Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Holy Season of Advent

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.  Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing.

Historically, the primary colour of Advent is purple, the colour of penitence and fasting as well as the colour of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the colour of suffering used during Lent.  This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and God’s grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

The beginning of Advent is a time for the hanging of the greens or the decoration of the church with evergreen wreaths, boughs, or trees that help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus the Christ. The 
circle of the Advent wreath reminds us of God’s 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.

 symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of God’s 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. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas Day and each Sunday in Advent has a theme to be pondered on. Candles are lit on these four Sundays, and a fifth candle is lit on Christmas day. The four themes (traditionally) are:

 God's people - The Patriarchs and Matriarchs: the advent hope.
The Hebrew Prophets
John the Baptist
Mary the mother of Jesus

You are warmly invited to join us each Sunday during Advent as we worship in expectation.