By RICK COUSINS
A brass and glass Advent star handcrafted in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico will lead a line of worshippers through the streets of Galveston beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Lutheran Church, 2415 Ave. G.
This tradition began in the mid-1980s, when the Rev. John Donovan, then rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, proposed a pilgrimage that would weave among some of the island’s most historic churches.
This year’s trek will include First Lutheran, First Baptist, Trinity Episcopal and First Presbyterian. These congregations were founded in 1850, 1841, 1840 and 1840 respectively, but the idea of processions during Advent goes back hundreds of years.
“A pilgrimage is a journey or a search that has spiritual significance,” said the Rev. Susan Kennard of Trinity. “All the major religious traditions of the world include a component of pilgrimage. When most of us hear the word ‘pilgrims,’ we think of Plymouth Rock in 1620 and the establishment of the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. In reality, though, we are all pilgrims, because we are all on a journey of spiritual significance.”
She said the Advent walk will include hymns, scripture lessons and prayer.
“We share table fellowship at the end, a common pilgrimage activity,” she said. “We pray together and give thanks for another year of life and service and love.”
This year, the event will include bells.
“We’re adding something new: Our JuBELLation hand bell choir will be playing a prelude as the pilgrims arrive,” said the Rev. Doug Guthier of First Lutheran. “Then, a children’s chorus from our Fanfare Lutheran Music Academy will offer a vocal call to worship. We hope to add freshness and beauty to what is already a lovely occasion.”
First Presbyterian’s Rev. Bob Murphy Jr. is new here, so this will be his first island Advent, and he’s looking forward to it.
“How special to celebrate among our downtown churches in Galveston,” he said. “We have our differences in theology, mission and traditions. But we wait upon the same Lord Jesus Christ who came, is coming and will surely come once again.”
Advent is a tradition dating to at least the Middle Ages and possibly much earlier. The name comes from the Latin, word for “coming.” It is traditionally observed during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day.
Preview this year’s crop of Christmas sermons from around the county.