Lent and Easter
At St. Andrew Presbyterian Church we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ through our worship services that are offered beginning with Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross. We begin our time of Lent at St. Andrew with a short service in preparation for observing our commitment to our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Lenten season developed as part of the historical Christian calendar. The purpose is to open our hearts to God's refining grace as we anticipate Holy Week. Lent traditionally lasts forty days, modeled after Christ's forty day fast in the desert, and ends on Good Friday. At St. Andrew’s, Lent officially begins with a reminder of our mortality on Ash Wednesday. Like Advent, the official color for Lent is purple. Purple is the color of repentance for sins and also symbolizes the state of our souls outside the light of Christ.
The 40 days are set aside to really examine areas of recurring sin in our lives that prevent us from being conformed to God's Will. But ultimately, the purpose of Lent does not stop at sadness and despair - it points us to the hope of the Resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried (Rev. 21:3).
A good way to start an examination of conscience is by praying Psalm 139, verse
23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Thank God for His forgiveness, and ask Him for the grace to change.
Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11). As Jesus entered the holy city, He neared the culmination of a long journey toward Golgotha. He had come to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and now was the time—this was the place—to secure that salvation. Palm Sunday marked the start of what is often called “Passion Week,” the final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Palm Sunday was the “beginning of the end” of Jesus’ work on earth.
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, believed to be the day when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with His disciples. Most notably, that Passover meal was when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in an extraordinary display of humility. He then commanded them to do the same for each other. Christ's "mandate" is commemorated on Maundy Thursday---"maundy" being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means "command." It was on the Thursday of Christ's final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said these words to his disciples:
For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).
On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
The New Testament states that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. ... Any person who chooses to follow Jesus receives "a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead".
Season of Advent and Christmas
What is Advent? Derived from the Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival” Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It’s the season when we look back to Christ’s first coming, as a baby born in Bethlehem, and look forward to his second coming when he will return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.
Beginning with four weeks before Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of a new Christian year. Just as we sometimes decorate our homes, we decorate our church. We use hand made Crismons, (ornaments designed especially with religious symbols), garlands, candles, lights and nativity scenes throughout the building. We begin this time of waiting with an event called, “Hanging of the Greens.”
During the season of Advent, each Sunday is dedicated to a family or members reading a scripture related to the coming of Christ. A traditional Advent wreath is set up in the front of the sanctuary which is adorned with fresh flowers and candles symbolizing each of the weeks associated with the event. The lighted candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. The fifth and last candle which is white is known as the Christ Candle. It is lit Christmas Eve during our 5:00 and midnight Eve services.
Our candlelit Christmas Eve services have become a favorite the service is ended while we process outside, carrying our lit candles singing, “Silent Night”.
During the Advent Season, much attention is given to our Angel Tree project, fellowship opportunities, Joy Gift offering, Christmas caroling in anticipation of the magnitude of the arrival of Jesus Christ. Opportunities are also given to members to purchase poinsettias in memory or honor of loved ones. The beautiful red and white flowers adorn the sanctuary as a reminder of the love God has given us.
Pentecost Sunday is a day of celebration of the churches birthday. It is this day that the dove descended and the flames appeared above the disciples heads and all of the new believers could understand the different languages. We like to celebrate the birthday of the church by wearing red, decorating the church giving thanks to a God who is so forgiving and loving and gave us His only son as a sacrifice for our sins.
He is risen indeed!
Bread broken together
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