The story of the birth of Our Lord centres around Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem as part of a census, but they could find no place to stay. Because there was no room in the inn, the baby Jesus is born in a stable and placed in a manger. His humble birth is celebrated by choirs of angels and shepherds. The Nativity scene is well known and celebrates the birth which was witnessed by shepherds and their flock in the stable.
Later, and celebrated on January 6th, the Epiphany of the Lord, 3 kings (Magi) who had visited Herod and were told of the birth, followed the path of a bright new star and arrived at the most ordinary of places for a new king to be born. The baby Jesus was presented with precious gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh by the mysterious Magi.
The 3 kings never returned to Herod with their news and instead made their way home directly back to their own country.
The season of Advent is the period leading up to the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ which is celebrated on 25th December each year. Typically, the celebration begins with midnight Mass on the 24th when hymns and Carols are sung to usher in Christmas day.
Advent begins with the 1st Sunday of Advent and it is a season of penance and prayer in preparation for Christmas. Saint Paul urges us to prepare for the coming of the Son of God in the flesh. Each week a picture or symbol is added to the Jesse Tree and each week a new Advent candle will be lit at Mass.
In Advent Week 1 we add the following symbols and who or what each symbol represents is shown alongside.
|Adam & Eve
Ark & Dove
|Abraham & Isaac
Dagger & fig. of Abraham
In Week 2 of Advent, we add:
Tablet inscribed with the 10 commandments
In Week 3 of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, we add:
In Week 4 of Advent, we add:
|Hammer and Saw
|A writing tablet and pen
As well as the adornment of the Jesse tree, during Advent we light a candle on each Sunday before Christmas. Each week, the candles have a different meaning, and they are:
Week 1 - Candle of Hope
Week 2 - Candle of Peace
Week 3 - Candle of Joy
Week 4 - Candle of Love
They represent the virtues that Our Lord Jesus brought to the world.
Lord, the sight of the guiding star,
brought hope, courage and joy
to those who had journeyed to find you. When our journey seems long,
when hope seems far away,
when our courage is failing
fill us with faith and trust;
shine your light on our fears,
lift our hearts with your joy.
Help us to recognise you
in our brothers and sisters
throughout the world;
show us how we can work together
so that we may all come to share in the life promised to us by Jesus,
the Saviour of us all.
At St. Peter and St. Michael, we are fortunate to be able to show examples of both Christmas time (tree and gifts) and the Nativity (Crib) to make our church festive and bright at a time which is dominated by family, friends, love and reflection.