A blog friend asked about advent so I thought why not make that into a post. I am no expert on church History and the like but I can share what I know. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which simply means coming. For about 4 thousand years the Jews had awaited the coming of their Lord and of course Christmas is the celebration of His arrival. As for us Christians we await His coming again. Advent is a time to reflect on this. We can celebrate the wonderful fulfilled prophesies of old, and we can await the ones yet to be filled. Advent starts on the Sunday closest to Nov. 30th, this year it begins this Sunday the 29th!
A little more history. From my reading on this subject it is really hard to say when exactly this tradition began most resources suggest somewhere around the 4th century but I read that there was a reference as far back as the 2nd century. During the Middle Ages the focus was on the second coming with prayer and fasting. It also use to be six weeks but sometime in the 9th century it was shortened to 4 weeks.
Advent wreaths really vary nowadays, however you still see lots of the traditional 4 candle wreathes with 3 purple candles and one pink. Some will have a fifth candle that is in the middle and that candle is white. The three purple candles represent hope, peace, and love. These candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The pink candle, which represents joy, is usually lit on the third Sunday. The white candle is the Christ candle and it is lit on Christmas. It is often lit on Christmas Eve too! I have heard it said that purple is associated with royalty and that is why there are 3 purple. Not sure about the pink one I am sure I knew once the significance but I can’t remember.For us we usually grab for candles of purple or burgandy and a white one. We light them through out Advent. I am thinking of using the pillar candles because we like to light them everyday. So the first week just the first candle is lit and on the second week two are lit and on and on. Some people have a traditional prayer that is prayed at the lighting of the candle. Some have the tradition of having the youngest child lighting the first candle and then the second youngest lighting the second candle you get the idea. My Mom has always said, “Come Lord Jesus Come,” when she lights them.
I also read that the 4 candles represent the 4000 years the Jews waited for Christ. As for advent calanders they are a neat thing but they don’t technically follow advent they start on December 1st and count down the days till December 25th.
Personal I love the idea of advent. I love spending 4 weeks before Christmas baking and crafting and listening to Christmas music, but I think it is easy to get so absorbed into the activities that we loose sight of Jesus. Taking time to really prepare our hearts to reflect is a wonderful thing that helps keep our eyes on the greatest gift of all.
I think Advent can look different for every family. We have all sorts of traditions and things we do but most importantly I tried to fill this time with activities that point us to focusing on our Lord. I shared before about 3 wonderful books written by Arnold Ytreeide even though we have read all 3 we will be reading Tabitha’s Travells again this year. He keeps us on the edge of our seats, yet he always challenges us. After each portion of the story he gives us something to think about and discuss. This is an exert from his challenge after the first days reading;
“Advent is a time for us to focus on the real Jesus of scripture; a time to get rid of our own ideas about who he is and what he should do for us. It’s a time to learn from him how to be servants, to be humble, to love.
Tabitha’s family may not understand her, and we may not fully understand what Jesus is all about. But take these next few weeks to think and learn about the true Christ of Christmas. It’s what Advent is all about!”
Take the next few days and think about what your family can do over the next few weeks to draw closer to Jesus, and really celebrate Him Christmas morning. Here are a few other links of Advent ideas;
I am not endorsing the above sites and I have no idea if all of their content is quality, I have just found some useful items and I am passing that along. Hope that helps.
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