Advent means “coming” in Latin. In Greek, it is translated from parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of the Messiah. It is a season of preparation, to prepare the way of the Lord.
The traditions of Advent include the color of dark “royal” purple or Sarum blue (from the Medieval Sarum rite). Both symbolize preparation, penitence and royalty. An Advent wreath is a green wreath with candles (purple or blue), one for each of the four Sundays. The third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudette (“Rejoice,” from an ancient antiphon based on Philippians 4:4) Sunday, has an especially joyous emphasis, so often the candle on the wreath is rose or pink as a symbol of joy. A fifth, white candle, the Christ candle, is often added in the center when Christ is born in our hearts again, on Christmas.
The function of Advent is to remind us who God is and who we are meant to be as well.
The cry of Advent, Wake up! Be alert! Watch for his coming!” is difficult amidst the busyness of the season. We can practice some simple, but not easy, disciplines. Pray the Lord’s Prayer with conviction: “your kingdom come, your will be done.”
- If Jesus revealed God’s will and kingdom, how do I witness to that reality?
- What is it that you are waiting for?
- What are your dreams as you contemplate the coming of the fullness of God’s reign?
An Outline of the Faith
Commonly called the Catechism, this is an outline of instruction cast in the tradition question and answer form. It is a point of departure for exploring the beliefs and practices of The Episcopal Church. The following areas are especially appropriate to study during this season. It begins on page 845 of the BCP.
- The Old Covenant
- God the Son
- The Christian Hope
God promised the Hebrew people that they would be his people and bring all the nations of the world to him. During Advent, we recall the prophets who continually call us back to God. Our response should be to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8). Are you a social justice Christian?
Reflection on God’s action in daily life
The function of Advent is to remind us who God is and who we are meant to be, as well. Advent is about the richness of emptiness. God’s coming to the world as an infant, born in a stable, from humble beginnings. In our secular culture, a tone of wanting more, spending more, and accumulating riches on earth surround us. Practice some simple, but not easy, disciplines.
- Fast from the media – be alert to the still small voice of God.
- Focus on giving myself to God.
- Spend time apart from the busyness of this season.
Things to Do
- Download this list of resources for Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany 2015-16, which includes instructions for the below items, and more.
- Make an Advent Calendar to mark the days
- Construct an Advent Wreath and use it weekly or daily with bible readings
- Plan and keep an Advent discipline, perhaps daily bible reading and reflection with prayer time
- Create a “Giving Tree” for your family that encourages giving to others (read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein)