Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming") is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday. The Eastern churches begin the liturgical year on 1 September. The Eastern Christian equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast but it differs both in length and observances.
The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic and Lutheran calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.
For more information about Advent, click here.
For suggestions on how to prepare for Advent, click here.
For suggestions on things to do for Advent, click here.
Historically, the candles have no more meaning than a countdown. That is, they originally stood for 4, 3, 2, and 1. However, people like for things in the church to have symbolic meanings, so the candles have gradually acquired the meanings of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. If someone in your church tells you that the candles have some other meaning than Hope, Love, Joy, or Peace, they aren’t wrong, they are just different. The meanings are so new that they aren’t completely standardized.
In some locations, the third candle is pink, in others the fourth candle is pink; in still others, all four candles are purple. The purple candles are lit during Advent, when the liturgical color is purple, and the white candle is lit on Christmas Eve (that is, after sundown), when the liturgical color is white. So that explains the colors of the purple and white candles—they just match the liturgical decor. But what about the pink candle, if there is one?
The pink candle is becoming more and more popular, but it has a strange origin. Long ago, the pope had the custom of giving someone a rose on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This led the Roman Catholic clergy to wear rose-colored vestments on that Sunday. The effect was to give some relief the solemnity of Lent, so this was a very popular custom. Originally—before shopping malls—Advent was a solemn fast in preparation for Christmas, so the custom was extended to the third Sunday in Advent to liven it up a little bit, too. Somewhere in there the third candle of the Advent wreath turned pink. Meanwhile, Advent is no longer solemn and the pope no longer has the custom of giving out roses. It is kind of odd to think that a Methodist would put a pink candle in a Lutheran Advent wreath because the pope used to have the custom of giving out roses, but sometimes we’re a little more ecumenical than we realize!
Remember, if 24 December is a Sunday, it is the Fourth Sunday in Advent until sundown, at which time it becomes Christmas Eve. (Eve means evening, after all!)
SOURCE: Ken Collins' Web Site.
November 30th - First Sunday in Advent
The first Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus’ coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born, The candle’s purple color represents Christ’s royalty as the King of Kings. Suggested Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:2-6 and Luke 1:30-35.
From 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. there will be an Advent Celebration in the Family Life Center with activities for all ages. Plan to join this family event for all ages from little ones to grandparents. Experience this together. Invite your neighbors. All are welcome to come. To see a slide show of the 2013 activities, click here.
December 7th - Second Sunday in Advent
The second candle, lit on the second Sunday of advent is the Bethlehem candle, reminding us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It too is purple, reminding us that it was a King Who was born in the manger. Suggested Bible reading: Micab 5:2 and Luke 2:1-7.
December 14th - Third Sunday in Advent
This year's cantata will be “The Mystery and The Majesty” by Joseph Martin. It will be performed in the sanctuary on December 14th at the 8:30 and 10:45 a.m. services.
From jubilant glorias to gentle manger lullabies, this inspirational cantata celebrates the wonder and splendor of Christmas. Traditional carols and newly composed seasonal anthems blend with thoughtful narration to help create a meaningful experience for your community of faith. Includes: A Christmas Flourish; Carol of Longing; Advent Jubilation; The Coming Joy; A Call to Christmas Joy; Journey to Bethlehem; Upon a Midnight Clear; The Beautiful Impossible; A Noel Proclamation.
To listen to an excerpt from the Cantata entitled "The Beautiful Impossible", click here. It lasts for 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
The third candle is the Shepherds’ candle. We are reminded that God sent the angels to proclaim His arrival to common man and that He still uses ordinary people today to spread the good news of Christ. This candle is pink or rose and represents God’s love and faithfulness. Suggested Bible reading: Isaiah 52:7 and Luke 2:8-20.
December 21st - Fourth Sunday in Advent
The fourth candle is the Angel’s candle. As we light this flame, we are reminded of the heavenly hosts that proclaimed Christ’s arrival with “Behold, I bring unto you good tiding of great joy!” The Angel candle is also purple, reminding us that it was a King’s birth the angels were announcing. Suggested Bible Reading: Ezekiel 34:23, Luke 2:15-20 and John 10:11.
December 24th - Christmas Eve Services
Please join us for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services and Communion. These are beautiful services of music and candlelight in celebration of the birth of Christ. Remember to invite your friends and neighbors to come and worship with us.
6:00 to 6:45 p.m. - Come and Go Communion Service. Nursery available
7:00 p.m. - Candles and Carols Service. Nursery available
11:00 p.m. - Candles, Carols and Communion Service. No nursery
December 25th - Christmas Day
The center candle in an Advent wreath is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Day. However, since many Protestant churches do not have services on those days, many light it on the Sunday preceding Christmas, with all five candles continuing to be lighted in services through Epiphany (Jan 6). The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.
Epiphany (Greek for "to manifest" or "to show"), is a Christian feast day which celebrates the "shining forth" or revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Epiphany falls on January 6th. Western Christians commemorate the visitation of the Magi to the child Jesus on this day, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, his manifestation as the Son of God to the world. It is also called Theophany ("manifestation of God"), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany falls on the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. For more information about Epiphany, click here or here.
Perhaps you have wondered what the items mentioned in the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" have to do with Christmas. To find out, click here.
To learn more about Christmas, click here.
To learn more about the date of Christmas, click here.
For an explanation about why we say "Merry Christmas," click here.
The color for Christmas is white. To learn more about the colors used during the year in the church click here.