October 2021,

November 2021, 

Date

Sunday

Hebrew Scripture

Epistle

Gospel

Sep 06

Pent 14

Ex 12:1-14

Rom 13:8-14

Mt 18:15-20

Sep 13

Pent 15

Ex 14:19-31

Rom 14:1-12

Mt 18:21-35

Sep 20

Pent 16

Ex 16:2-15

Phil 1:21-30

Mt 20:1-16

Sep 27

Pent 17

Ex 17:1-7

Phil 2:1-13

Mt 21:23-32

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 04

Pent 18

Ex 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Phil 3:4b-14

Mt 21:33-46

Oct 11

Pent 19

Ex 32:1-14

Phil 4:1-9

Mt 22:1-14

Oct 18

Saint Luke

Si 38:1-4,6-10,12-14

2 Tim 4:5-13

Lk 4:14-22

Oct 25

Pent 21

Dt 34:1-12

1 Thess 2:1-8

Mt 22:34-46

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 01

All Saints

Rev 7:9-17

1 Jn 3:1-3

Mt 5:1-12

Nov 08

Pent 23

Jos 24:1-3a, 14-25

1 Thess 4:13-18

Mt 25:1-13

Nov 15

Pent 24

Judges 4:1-7

1 Thess 5:1-11

Mt 25:14-30

Nov 21

Xt the King

Eze 34:11-16, 20-24

Eph 1:15-23

Mt 25:31-46

Nov 29

Advent Year B

Is 64.1-9

1 Cor 1:1-9

Mk 13:24-37

 

 

 

 

 

 Worship will be by Zoom On-line, Website, Facebook, until the UCA Synod of NSW and ACT under Government and Health guidance decide that it is safe for us to use and worship in the Church again.

 Humour


UPCOMING EVENTS

 

September 2021


2     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

       Communion - Zoom

7     ACOMP Executive Meeting

       7.30pm MRUC Elders Meeting

9     12.30pm PRC Meeting

12   9.30am Pentecost 16 Sunday Service - Zoom

15   10am PYPP Team Meeting

16   10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

17   9.30am Moderator's Day Of Refreshment: Pittwater

19   9.30am Pentecost 17 Sunday Service - Zoom

20   MRUC Equinox Outing tbc.

21   SCCP Clergy Retreat starts with venue 

       Kincumber/Zoom

       10am ACOMP Full Meeting

23   SCCP Clergy Retreat finishes

       SCCP Business Committee Meeting

23   7.30am Local Ministers Breakfast Meeting - Zoom

26   9.30am Pentecost 18 Sunday Service - Zoom 

October 2021

3     9.30am Pentecost 19 Service Holy Communion – Zoom

5     ACOMP Executive Meeting

       SCCP Standing Committee Meeting

7     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

10   9.30am Pentecost 20 Sunday Service – Zoom tbc

11   New Growth intensive - Church Planting Course SCCP:

       Planning

14   12.30pm PRC Meeting 

17   9.30am Pentecost 21 Sunday Service – Guest Preacher

18   Saint Luke’s Day

       New Growth intensive- Church Planting Course SCCP:

       Growing

19   10am ACOMP Full Meeting

20   10am PYPP Team Meeting

21   10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

       SCCP Business Committee Meeting

22   7.30am Local Ministers Meeting (Zoom)

24   9.30am Pentecost 22 Sunday Service – Guest Preacher          

       from Parramatta Mission

       Frontier Services BBQ after Service

25   Church Planting Course SCCP: Going

28   7.30am Local Ministers Breakfast Meeting

31   9.30am Pentecost 23 Sunday Service      

November 2021

1     All Saints Day

       PRC Agenda Meeting

Church Planting Course SCCP: Resourcing

2     ACOMP Executive Meeting

       4.15pm SCCP Standing Committee Meeting

4     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

7     9.30am All Saints Sunday Service Holy  

       Communion

11   12.30pm PRC Meeting 

14   9.30am Pentecost 25 Sunday Service

15   Church Planting Course SCCP: Leading

16   10am ACOMP Full Meeting

17   10am PYPP Team Meeting

       SCC Presbytery meeting

18   10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness  

       Executive Meeting

       SCCP Business Committee Meeting

21   9.30am Christ the King Sunday Service

       Last Sunday of rev John with Marsden Road Congregation

22   Church Planting Course SCCP: Establishing

28   9.30am Advent Sunday Service

29   PRC Agenda Meeting 

   Church Planting Course SCCP: Presenting



NOTES FROM COUNCIL and COMMITTEES 

Church Council 

Face-to-Face Worship

With the current Lock Down situation throughout Greater Sydney it was agreed that face-to-face worship does not look a possibility until at least the end of October and maybe even Christmas. We will continue with Zoom meeting and Worship for the foreseeable future. 

