Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas shopping season has begun. It is hard to believe that another church year has almost passed and we will begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent on December 2nd. Advent is a wonderful time for Christians because we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Advent is also a chance for us to reflect and see that Christ is already living among us, not only in the love we share but also in our struggles to forgive and to serve one another. Advent reminds us that whatever joys or sorrows we might be experiencing, our lives are changing and growing to greater unity with Christ, as together we live out our Christian life.
Advent also reminds us that we are a part of a Church, a people waiting for the second coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his kingdom. In our many blessings we have a foretaste of that kingdom and in our sorrows, we look ahead in hope. Advent reminds us that we all need a Savior, even as we make stronger the fires of hope in his coming again in glory. Advent, like a mini-Lent reminds us that we have all sinned in word and deed during this past year and offers us an opportunity to reflect on our misdeeds and begin the work of repentance and reconciliation in those relationships where we have caused hurt.
Christ is already a part of our lives and a prayerful and reflective observance of Advent will not only help us prepare for Christmas, it will also make us more aware of the marvelous things the Lord is doing among us right here and now. In your prayers and reflections during this season I would suggest that a useful model to use as your weekly themes might well be our Advent Wreath.
Beginning the First Sunday in Advent we will mark our journey toward Christmas with an Advent Wreath placed at the front of the church. This traditional circular wreath reminds us that God, like the circle, has no beginning and no end. Evergreens on the wreath symbolize our everlasting relationship with God, the source of continuous life. The wreath has five candles. Four candles of color are used, three purple and one rose. Purple, the color of royalty, reflecting our repentance and the kingship of Christ, and the three purple candles represent the hope, love, and peace he brings and gives to us. The rose candle, lit on the third Sunday of Advent represents joy. The fifth candle, located in the center of the wreath, is white and is traditionally called the Christ candle. It is lit on Christmas Eve and reminds us that the incarnation has transformed the darkness of hatred and evil in our broken world into the light of joy and love.
These are the themes which we are called to focus upon during this busy time. May God continue to richly bless each of us with the grace of this Holy Season, and throughout this new year.
Blessings to each of you and your loved ones