Two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, the world received a very important gift. That's when Jesus came to earth to walk among us and save us from our sins. And that's what we celebrate every Christmas. For centuries, Christians have anticipated Christmas Day with a month-long observance called Advent.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus and means "coming." The main event is the coming, or birth, of Jesus our Savior. As the saints of old anticipated the coming of Christ with great expectation, we, too, eagerly await His return.
The four weeks of Advent, beginning the Sunday nearest November through midnight Christmas Eve, represent the four great "comings" of Christ. The first is His coming of in the flesh, His birth, which we celebrate on Christmas Day. The second is His coming into the hearts of all who believe in Him. The third is His coming at the hour of death to the faithful, and the fourth is His coming at the final judgement. To symbolize this progression, Christians use Advent wreaths and candles.
Advent wreathes are designed using evergreen branches forming a never ending circle. The circle and the evergreen branches both symbolize the promise of eternal life through Christ. Four candles (three purple and one pink) are placed on the wreath, representing the four Sundays of Advent. Three purple candles represent the coming of Christ from the royal line of David. He is coming as the King of Kings. The pink candle is to remind us of the incredible joy that awaits us with arrival of the Christ child. A fifth candle, generally white and placed in the center of the wreath, is the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Eve in honor of His birth. It represents that Jesus is the light of the World.
Advent is so much more than a holiday or a tradition of remembrance of memorial; it is a time of spiritual cleansing and growth in Christ. Since the early saints, it has been a time of penitence and fasting, a time of reflection and seeking the Lord. But in current time--in the hustle and bustle of school and church activities, shopping, baking, parties, and wrapping-- we tend to lose sight of why we what we do at Christmastime.
I hope that these posts in the coming days will bring you back to the a traditional way of worshiping God and celebrating the birth of His Son at Christmas. I hope that in observing these traditions your family will draw closer together and create wonderful new memories and lasting traditions to enjoy year after year. Most of all, I pray that this journey brings you deeper, more meaningful communion with our Lord Jesus, the One who came to save us all.
We begin this journey together on December 2nd starting with the purple at the back left, the candle of Hope.