Hey there! Hope all y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. As I write this, it’s still to come, but I’m quite sure we will have a wonderful time. We always do. It’s always good to gather with family and friends and just share life. Good food in the mix surely doesn’t hurt anything, either – and we have a few really great cooks in our crew. It’s just a good thing we don’t do this every week or I’d be a lot bigger! So, now, are you getting ready for Christmas? What about Advent? Wait, Advent? What in the world is Advent?Believe it or not, there is another season between Halloween and Christmas, even if you don’t count Thanksgiving or ‘football’. The season is Advent. It’s a lost season in the commercial world, and for awhile a lot of Protestant churches largely ignored it. That’s so sad, because it’s such a wonderful time to slow down and reflect, instead of getting caught up in the craziness of the commercial frenzy.
So, what is Advent? Advent is the time before Christmas, beginning on a Sunday. There are four Sundays in Advent, so depending on what day of the week Christmas falls on, it could be nearly a five week season, or barely a four week season. This year, it’s about four and a half weeks. The first Sunday in Advent this year is this coming Sunday, November 30, 2014; Christmas Day falls on a Thursday. Advent is a season of preparing for the Christ child to come- into the world in a stable 2000 years ago, looking forward to His final coming in the future, and coming more intimately into our own hearts in the here and now.
I want to talk about some traditions of Advent, since it starts day after tomorrow. I’ll fill in some of the gaps as we progress through the season. I’ve always loved Advent since I learned about it in the Lutheran church as a child. As I grew older and deeper in my faith, it has helped me to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Advent gives me a chance to take a few minutes each day and re-focus on what’s really important.
The first tradition is the Advent wreath. The picture I used for this post shows the wreath with four candles. Three are purple, the fourth one is rose colored. The wreath is a circle of greenery, representing eternal life. The color purple is a color representing His royalty, our need for repentance and the need to prepare our hearts for Jesus to come. This is a wonderful season to take a look at our lives and see where we could do better, where we could serve others better, and to ask Him to help us become more like Him. The third candle is rose in color, representing joy. Some say that it’s joy that the waiting for Christmas is half over and we’re that much closer to the birth of our Savior.
You can make one or you can buy them in every size and price range. They can be quite simple, some greenery and four candles. If you want ideas on how to make your own advent wreath, I’d suggest my favorite resource – Pinterest. A Google search will also turn up lots of ideas, both for making the wreath, and for prayers and meditations to use each night as you light the candles. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, there are lots of great resources out there. Just pick one and keep it simple. Often, if something is new to me, I’ll look for resources for children until I get a better grasp of it. This is especially true in things of the faith.
Put the candles in the wreath, and each evening of the first week you light one purple candle and say the prayer for that week. That’s all. The next week you light that one and a second purple candle. The third week you add the pink candle. On the fourth week you light all four candles. Light represents Christ and lighting the candles represents inviting His light to shine ever more brightly in us as we make our preparation for His coming.
Since I live alone, I like to light the candles just after dinner and read a bit from an advent meditation book. Many families light the candles and pray the prayer together just before the evening meal, letting the candles burn throughout the dinner hour.
However you decide to do it, I encourage you to try this wonderful tradition. If you still have questions, you can always contact your local Catholic church.
We’ll talk more later!