Special Worship Services and Seasons of the Church Year
Special Worship Services
There are two special worship services that we look forward to each year. The first one takes place in August or September with the Blessing of the Backpacks and the Collection of School Supplies at the beginning of the new school year. The second one takes place in November with the Blessing of the Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes.
Blessing of the Backpacks
With each school year comes the excitement and anticipation of a new beginning, a new journey, a new chapter. The Blessing of the Backpacks takes place during a regular worship service. It reinforces the connection between the adults and children in the congregation.
Collection of School Supplies
The collection of school supplies takes place in the weeks before the Blessing of the Backpacks Service. Our congregation has been very generous with their gifts. The supplies are donated to our local elementary school, Central Elementary, and are blessed at the Blessing of the Backpacks worship service.
Blessing of the Shoe Boxes
Operation Christmas Child (OCC) was created in 1990 by Dave Cooke and his wife Gill for children in Romania. Each November thousands of churches, groups and individual donors prepare and collect shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items, and other small gifts.
The United Methodist Women at Mount Zion sponsor this mission event and encourage the congregation to participate. The Blessing of the OCC shoe-boxes takes place during a worship service in November.
The Advent Season
The Advent Candles
The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world. The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.
The Hanging of the Greens
The Hanging of the Greens is a service of preparation for Christ’s coming, which includes hanging greenery traditionally associated with everlasting life. Greens such as cedar for royalty, fir and pine boughs for everlasting life, holly symbolizing Jesus’ death, and ivy representing the resurrections are used.
A Chrismon Tree is decorated at Mount Zion on the first Sunday of Advent after the Hanging of the Greens.
The Chrismon Tree
Chrismons are ornaments made from Christian symbols. The word Chrismons is a contraction for ‘Christ monograms. The congregation participates by each person placing a Chrismon on the tree. Our children especially enjoying this part of the worship service.
Holy Communion Candlelight
The sanctuary at Mount Zion is especially beautiful during the Advent Season and the beauty of the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is the culmination of the Advent Season. The service consists of readings, hymns, Holy Communion, and then the lighting of the candles.
There is nothing more beautiful than the darkened sanctuary with a single candle glowing. One by one, the congregants light their own candle, one bright wick igniting another. The brightness of hundreds of candles fills the sanctuary for a few moments until we carry our light into the world.
The Seasons of Lent and Easter
Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter (excluding Sundays), beginning on Ash Wednesdayand ending at sundown on Holy Saturday, the evening before Easter. During Lent, we enter into a season of preparation, self-reflection and repentance when we seek to literally turn around and realign our lives and focus toward God. It is a time to give up things as well as take on new life-giving practices, helping us rid ourselves of distractions and our own selfish desires. By doing so, we seek to live and love as more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. [Credit: www.umc.org]
The Easter Season, also known as Eastertide or the Great Fifty Days, begins on Easter Day. Easter for Christians is not just one day, but rather a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of new Christians. Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. Its the season when we remember our baptisms and how through this sacrament we are, according to the liturgy, incorporated into Christs mighty acts of salvation. As Easter people, we also celebrate and ponder the birth of the Church and gifts of the Spirit (Pentecost), and how we are to live as faithful disciples of Christ. [Credit: www.umc.org]
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.
Good Friday Tenebrae
The word “tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness.” The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the events of that week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial.
Easter Sunday Eastertide
The Easter Season, also known as Eastertide or The Great Fifty Days, begins on Easter and ends on Pentecost. Focusing on Christ’s resurrection and ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost), Eastertide is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. We celebrate the good news that in Christs death and resurrection we, and all creation, are continually being made new by Gods love and saving grace.