Last Sunday, November 29, marked the beginning of Advent, traditionally the beginning of the church calendar year. The word advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning coming. Advent focuses our worship for the four weeks which precede Christmas on the significance of Christ’s incarnation. Christians began to organize worship around various seasons of the year as early as the second century. In more liturgical churches the entire calendar often revolves around these seasons of the year.
At OGC we celebrate a tradition in Advent worship involving the lighting of an Advent wreath. Each Sunday before Advent, as well as on Christmas Eve, different individuals/families lead us in the lighting ceremony with appropriate readings from Scripture. An Advent wreath communicates many powerful things. Its circular form stands for the eternity of God. The burning candles represent Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12). The evergreens in the wreath speak to eternal life. The use of colored candles originated in Eastern Germany prior to the Reformation. Traditionally, the three purple candles symbolize the penitence due from sinners at the prospect of Christ’s coming. The single pink or rose candle calls for joy at the idea of the Son of God incarnate. And the white candle in the center, of course, points to Jesus Christ in all His purity and power.
May I encourage you this year, as in previous years, to form an intentional strategy for making the most of this coming Advent season? Without a plan we can easily fall prey to a worldly tis-the-season-to-be-frantic kind of December that leaves us at best exhausted and at worst resentful.
For the next several days I will post some thoughts for how to make the most of the Advent season now upon us. The first of those is this:
Refuse to abandon time for reflection, worship, and contemplative disciplines. Mary, the mother of our Lord, excelled as one who kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Determine to hold a tenacious line against the tyranny of the urgent and give yourself to the priority of seeing the unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).
May the Lord help us to treasure in our hearts the deep things of God that accompany this joyous season where we celebrate Immanuel, God with us.