A Creative Service Outline for Hanging of the Greens

A Creative Service Outline for Hanging of the Greens-57.png

Hanging of the Greens is a traditional Christian ceremony of decorating the church for the Advent and Christmas season, often celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent or during a separate evening service.

Some churches have a Hanging of the Greens service on a Sunday afternoon, the week before the first Sunday of Advent. Others have a workshop-style event the day before the first Sunday of Advent, where families come and learn about the significance of our Christmas decorations and help prepare the church for the new season.

Still others plan a traditional service of readings and music to do as the worship service on the first Sunday of Advent.

Looking to do something like this at your church?

Here’s a service outline I created incorporating readings and musical responses, based on the prophecies and the symbols we use to decorate for this season. Please note: I can’t include the full text for some parts of the liturgy because of copyright, but the things I wrote I’m happy to share and have you use (please include the copyright statement, as shown).


Hanging of the Greens Service

PRELUDE

CHORAL INTROIT

“People, Look East” (v. 1)

CALL TO WORSHIP

How shall we prepare this house for the coming of the King?
With branches of cedar, the tree of royalty…

(For full text, see the UMC Book of Worship. Copyright 1992, The United Methodist Published House.)

HYMN #202 (UMH)

“People, Look East”

PRAYER

God of the darkened night, 
God of the morning light, come to us again. 
Come to us in the preparation of our homes and our hearts. 
Come to us in the harmony of song and the sound of silence. 
Come in our faithful waiting and hopeful watching. 
Come to us in the cry for peace and the smile of forgiveness. 
God of the darkened night, God of the morning light, 
come to us; be with us. Amen.

(Copyright 2016, Ashley Danyew)

A Light in the Darkness

Scripture

Isaiah 9:2, 6

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Hanging the Wreaths

Evergreens are a symbol of things that last.
Isaiah wrote that there would be no end to the Messiah’s reign...

(Adapted from the UMC Book of Worship. Copyright 1992, The United Methodist Published House.)

Children’s Message

Lighting of the Advent Wreath

Let us go to the mountain of the Lord. 
Come, let us walk together. 
Let us live in peace with each other and our neighbors. 
Let us walk in the way of the Lord.

In the midst of conflict and unrest, we are called to be messengers of peace.
In a dark world, we are called to be carriers of God’s light.
We light this candle as a symbol of Peace.
Make us ready, O God, for the coming of Jesus, our light and our peace.

(Copyright 2016, Ashley Danyew)

RESPONSE

A Tender Shoot

Scripture

Isaiah 53:2-5

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.”

Decorating the Windows

The sprigs of holly placed in each window are signs of Christ’s passion.
The thorny leaves and stems remind us of the crown of thorns,
    the red berries, the blood of the Savior, shed for us...

(Adapted from the UMC Book of Worship. Copyright 1992, The United Methodist Published House.)

Anthem

“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

An Everlasting Promise

Scripture

Isaiah 41:17-20

“The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
    and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert
    the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
    the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
    may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Decorating the Tree

With the Christmas tree, we remember God’s
everlasting promises to the poor and needy...
Today, we decorate this pine tree with symbols and signs of Christ to remind us of Christ’s identity, God’s story, and the Holy Trinity.

(Adapted from UMC Discipleship Ministries.)

HYMN #211 (UMH)

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

SCRIPTURE

Isaiah 2:1-5

Message

HYMN #431 (UMH)

“Let There Be Peace on Earth”

The Beginning and the End

Scripture

Revelation 22:12-13, 16

“Look, I am coming soon! 
    My reward is with me, and I will give to each person 
    according to what they have done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, 
    the First and the Last, 
    the Beginning and the End.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. 
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, 
    and the bright Morning Star.”

Changing the Paraments

Today marks the beginning of a new church year.
Purple, the color for penitence and royalty,
    is used to mark the seasons of Advent and Lent,
    the times of preparation before Christmas and Easter.
Like the cycles of the church year,
    we are reminded that God is the first and last,
    the Alpha and the Omega, 
    the beginning and the end.
    He is our bright Morning Star.
We remember this with the star-shaped leaves of the poinsettia.
May we prepare our hearts and minds
    for the coming of a Savior into our world today.

(Copyright 2016, Ashley Danyew)

Offertory

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

DOXOLOGY

HYMN #204 (UMH)

“Emmanuel, Emmanuel”

BENEDICTION

POSTLUDE


Do you do a Hanging of the Greens service or workshop at your church? What does it look like?

A few helpful resources:

Hanging of the Greens Service Outline
The United Methodist Book of Worship (buy here)
Unfolding Light (poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes)