We prepare for the birth of Jesus during the season of Advent.
The seasons of the church year are helpful ways of focusing our attention on different aspects of the Christian story. The practice of keeping the church year dates back to 5th century Jerusalem.
As Christians, we use symbols to visually express the basics of our faith and as reminders of the journey in Christ and with Christ in our life. Symbols can have heightened meaning for us when associated with particular seasons of that journey. You will notice several symbols in this, the first season of the Christian year, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day.
We begin the Church Year with Advent, from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”. Advent, a quiet time of watching and waiting, consists of the four Sundays before Christmas when we anticipate Christ’s coming into the world. It is a time of preparation.
The Advent Wreath, made by a member of SsAM, consists of a circle of evergreen branches (symbolizing eternal life) and four candles, representing the light of God coming into the world. The fifth candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. There is no one prescribed color for the candles, although several traditions exist. Some of you may remember the use of purple during Advent, representing a penitential theme for the season. In more recent years, however, blue is being used, reflecting the sense of hope and anticipation.
On the 1st Sunday, a blue candle (hope) is lit. On the 2nd Sunday we add the second blue candle (peace or preparation) while on the 3rd Sunday, the pink candle (joy) is lit. The 4th Sunday in Advent marks the lighting of the final blue candle (love).
Compiled and written by D-L Casson.
Photo above: Members light the candles on the Advent Wreath at the beginning of a worship service.