Advent is a time of reflection during the 4 Sundays before Christmas. It was celebrated in the early church using a similar approach as Lent. It was initially a time of repentance and confession. However by the early 12th century it became a time to reflect on the second coming of Jesus the Christ and Lord. The color for this time is purple. Purple is a color that can mean repentance, confession or thoughtful reflection. Subsequently, the focus is on the New Testament word parousia. The term defines the second coming. It has the idea of a visitation by a king who establishes his rule. He gives servants responsibility to continue that rule and then comes back to stay for good in the established kingdom. Moreover, these different event sequences are understood as one event not two.
Hope, Peace Joy and Love
To help direct focus for this period, 4 ideas related to the advent were developed: Hope, peace, joy and love. Candles of any color were initially used to be a visual reminder of the reflection topic for the week. The candles also represent the light that the Lord God is in the new creation, Rev. 22:5. The candles were placed in no particular pattern. The wreath that is so associated with Advent was adapted in all Europe from the Scandinavian and German Christian tradition to use the wreath to hold the candles in a circle, which represents the eternity of God. The colored candles were eventually adapted to enhance the total Advent experience.
The Lord is Coming
During the period of Advent, the Christmas greeting “Merry Christmas”, was given to fellow Christians. Instead, Maranatha, “Our Lord, come” a prayer or “Our Lord, is coming” an exhortation, I Cor. 16:22, in keeping with the 4 Sundays of Advent observance. Christmas was cerebrated from December 25 to Jan.6 a time called Christmastide encompassing 12 days and ending on The Epiphany, Jan 6. We will follow Advent together starting with the Sunday readings.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalms 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matt. 24:36-44