Advent. Have you ever wondered what that means….really?
My personal connection to advent is buying the cute little calendars with a treat or a toy behind each door. And having to wait…until the next day…to get my next treat! In fact, I just bought advent calendars at Trader Joe’s for all the dogs and cats in our families.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago – I went to Well Watered Women (my fave place for Bible studies and insights) looking for a Bible study that would light a fire under me and get me back on track in talking to my heavenly Father. I saw an Advent Study and got that too. Because I know that Advent has something to do with Jesus, right?
As that study was sitting on my desk I realized that I had NO idea when to begin. When is Advent? So, in typical Jane fashion, I hit the internet.
I found out that it begins the 4th Sunday before Christmas. This year, 2022, the Season of Advent goes from Sunday, November 27th through Saturday, December 24th. The 4 weeks leading up to Christmas day.
Ok. That makes sense since Jesus was born on Christmas day (the reason we celebrate, duh Jane!)
But what is the season of advent all about?
What is it for?
What am I supposed to do (besides the study)?
I went to my Advent study and this is what Gretchen Saffles says:
“Advent is a latin word that means ‘coming.’ There are two advents in Scripture – the first advent was the incarnation of Christ, and the second advent refers to the future event of Christ’s return to defeat Satan forever and restore God’s kingdom. As Christians, we base our entire lives upon the first advent. We believe that God’s Son became flesh and dwelt among us, lived a sinless life, and died a death we deserved in order to ransom us from the rule or rebellion. We also root our hope in the second advent of Jesus as we eagerly wait, in confidence, for the day he comes again to reign and rule forever. (Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13).”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
So, the Season of Advent is the time for followers of Jesus to come together and remember all that the Israelites went through in the Old Testament as they awaited for the Messiah to come.
It is also a time for Christians to step away from the packages, ribbons and bows – and remember their savior.
It is a time for us to prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth…in the world as we live it today.
It is a time for families and communities to remember through prayer, reflections, music and good deeds, what the true meaning of Jesus’ birth really is.
How to celebrate the Season of Advent –
Because Advent happens throughout the world there are many different ways to celebrate.
The most significant tradition in the the Season of Advent is the Advent Wreath. The wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. So what does the Advent Wreath symbolize?
The wreath is made of various evergreens and signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, and the everlasting life we have in Christ.
Even the individual evergreens that make up the wreath have their own meanings that can be adapted to our faith. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering. The pine, holly, and yew signify immortality and the cedar signifies strength and healing. The pine cones that decorate the wreath symbolize life and resurrection.
The wreath as a whole is meant to remind us of both the immortality of our souls and God’s promise of everlasting life to us through Christ.
Wow…who knew! And then there are the candles…
The candles also have their own special significance. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the color violet is a liturgical color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.
The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.
On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
Now, I am fascinated and I just love all of this. In today’s world, most of us have 4 candles that match our home decor, and we light one each Sunday.
Another way that people like to celebrate is by counting down the days to Christmas with an Advent Calendar. And, we need to remember that we are counting down the days until Jesus’ birth…NOT Santa’s visit.
An advent calendar has tiny doors or pockets and each one has a tiny treat or surprise inside each one.
There are so many different calendars. The chocolate ones, the dog treat ones, or the ‘something special’ ones.
I just made the CUTEST advent calendar for my granddaughter, Eleanor, and her future siblings. I am hoping that her parents (the fillers of the pockets) surprise her with not only treats, but with surprises that far surpass what she receives each day. (I would show you the one I made but is wrapped up and ready to go!) You can find the pattern here: Sugar House Shop
I will include these ideas (her parents need to pick age related ones of course):
Make cookies for a neighbor.
Feed the homeless.
Send letters to people you love.
Call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while.
Tell someone you are sorry.
Say a prayer for a different person each day.
Have a fundraiser and donate the money to charity.
Create handmade gifts for your family and friends.
Give an unused toy (or two) to a child in need.
A few other ways to celebrate the Season of Advent –
Get a Bible study with personal reflection.
Sing Christmas songs and pay attention to the words.
Decorate your house and tree.
Read the story of Jesus’ birth.
No matter which you choose…the Season of Advent is the time for us to prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of Jesus and the second coming of Christ.
It is a time for us to look past this dark world and remember who has it all under control.
It is a time for you to reflect on your own life and figure out where changes need to made so that you are living a life worthy of your heavenly Father.
Merry Merry Christmas to you and everyone that you love (and even the ones that you don't).
Need some additional resources? Check out the following posts about God and Faith.
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My 2022 Holiday Planner is just what you need to keep organized and on top of things during this busy season. And, it's FREE.
INCLUDED - My Party Planner! Put your party hat on and plan with confidence! Grab yours before they are gone!
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