Advent – A Time of Preparation
Advent is a holy season in the Christian calendar. It begins four Sundays before Christmas. It is a very special time, as Christians wait and prepare for the coming of the Lord, Jesus, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas. While Santa Claus’ arrival is a big event, we must remember Jesus’ birth on earth is much bigger and the real cause for Christmas.
The name Advent comes from the Latin words, advenire (to come to) & adventus (an arrival), and refers to Christ’s coming into this world.
In the early days of the church, Advent was a time of prayer and confession. Today, Advent is more a time of preparation and expectation of the coming of the Lord.
The Advent Wreath is an important symbol of Advent of the season. The Advent wreath is made up of two basic parts: the wreath itself and the candles. The wreath is made of evergreen, either real or artificial. It’s circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end. The evergreen was chosen as it symbolizes growth and everlasting life. There are four candles, three purple and one pink. They represent the four weeks of preparation. A center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the Christ is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.
The lighting tradition– On the fourth Sunday before Christmas (the first Sunday of Advent), the first candle is lit and a short prayer is said. Two candles are lit during the second week, three during the third and four during the fourth week. The center candle is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Day.
The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others (Isaiah 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshippers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized.
The meaning of the candles is as follows:
First Purple candle: represents hope.
Second Purple Candle: stands for love.
Third, pink candle: represents joy.
Fourth purple candle: is a symbol of peace.