Parramatta Mission

It is planned that we will have Davyn from Parramatta join us for worship on the Sunday of October 24th, 2021 and share further on the work of the mission. This will enable us to hear more of the work of the Mission and ways in which we can support them, especially with the added problem of Covid Lock Down and Christmas coming up. 

Life and Witness Consultation

The Life and Witness Consultation continues, and a report will be done soon by the Consultants and sent to us and the Presbytery people that deal with such things. Life and Witness is something that every congregation goes through every five years. 

Mission Statement

A revision of this by Elders has not yet occurred owing to time constraints.  It is anticipated this will occur at the next meeting. 

National Church Life Survey

This is to occur during October/November this year.  After discussion it was agreed, as copies of the survey need to be ordered, that forty (40) should be available online and twenty (20) on paper. 

Future Covid Support

The Treasurer reported that a Presbytery Zoom meeting was scheduled for 20th August, for treasurers to discuss qualifying for Federal Governments Covid grants. Also, an email has been received via Presbytery from Synod concerning these NSW Government financial assistance offerings. At present the Treasurer believes we do not qualify but we will know more after the Zoom meeting. 

Finance Position 

During Covid-19 last year Marsden Road Congregation survived financially with Government grants of $31,900 but these supports ceased in Jan 2021. We have had deficits for the last five months. This trend is of some concern as it will begin to affect what we are able to do missionally over the coming months.  Please consider prayerfully whether you are able to help Marsden Road bridge that gap in our giving versus ministry and mission costs which goes to deciding our viability.


Humour 

A kindergarten teacher was walking around observing her classroom of children while they were drawing pictures. As she got to one girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."
Without looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID 

Christian Community Aid (CCA) provides a diverse range of support services to people living, working and studying in the Ryde, Parramatta and Hornsby Local Government Areas.
 

Their vision is to engage with the community to enable better


lives. For 50 years they have been working to provide personalised, timely and innovative support that addresses the existing and emerging needs of people. CCA aims to develop resources and capacity that will contribute to strong, inclusive and resilient communities. 

Thank you to all who support this very worthy cause including bringing to Marsden Road Church non-perishable food items. Please remember that even the smallest contribution helps.

Humour 


CONGREGATION

 Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

You are Welcome to join us at Marsden Road Uniting!  We gather to worship together at 9.30am every Sunday morning. We hope that you will experience the presence of God in this place and among the people of God here. All are welcome.

CONGREGATION CONTACTS

Email Address:  info@marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 


Answer To Children’s Puzzle.

Parramatta Mission Update amid COVID-19

As a church that provides hospitality, community and


clinical services, Parramatta Mission are at the forefront of supporting individuals, families and communities who are disadvantaged, vulnerable & doing it tough.

During this difficult time of COVID-19 Parramatta Mission continues to assist those in need. 

On the frontline, Meals Plus is operating as an essential service. In fact, our work here has never been more vital as more people in the community face increased hardship.

Our prayers for our services and the staff who are on the frontline facing the impact of Covid-19 would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to contribute to their work at this time, please visit www.parramattamission.org.au/donate   

Humour 

 A Sunday school teacher asked the children just before she dismissed them to go to church, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" 

Annie replied, "Because people are sleeping" 

Advent Reflection

Advent Starts 28 November 2021 

"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

"God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening for your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you." ~ Matthew Kelly 

What Is Advent? History & Meaning 

For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent. 

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, and his first miracle at Cana. 

During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas. 

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.

Advent Wreath and Candles


The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays. 

Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red colour points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. 

Families begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday. 

The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. The four candles traditionally represent hope, faith, joy, and peace. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is rose coloured. Sometimes all the candles are red; in other traditions, all four candles are blue or white. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Advent and Christian Life

While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated, and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming that Karl Barth penned these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. 

Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.



Marsden Road Uniting - Marsden Missive - September October November 2021

                                                               September, October and November 2021 Marsden Missive Marsden Road Uniting...