As I write this, it is the day before the first Sunday of Advent. But what is Advent? I don’t want to just assume that everyone knows what Advent is. Even within the church, there are some who are familiar with Advent and others less so. I grew up in the Anglican church and we followed the liturgical calendar, with Advent being an important part of it. Many evangelical churches do not emphasize or even mention Advent.
So what is Advent?
Advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The word ‘Advent’ is Latin for ‘Coming’ and it is meant to prepare us for the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. Celebrating Advent probably goes back at least to the sixth century AD.
There are different ways to observe Advent. One of the things that we do at our church is have an Advent wreath. This wreath has five candles. We have a reading that helps prepare us to reflect on what it means for Jesus to come into the world and then we light one of the first four candles on each of the four Sundays of Advent. We then light the centre candle, called the Christ candle, on Christmas Eve.
The lighting of candles is meaningful as Jesus’ birth is very much about God sending his light into this dark world. The lighting of the candles is a visual reminder of a theological truth.
Advent is really one of my favourite times of the year. Although our church is not overly liturgical, it is a nice way to reflect on the greatest miracle of all time.