I never celebrated Advent until a few years ago. It was not something our family or church observed. After reading and researching, commemorating Advent has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. It’s the perfect ritual to prepare your heart for the true meaning of Christmas. For you newbies, here’s some Advent tidbits. For you pros, consider this a review.
The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent or arrival, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30, and continues for three additional Sundays with the lighting of a candle, scripture reading, and prayer.
The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end.
The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.
Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son.
The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
The colors of the candles signify several aspects. Purple represents royalty and the celebration of the coming King. The pink candle, lighted the third week, is called the Shepherd or joy candle. The white candle represents Christ and most light it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The light of the candles 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.
Today we light the first candle, the candle of expectation or hope. God’s people waited with expectation for the arrival of the Messiah. We, too, watch with anticipation for the return of Jesus, the King of Kings.
But, unfortunately, as the holiday approaches a plethora of expectations swirl around us. Anticipation of how beautifully the house will be decorated, which presents we will receive, the behavior of our family, and how glorious our Christmas celebration will be. The difficulty lies in the fact that our expectations are rarely met, and we travel through the holiday season filled with disappointment.
Therefore, I challenge you during this holiday season to put your expectation in anticipating His arrival in your celebration. How will Christ show up for you this year? How will you make Him the central figure of your holiday? Light a candle today to symbolize the hope that resides in Christ alone.