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Christianity. Prayer and Festivals. Contents. Prayer The Lord’s Prayer Advent Christmas Maundy Thursday Good Friday Holy Saturday Easter Summary. Prayer.

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Prayer and Festivals

  • Prayer
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Holy Saturday
  • Easter
  • Summary
  • Christians pray privately as it is important to them to have a private relationship between them and God – after all we are all different!
  • Prayer sometimes uses words and sometimes involves meditation or contemplation.
  • Some people like to use aids to prayer such as rosary beads, crosses or crucifixes, icons or votive candles.
the lord s prayer
The Lord’s Prayer
  • This is the only prayer that is used by all Christians in common. It is found in the Bible as an example of how to pray.
    • It thanks God for all he has done
    • it praises his holy name
    • it acknowledges that we are sinners and asks for forgiveness
    • it asks for God to help us in our daily lives, and give us what we need, including protection.
  • Advent is the beginning of the Church’s year and is the time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. It starts four Sundays before Christmas.
  • Advent means ‘coming’. Christians think about the coming of Jesus, past, present and future.
    • The past: Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem
    • The present: Jesus’ coming into our lives this year
    • The future: Jesus’ coming at the end of time.
  • Often churches are made to look slightly more simple – for example, flowers are taken away. When priests wear coloured vestments for services, the colour of Advent is purple – symbolising preparation and saying sorry.
  • Churches and homes often have an Advent wreath. It is a ring of greenery with five candles – four purple ones and one white one. One extra purple candle is lit on each Sunday of Advent and the white one is for Christmas Day.
  • Other people have Advent candles marked with the numbers from 1 to 24 and burned each day or Advent calendars with different pictures behind each of 24 doors.
  • The emphasis is on counting down, waiting and preparation.
  • Christmas (or the Nativity of Jesus) is a celebration of the Incarnation – the birth of God as a human being.
  • The key celebration takes place in most churches at Midnight when a Communion Service is held (Midnight Mass).
  • Churches are decorated and many people go to church once only during this year at this time.
  • On Christmas Day, there will be family services, and services around the crib.
  • Prayers are often said for those for whom Christmas is not a time of celebration.
  • The stories in the Bible of the birth of Jesus are read.
  • Often churches have wonderful cribs and some of the more home-based ways of celebrating are starting to be found in churches, for example, Christmas trees.
  • Christmas carols are joyful ways of telling the world about the Good news – that Jesus has been born for us all.
  • Nativity plays are ways that all people – even those who do not usually go to church can remember the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Christmas presents remind us that God gave us the ultimate present – his only Son.
maundy thursday
Maundy Thursday
  • The week before Easter is called ‘Holy Week’. On the Thursday, Christians remember the Last Supper with a Communion Service in the evening.
  • Just before the Last Supper, Jesus showed his service of his disciples by washing their feet. Many churches have this or a similar gesture take place.
  • At the end of the service, the altar might be stripped and then there might be a vigil in the church until midnight. This brings to mind the waiting in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested.
good friday
Good Friday
  • On Good Friday Christians remember Jesus’ death. It is called ‘Good’ because it was the day that sin was defeated.
  • In many villages, Christians from all denominations get together and hold a walk of witness through the town.
  • In some churches there are three hour services – this is how long Jesus was on the cross for.
  • Other churches celebrate the stations of the cross – remembering the long walk from the trial to the site of crucifixion which Jesus had to make.
  • During the main service, people are shown a cross which they kiss to show they are thankful for what Jesus did.
  • Holy Communion is usually not celebrated on Good Friday as it is too much of a celebration for such a solemn day.
holy saturday
Holy Saturday
  • Many churches keep everything stripped and bare remembering the waiting while Jesus was in the tomb.
  • There are usually no services on the day.
  • However, during the night, Christians gather together for the Easter vigil.
  • Many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by going to an Easter vigil. They light a fire outside the church remembering new life. The special Easter (Paschal) candle is lit and carried into the darkened church. The candles of the congregation are lit – the darkness begins to become light.
  • After this there are readings from the Bible telling the story of the history of the world.
  • The emphasis is on new life – so this is an appropriate time to celebrate baptisms. All people tend to renew the promises that were made at their baptisms to believe in God and turn away from sin.
  • Some churches have an Easter garden to remember the place where Jesus was buried.
  • Easter eggs are symbols of new life.
  • Chocolate is a symbol of celebration.
  • The word on the lips of all Christians is ‘alleluia’ – a word of great joy found in many Easter hymns and songs.
  • Easter is the key day in the Church’s year. Jesus is risen from the dead and the world has been saved.
  • Prayer is central for Christians and can take place in whatever way is important to that person.
  • The Church year has key festivals – it starts with the season of Advent – a time of preparation for Christmas, the birthday of Jesus.
  • Just before Easter the events of Jesus’ suffering and death are remembered on Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper) and Good Friday (his death).
  • Easter is the key celebration of the Church year when Jesus’ resurrection is remembered.