There are a few seasons of the Liturgical Calendar that just about all Christians observe and Advent is one of those. Advent at our house growing up was a focal point of our preparation for Christmas. Without fail every night we would gather in the living room and my parents would lead us in a short devotion, we would light the Advent wreath candles, sing a Christmas Carol together, and pray. Don’t tell my mom, but those moments of calm in the midst of band concerts, part time jobs, choir rehearsals, shopping, and planning for vacation were a welcome respite for this extrovert during the most extroverted time of the year.
What is Advent?
Many people view Advent as a countdown to Christmas. As merely a way to mark the time. From a practical stand point this is what it appears to be. At its core Advent is a countdown. Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas and each Sunday in advent is assigned a Theme: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. This year Advent begins on November 29th and ends, as always, on Christmas Eve. A nice tidy countdown.
Advent is, however, more than just a countdown to Christmas. As with all seasons in the Liturgical Calendar, the season of Advent is intentionally set aside for a specific purpose. Advent is the beginning of the church year and not only that, but also a season for “expectant waiting” as it has been described. A waiting that is both a celebration of the birth of Christ, but also for the promise we have in his return.
(Note: There are many variations of Advent Observance, the variation I describe here may differ from one that you practice or remember.)
As I mentioned above, in our home growing up we had an Advent wreath. Many churches have these as well as many homes. There are typically four candles that surround a large white “Christ Candle” in the center. The four candles represent each of the themes and have a specific color: Hope is Purple, Peace is Purple, Joy is Pink, and Love is, again, Purple.
This expectant waiting provides us an opportunity to spend focused time in small meditations on each theme as Christmas nears.
An Invitation to Advent
This year has been incredibly challenging for everyone in different ways. We have been given a unique opportunity this Christmas season that we have not had before in our lifetime and may not have again. Instead of the usual hustle and bustle that we associate with the holidays, we find ourselves instead with the gift of time. I would like to extend an invitation for you to take advantage of this gift and join me this Advent season.
Each morning at 6:00am from November 29 to Christmas Eve I will post a short devotion at this link: Austin’s 2020 Advent. I know that for some of you this daily Advent reading will be brand new, for others this might be old hat, and for others this will be an opportunity to reconnect with a faith you thought you might never see again.
Every year it feels like I identify with one of the four themes of Advent just a bit more than the others. This year, however, I need Hope, I need Peace, I need Joy, and I need Love in equal measure. I can’t imagine I am alone. Make this the year that Advent is more than just a countdown to Christmas, let’s experience the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of Christ together as we wait.
If you would like to purchase an Advent wreath, Amazon has many to choose from as well as Etsy. Order soon to avoid shipping delays.