All Saint’s Day

On this day in 1512, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

On this day in 1512, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

Today is All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints.

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All Saints’ Day is a Christian festival celebrated to honor saints known and unknown. Western Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Community, the Lutheran Church and other Protestants, celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday of November.

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The Second Sunday of Advent

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The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).

– Matthew 1:23

The focus of the Second Sunday of Advent has traditionally been that of Divine Love. The love of a God who would send his son to earth to pay the price of sin.

Jesus said:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:37-40

With all of the horrible, painful news that floods the airways today it is sometimes difficult to remember love. It seems as though there is very little love out there.

And when people of faith turn to prayer and love, sometimes they get mocked. Read more about that here.

But Advent and Christmas is a time for people of faith to remember that there is hope. Hope that was born in a manger.

The First Sunday of Advent

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All last week Americans heard over and over about Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But  today is the First Sunday of Advent and in the Christian faith this is the beginning of the season, the looking toward the Coming of the Christ child.

Sunday, November 2 begins the liturgical season of Advent in Western Christian churches. This may involve special prayers and the lighting of the first Advent candle.

Some churches or families may choose to follow an Advent calendar counting down the days until Christmas. After World War II, military personnel and their families who had been stationed in Germany brought them home to the United States.

In Eastern Christian churches a similar observance, called the Nativity Fast, runs for 40 days.

“The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Old Testament Scholar, Dr. John Oswalt, speaks to how the Old Testament speaks of the coming of Christ.

Here are some resources to help celebrate Advent.

You Version (the electronic Bible) has featured reading and devotional plans for Christmas and Advent.

d365 offers Devotionals for 365 Days a year and offers “Following the Star” an Advent guide with Scripture and meditations. The series begins today with “Hope.” Writer Mihee Kim-Kort, says: “Advent is a seson in which we can cultivate a posture of waiting and watching with hope.”

How to Make an Advent Wreath
Catholicism at About.com

Apartment Therapy offers 35 DIY Advent Calendars to Make Now So You’re Ready for December. There are options for those not of the Christian faith who still wish to count down the days to Christmas.

Advent, it’s about preparing the way.

Hymns of Thanks

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When the English settlers gathered to give thanks to the harvest they shared a common faith, a common bond. Through the years Christians have continued to give thanks and some wonderful hymns have come out of that tradition of worship and thankgiving. Here are the first verses of four of the most loved Thanksgiving Hymns.

Come Ye Thankful People, Come,
Words by Henry Alford, Music by George J. Elvey

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Count Your Blessings
Words by Johnson Oatman, Jr., Music by Edwin O. Excell

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Now Thank We All Our God
Words by Martin Rinkhart (translation Catherine Winkworth), Music by Johann Cruger

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

We Gather Together
Netherlands folk hymn, translated by Theodore Baker

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Have a favorite Thanksgiving hymn?  Or a favorite post about Thanksgiving?  Share in the comments!