The season of Advent is almost upon us. This is the time that you will see many churches changing their altar paraments from green to blue and the Advent wreath come out of storage and placed in a prominent area in the sanctuary. It is also a time when the churches who celebrate Advent begin their midweek services.
But what does Advent mean and when did the Christian Church start observing Advent as a very serious part of its worship life?
The observance of Advent is so very old that it is hard to come up with a good starting date that it may have begun. The only real way of finding a date is by looking to the date when the church began to celebrate Christmas on December 25th. That practice started at the end of the 4th Century, but most church scholars feel Advent was celebrated in one form or another even before then. So, Advent is a very old tradition, but what does Advent mean?
The word Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus”, which means arrival and the Latin is taken from the Greek word “parousia” which is most commonly associated with the second coming of Christ. So, the meaning of Advent is twofold. It is the time when the church waits in anticipation for the coming of Jesus in the Holy incarnation in the nativity, but also it is a time when the church looks forward to another arrival, the arrival of Jesus in the second coming to take us all to our true home, both the living and those who have died in Christ.
We celebrate Advent with joyous anticipation by having special services, daily prayer, and in the lighting of the Advent candles. The circle of the Advent Wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of Christ. The candles themselves are called different names by different churches but generally they represent how the Holy Spirit works in us to create hope, love, joy and peace. The candles themselves are purple or blue, representing our penitential waiting, and the third Sunday of Advent is when the pink candle is lit, the pink candle meaning Joy. There is also a white “Christ Candle” in the middle of wreath and that one is lit on Christmas Eve reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world. The greenery placed around the wreath represents the promise of eternal life. It also adds to the festivity of Christmas as decorations are added to beautify the sanctuary and the Advent wreath with its circle of fir boughs is a fitting and beautiful addition.
For all who celebrate the ancient season of Advent, may you be blessed in your worship as we prepare for Jesus’ birth and His coming on the day of the Lord.
Pastor Jim Kyes
St. Peter the Fisherman Lutheran Church
1226 SW 13th St
Lincoln City, OR 97367