The Advent Season: Preparing for the Coming of Christ
Advent is traditionally celebrated the four Sundays before Christmas as a means of preparing our hearts for the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, which means coming.
"It's telling and re-telling the story of why God came into this world, the Incarnation, and also pointing and looking forward to His coming again," notes Rev. Marty O'Rourke.
Christians typically celebrate the season by lighting the ceremonial Advent candles and reading Scriptures. As the candles are lit, the Christmas story is told from its foretelling in Isaiah to its culmination in the second chapter of Luke. The Old Testament points to the promise of a Savior.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6, NIV).
The wreath is always in the shape of a circle to represent God's eternity, His unending nature. The evergreens symbolize life. We as Christians have eternal life once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Nestled inside the wreath of evergreens are five candles, each representing a significant aspect of the Christmas story. The first three candles are purple to represent preparation, the fourth candle is pink to represent joy, and the last is white to represent Christ. Each candle also has an individual meaning.
On the first Sunday of advent, the candle of prophecy and preparation is lit.
On the second Sunday, family members light the candle of proclamation, remembering the angels who announced the Savior.
The third week, we emphasize anticipation. For hundreds of years, godly men and women awaited the presence of the King. And what a joy it was for the lowly shepherds who first experienced the joyous news of Christ's birth.
After the three weeks of preparation, the joy of the coming Savior is celebrated with a pink candle. On this Sunday, we remember the expectation Mary felt as she had Emmanuel, God with us, pressing at her womb.
On Christmas Eve, one last candle, the white candle, is lighted. Often the biggest of the five candles and centered in the middle of the wreath, this Christ candle marks the culmination of the promise of a coming Savior. Celebrate the occasion with family prayer time, acknowledging the light of Christ not only in the world, but also in our hearts. On Christmas Eve, as that last candle is lit, remember the words of Scripture, Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Although the Advent wreath is one of the most popular ways to celebrate the season, it is by no means the only way to celebrate. Another fun way to make the holiday season joyous is by creating a progressive nativity? Start with just the stable. Watch as the children's anticipation increases as each week a new figure is added to the scene until finally the Christ child is placed in the manger on Christmas Eve.