Hanging of the Greens Service

The Hanging of the Greens service provided here is an alternative to "Hanging of the Greens" in The United Methodist Book of Worship, 258-260. Planners may want to incorporate parts of that service into this one, depending on the context and the elements of "greening" intended. In a time when people are crying out for liturgy as symbols deeply lived, this can be a multisensory communal event.

The service as provided here aims at participation of many hands, including children. Careful planning and preparation will allow for full participation of all present. The service assumes either that, at a time prior to the service, the community gathers to first prepare these decorations, or that a servant group has prepared them for the gathered community to hang. Depending on the space and how elaborate the decoration will be, some things, such as placement of lights, the tree in the stand, and so forth, may need to be done ahead of time.

Several persons may take the leader's and reader's parts. The listing of hymns and songs are options and in most cases only one of the set would be sung. The abbreviations UMH and TFWS stand for The United Methodist Hymnal and The Faith We Sing, respectively.

This service may be used as a specially scheduled service early in Advent or as part of a regularly scheduled worship service. When the service is to be part of a regularly scheduled Lord's Day service and that service is generally formal, then leaders will need a rehearsal and items will need to be laid out carefully so that decorations can be hung with a minimum of spoken directions.

The service may begin at the doors of the church with the people gathering at the entrance.


Introduction
Whether the service begins at the church doors or with the people already gathered in the worship space, this or a similar introduction is used.

Leader:
In the days to come
the mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hill;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say:

All:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that God may teach us God's ways
and that we may walk in God's paths."

— Isaiah 2:2-3 alt.

A child or youth says:
With what shall we come to God's house?

Leader:
Bring branches of cedar and holly,
bring evergreens and a pine tree,
hang wreaths and garlands.

All:
Make the church fragrant
with the smell of living things and our holy play.

In acts of hanging greens
and listening to the words of prophets and seers
let us make our hearts and this space
a place of inward and outward preparation
for the One
who comes to give us second birth.

Opening Prayer using one of the following:

UMH 201
BOW 250-254

or

Good Lord, by your mercy
guide our outward actions in such ways
that our inward being is formed
in faith, hope, and love.
May the decorations we offer
engage our senses during the days of Advent
and enliven our praise and worship,
in the name of the child of Bethlehem,
our risen and coming savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Hymn or Song]
One of the following may be sung, in whole or in part:
UMH 203 Hail to the Lord's Anointed
UMH 206 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
UMH 207 Prepare the Way of the Lord
UMH 211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
UMH 213 Lift Up Your Heads
TFWS 2090 Like a Child
TFWS 2085 He Came Down
TFWS 2187 Now It Is Evening (if the service is held in the evening of the day)

If the service begins at the entrance to the church building, then no hymn or song is sung here, and the service continues with Hanging Wreaths on the Church Doors.

[Hanging Wreaths on the Church Doors]
This action takes place at the doors of the church. If a wreath or wreaths will not be placed at the entrance of the church at this point, then this section of the service may be omitted.

Leader:
People of God, we stand at the entrance of the church
and at the doorway to the Christian year
on this first Sunday of Advent.
Let us mark the entrance to the church building
and our hearts and minds as portals for Christ to enter.

All:
Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus!

Responsory:
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the Ruler of glory may come in.
Who is the Ruler of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors!
That the Ruler of glory may come in.

Who is this Ruler of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
the Lord is the Ruler of glory!

— Psalm 24:7-10

Here the wreaths or bows are hung and the congregation enters the church singing one of the following:
UMH 206 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
UMH 207 Prepare the Way of the Lord
UMH 211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
UMH 213 Lift Up Your Heads
TFWS 2091 The King of Glory Comes

Hanging Garlands/Wreaths

Leader:
How shall we make this place a reminder of our need of repentance and that faithfulness and integrity that comes from God our maker and redeemer?

All:
Let us hang garlands [and/or wreaths] as Hosea speaks the word of God:

Those hanging garlands and wreaths do so during the reading.

Reader:
A reading from Hosea, chapter 14:

I will heal [my people's] disloyalty;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.

O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
your faithfulnesscomes from me.
Those who are wise understand these things;
those who are discerning know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
— Hosea 14:4, 8-9

Here ends the reading.

Hymn or Song:
UMH 140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness (stanza 1 and refrain)
UMH 184 Of the Father's Love Begotten
UMH 196 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Placing the Christmas Tree

Leader: God, the Holy One of Israel, is a God of comfort and compassion.
With the Christmas tree
we remember God's everlasting promises to the poor and needy.
Isaiah spoke of God's making of the wilderness
a place of blessing where water and plants,
even pine trees,
would manifest God's loving action to save and provide.

All:
Place the tree, strong friends, as we hear God's word.

Reader:
A reading from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 41:

When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them,
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
so that all may see and know,
all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
— Isaiah 41:17-20

The word of the Lord.

Hymn or Song:
UMH 210 Toda la Tierra (All Earth Is Waiting)
UMH 200 Tell Out My Soul
TFWS 2098 The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
TFWS 2099 Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine (stanza 3 and refrain)

Hanging Chrismons or Other Symbols of Christ and Faith

Leader:
Here in this place we prepare for the coming of the Lord.
Here we will remember his Advent,
his birth in Bethlehem,
weak and helpless as an infant.
And here we rekindle our prayer,
"Come, Lord Jesus"
as we await his coming as the bright and morning star.

All:
Hang symbols and signs of Christ — ruler, prophet, priest.
Hang stars, crosses, triangles, the "alpha" and the "omega"
to remind us of his identity, his story, and of the holy Trinity.

Reader:
A reading from the book of Revelation, chapter 22:

"See, I am coming soon ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
"It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."
And let everyone who hears say, "Come."
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
— Revelation 22:12-14, 17

The word of the Lord.

Here people hang chrismons, starting with a star, as the congregations sings one of the following or some other appropriate song:

Hymn or song:
UMH 202 People, Look East
UMH 718 Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending (stanzas 1 and 4)
UMH 719 My Lord, What a Morning
UMH 726 O Holy City, Seen of John
UMH 733 We're Marching to Zion
TFWS 2095 Star Child
TFWS 2284 Joy in the Morning

If the Hanging of the Greens is part of a service of Word and Table, then the service continues with the lighting of the first Advent candle. Then the service may continue with the sermon, or it may proceed to the "concerns and prayers," the peace, offering and thanksgiving, and communion.

Categories: Advent - Christmas - Epiphany, Advent, Services and Liturgies