As the Season of Advent has begun and we start the count down on our Journey to Christmas. Have you stopped to prepare yourself for the coming of Christ? Which coming are you preparing for? His first coming in His birth or His second coming? The word Advent, anglicized from the Latin word adventus meaning ‘coming”, is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
Going deep into the Latin word adventus it is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second coming of Christ. So Advent is not only about the coming of the birth of Christ but the Advent season is about centering on the final fulfillment of God’s purpose in human history. We are called to prepare and get ready for the fruition of the final Advent, the second coming of Jesus Christ. His final coming at the end of time. So for Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas.
The Advent wreath represents the long time when people lived in spiritual darkness, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the world. Now we as Christians each year during Advent wait once again in darkness for the next coming of the Lord. The flame of the candles is like hope. As long as the candle burns then there is a continual flame burning never stopping and there is a source of light. As long as we have hope burning inside of us then there is light in our lives. Each of the four weeks during the season of Advent has a candle which means something. The candles are “Hope” which represents the Patriarchs of the faith. “Peace” which represents the prophets who foretold of Jesus’ birth. “Love” which represents John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for Christ. And “Joy” which represents Mary, the mother of Jesus. The fifth and final candle, which is usually white, represents Jesus Christ and is lit on either Christmas eve or Christmas Day. The circular wreath which has no beginning and no end is meant to represent God’s eternity. The evergreens are also a symbol of everlasting life. The red berries represent the life Jesus shed for us.
The season of Advent is to prepare us. Christmas is really about focusing our minds, wills and hearts not on the end of the world but on the beginning of life as God would have it lived. Only when we hear and incorporate the message of the final Advent does the celebration of the first Advent make any sense. Only when we have truly celebrated the Advent season, are we ready for Christmas. Christmas is not meant to be an isolated day but a way of life that is followed all year long. Christmas is only properly understood after having the preparation provided by Advent. In the midst of the secular excesses leading up to Christmas, Advent provides a welcome solace and an opportunity to continually re-orient ourselves to God’s will as we expectantly wait with patriarchs, prophets and kings for the true meaning of Christmas: the Incarnation of God the Son, Jesus Christ.