I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent. It was not something I was really even familiar with. As an adult, though, I’ve visited more churches who incorporate Advent into their holiday worship, and I’m becoming more familiar with the celebration during the Christmas season.
Advent is the four week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is celebrated by Christians of all denominations. The ultimate goal of Advent is to prepare our hearts for a time of worship on Christmas day.
I like that.
Advent means “the coming.” It is a time to look forward to and anticipate the celebration of Christmas and the giving of God’s most precious gift to human beings, Jesus Christ. Advent can be celebrated at church and also in the home for a ceremony that just involves the family.
Advent season involves the lighting of candles in a wreath. The Advent candles can sit in a candle holder specifically designed to hold the five Advent candles or can be put into votive candle holders surrounded by a green garland wreath symbolizing the season.
Advent candelabras and wreaths range from the very expensive (used in large churches) to the affordable ones used in home celebrations. A family can construct their own Advent centerpiece so that it has the personal touch. In fact, Curly came home the other day from school with an Advent Wreath she made from a paper plate and construction paper! Ideally, the Advent candle setup is placed in a prominent spot in the room so that it can be a constant reminder of the miraculous birth we celebrate on Christmas Day.
One candle is lit each Sunday representing four virtues of the season: Faith, Joy, Hope, and Love. Different Christian publications list each virtue in a different order.
There are four main candles for Advent: Three blue or deep purple candles and one pink candle. The Advent portion of service usually involves a litany or Scripture reading, a song, and the lighting of the candle. This past Sunday, one of our church families had their 6 year old quadruplets quote Luke 2:1-7, then 2 of the children prayed, while another lit the candle with his mother.
Really, Advent can be celebrated at home also. Each night your family can light the candle for the week’s topic and read a scripture and say a prayer. Advent celebrations open up discussion between parents and kids about the real meaning of Christmas and the significance of Christ’s birth.
The last candle and usually the largest is the white candle that fits in the center of all the others. It is called the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Day. Some churches hold special services on Christmas and some do not. Everyone can light the final candle in their homes as a celebration for the culmination of the Advent season.
Advent is a time of remembrance and internal reflection about on how we view Christmas in our hearts. The love God showed towards us is the love He wants us to share at Christmastime and the whole year round.