Now that we have a daughter, the question of what to do about Santa comes up. As Christians, we know that Christmas is all about Christ! The true meaning of Christmas has almost nothing to do with what Santa Claus has become today (a highly commercialized fictional character who travels with flying reindeer, fits through chimneys, and rewards children for being good).
The original Santa Claus was based on Saint Nicholas, who was an actual person who lived in the third century in the village of Patara, (now Demre, Turkey). Nicholas was born into a very wealthy family and was raised a devout Christian. When Nicholas was still very young, his parents died. He decided to obey Jesus’ words from Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me,” and so he used his entire inheritance to help the sick, needy and suffering. He was later made the bishop of Myra and became known for his generosity.
Individualism. It has ruined the church. We all understand as Christians that there is a need for the individual to come to faith, repent and believe in Christ Jesus as his personal Savior in order to be considered righteous in God’s eyes. We understand that we cannot rely on the faith of others to enter the gates of heaven. We must work out our individual salvation in fear in trembling. In this context the individual is important and we should focus on that. But is individualism consistent with Christianity?
The blood of Christ bought the Church (not an individual) (Eph. 5:25); all of us together (not individually) are the body of Christ; where two or three are (not one) (Matt. 18:20), there Christ is; Christ said we will be known by the love we have for one another, not for ourselves (John 13:35); Christ said the moral law is summarized in how we love God and one another, not how we love ourselves (Matt. 22:38-39). The whole Christian perspective is otherly, not individualistic!
Welcome to part 3 of How to Pray! If you’re interested in the background and reasons to read and pray every day using the Daily Office, check out Part 1. If you need the schedule and resource links for when and what to pray, check out Part 2.
This post is the detailed elaboration on Option 1 of the ‘Simple Plan’ with Morning, Evening and Night Prayer discussed generally in a previous post here.
In centuries past, it was easy to walk to your parish church and attend daily prayer services. People could pray and hear the scriptures daily. Today, with our busy schedules and churches many miles away, going to church every day just doesn’t seem possible. This places a heavier burden on individual families to be diligent in their commitment to prayer and scripture at home. I found this to be especially hard in non-denominational and baptist circles, where I was just told to read and pray as the spirit led. Or, pick a devotional among the hundreds of thousands out there. How do you go about picking one?
Let’s be real. It’s hard to pray and read every day if you don’t set up a routine. Even when you set up a routine, life happens and disruptions occur, and the temptation is to leave praying and reading for ‘when you have the time’ and truthfully, it’s easy for it to slip from your mind and then feel guilty on Sunday mornings when the sermon reminds us to pray and read scriptures every day. But left to our own, how do we do it? My solution is to make it a family routine based on the Anglican church’s “Daily Office.”
This post is the first of a series of three parts that include 1) the explanation of why to use the Daily Office to pray and read at home, 2) how to adapt the Daily Office for home use and 3) step-by-step instructions on how to use the Daily Prayer App for home family prayer.
Welcome to Tips & Tricks #1
CONSIDER HOME DECOR
I’m going to be coming out with weekly tips & tricks about how to make an Anglican home, so stay tuned!
Besides the outright Anglican things like the advent wreath I blogged about here before, there must be some ways to incorporate a representation of God into our daily lives. I was surfing a lovely Anglican Forum and found a mother asking for advice regarding how to bring her Anglican faith into her home. The excellent suggestions ensued, which I want to share with you!
Before I do, just a word on the purpose of these small additions to your home. These small things like colors and symbols do not take the place of our faith. They are also not empty symbols that become an act of legality. We live in a world of symbology: soldiers wear emblems, each country has a flag, each company has a logo! The emblems and flags themselves aren’t honored, but rather it’s the things they represent that are honored. The little things I’m going to suggest in creating an Anglican home are symbols of our faith to help remind us, bolster us, and encourage us toward that spiritual walk we each have with God through Christ His Son.
Before I was Anglican, I was Baptist, and the only time I’ve heard of the word “Liturgy” was at a nondenominational Christian conference seminar about the importance of liturgy. I was 16 years old and didn’t give a care to the word so I’ve forgotten everything he said about it.
After being led by my husband to consider Anglicanism, I had to learn the word! A short explanation from a previous post:
What is liturgy? What is Anglican liturgy? Liturgy is an orderly and structured form of church worship that consists of a combination of prayers, readings, songs, and sacraments. The Anglican liturgy is uniquely defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It specifically contains a 3-year schedule of prayers (where you sometimes stand and sometimes sit), readings from the Bible (at least one from the Old Testament, one of the Epistles, and one from the Gospels), and the sacrament (Communion). Each year is broken down into liturgical seasons where upon a different theme is focused. This sounds boring, you may be thinking. With centuries of knowledge and time dedicated to figuring out the best chorus of verses and prayers, the liturgy is quite exciting and helps focus the soul on what’s most important: Christ. Check out this article on “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy.”
I’ve attended church my entire life, and I feel like I’ve seen all type of churches – nondenominational, pentecostal, free, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic and Baptist. From my experience with people from each kind of church, it seemed like there were the ‘dead’ churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic) and there were the ‘alive’ churches (nondenominational, pentecostal, and free). So I came to the conclusion that the ‘dead’ churches were the ones with liturgy, so the aspect of liturgy must be why those Christians don’t seem to have a faith that is alive.
This is the first year that we decided to make our very own advent wreath. First, let’s get some questions out of the way.
- What is advent? Advent is the period of time in the church liturgical season where we await the coming of Christ in the flesh (Christmas). The services are hopeful and solemn, not super bombastic or celebratory as Christmas.
- What is liturgy? What is Anglican liturgy? Liturgy is an orderly and structured form of church worship that consists of a combination of prayers, readings, songs, and sacraments. The Anglican liturgy is uniquely defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It specifically contains a 3-year schedule of prayers (where you sometimes stand and sometimes sit), readings from the Bible (at least one from the Old Testament, one of the Epistles, and one from the Gospels), and the sacrament (Communion). Each year is broken down into liturgical seasons where upon a different theme is focused. This sounds boring, you may be thinking. With centuries of knowledge and time dedicated to figuring out the best chorus of verses and prayers, the liturgy is quite exciting and helps focus the soul on what’s most important: Christ. Check out this article on “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy.”
- What is an advent wreath? An advent wreath is a wreath (like the branches twisted into a circle that people often hang on their doors) with five candles. There are three purple candles (representing Hope, Love and Peace), one pink candle (Joy), and one white candle in the center that represents Christ. The candles also represent each week of advent, so Week 1 is Hope, Week 2 is Love, Week 3 is Joy (Pink), Week 4 is Joy and Christmas Day is Christ (White). For more info on advent wreaths, click here.
- What’s the purpose of the advent wreath? It is a tool to help us think on each weekly theme as the advent of Christ draws near. Each element of the wreath has symbolic meaning. We must remember to repent from our sins and work toward a holy life to prepare for Christ.
- What happens when you light each candle? We choose to conduct a small home prayer ‘service’ that includes scripture readings, some singing, and prayers. Click on the document “Advent Wreath Prayers” for a PDF example of what we pray.