The Hanging of the Greens
I. What is the Significance?
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Have you ever wondered why we talk about the “hanging of the greens?” Or why an evergreen is called an evergreen? And why Christmas greens are traditionally used to emphasize the nativity? Green represents renewal, new life, freshness, and rebirth. Plants such as pine, fir, holly, ivy, and mistletoe are called evergreens because they do not die; through the seasons of the year, they remain ever-green, ever-alive. It is no wonder then that we deck our sanctuary and halls with evergreens during this Advent season. Advent is the season of preparation for the ever-coming Christ, God’s gift to us of renewal and transformation.
Because the needles of the pine and fir trees appear not to die each season, the ancients saw them as signs of things that last forever. Isaiah tells us that there will be no end to the reign of the Messiah. Therefore, we hang these wreathes of evergreens shaped in a circle, which in itself has no end, to signify that the kingdom of God, to which Christ so eloquently testified, is also without end.
II. Wreaths Already Up
A. Past Souls (Those who have gone before us.)
B. Future Souls (Those who are not of this flock who will come into the fold.)
C. Connected and Bound by the Cross
III. Founders -- Descendants -- Younger Generation
Founding Families in Alphabetical Order:
1. Mr. and Mrs. S.W. Johnson
2. Mrs. S.R. Martin
3. Mr. and Mrs. L.M. Minter
4. Mrs. L.H. Wagoner
IV. We are all Connected
A. Descendants of Four Founding Families Stand
B. “Families that pray together, stay together.” What a great legacy.
C. As your ancestors passed their faith and the fruits of their hard work on to you so that it would endure another generation, you need to do the same for the next. Are we really prepared to do this and are we willing to do this? Are you mentoring individuals from the younger generation? Are you teaching them? Are you truly welcoming them?
There is not much more that can be said that would be anymore significant than what we started with at the beginning of this Worship time. If that does not bring you joy, then I don’t know what will. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” We have inherited a great legacy from men and women who have gone before us. They trusted that the Child was born and the Son was given. They trusted that He gave Himself for them and we believe the same. The hope of the ages arrived and peace has come on earth to those on whom His favor rests.
That is worth rejoicing over!!!
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord? How are we to do rejoice always?
Have you ever felt less than joyful? Have you ever come to church and just really didn’t feel like singing or shaking hands? This is the human condition. We are weak and vulnerable so that is understandable, yet we are told to rejoice at all times. Let’s answer these two questions.
1. What does it mean to REJOICE in the Lord?
A. To rejoice in the Lord is to have a healthy relationship with Him in the first place. David said in a Psalm “He brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God.”
B. Secondly, it is to adoringly respond to the knowledge that we are at peace with Him through the blood of Christ.
2. How are we to rejoice ALWAYS?
A. In all of the flux of the Christian life, whether in attacks from those who have strayed, personality clashes with fellow believers, persecution, or physical death we are to rejoice.
B. Joy is something that is known and experienced in the heart. So, whether there is a smile on our face or a song on our lips does not matter. We can rejoice in the deepest, darkest circumstances.
Each and every time we gather together in this place we should fill the walls with joy. From classroom to sanctuary, handshake to hug, greetings and goodbyes – We need to allow our joy to show forth. What if every single one of you came to the assembly with excitement? What if you made it your goal each and ever week to be as joyful as possible? Can you visualize how lively this church would be? Can you imagine the people we would attract? Can you dream of the impact we could have in this community for the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ?
A people who truly exhibit the joy that they claim to have… That would be awesome…
And if this was to happen and you were experiencing one of those down days, you could not help but be built up by your brothers and sisters. For a while I couldn’t think of where to go with this sermon, but now I have the picture. This is what God wants for His people. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed!” We are free to love, free to worship, free to laugh, free to be joyful!!!
This statements found in Philippians 4:4 is not just good advice it is a command to be obeyed. So I challenge you – As Christmas is around the corner and 2011 is just over the hill – Make it your life’s mission to be a Christian that is full of joy – So full that it floods out of you when we are together! No matter the past – which is fixed – Or the future – which is held in God’s hands – Fort Trial Christian Church will be a people of pure, inescapable JOY always!!!