By: Pressley Cox
Growing up, I had never heard of a “Hanging of the Greens” service. Preparing the sanctuary for Christmas was done by a group of women one Saturday morning. The bulletin announcement the next day would be a thank you to those who “decorated” the church. It wasn’t until seminary, that I began to understand the full theological meaning of preparing the sanctuary for the liturgical season of Advent and Christmas. A Hanging of the Greens service is meant to enhance the celebration of Advent, not simply to get ready for Christmas.
A Hanging of the Greens service can take various forms, including plays, children’s sermons, evening services, and morning worship. Regardless of the form, it is important to be clear about the purpose and meaning of the service, providing the history behind the various symbols added to the worshiping space. The greens alone represent renewal, new life, freshness, and rebirth.
In planning this service, identify the symbols that are important to Advent and your worshipping community and be sure to include the meaning behind each one.
Over the past few years, with slight variations, the symbols we have used include the colors of Advent, Light, Poinsettias, Greens, Crismons, Holly and Ivy, Advent wreath, Cross, Paten and Chalice. Each proclamation includes the history and importance of the symbol. Our Hanging of the Greens takes place on the First Sunday of Advent during the morning worship. The hymns used come from the Presbyterian Hymnal Glory to God unless otherwise indicated.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Hymn: #82 Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLORS
(paraments are brought forward and placed on the communion table and pulpit)
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 9:27
THE LIGHT PROCLAMATION
(acolytes lights candles of the communion table, candles in the window, and the Chrismon tree)
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN 87 Comfort, Comfort Now My People
THE POINSETTIA PROCLAMATION
(poinsettias are brought forward)
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 11:1-9
THE GREENS PROCLAMATION
(greenery is placed around the Advent wreath)
Hymn Adorning Your House, God
THE CHRISMON TREE
(readers share the meaning behind symbols that are on hung on the tree)
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 53:1-6
Proclamation of the Holly and Ivy
(Holly and Ivy are brought in and placed in designated areas)
HYMN The Holly and the Ivy
(traditional carol that can be found in various places)
THE ADVENT WREATH
(The first candle is lit is this service takes place on the First Sunday of Advent)
HYMN Now It’s Time to Light the Candle v. 1
(We use this lovely hymn by Martha Spong throughout the Advent season. https://marthaspong.com/2015/11/16/advent-carol-now-its-time-to-light-the-candle/)
SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 1:68-79
THE CROSS PROCLAMATION
(The cross is brought forward to its designated place)
HYMN 93 Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
PROCLAMATION OF THE BREAD AND CUP
(The elements for communion are brought forward to the communion table. Traditionally, we follow with the Sacrament of Communion)
HYMN 132 Good Christian Friends Rejoice!
Pressley Cox serves as pastor of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. She is a member of the APCE Advocate ministry team.