Advent is the beginning of the Church Calendar. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday closest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve.
The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” This is the focus of the entire season, the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Advent is a season of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, and longing. It is hope that God brings to the world a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.
The Advent wreath is a popular Advent tradition. The Lighting of the Advent candles represents the promise of the coming of Jesus, the light of the world. A simple wreath made of evergreen is adorned with four candles equidistant from each other. These candles may be of any color: they are sometimes all white but can correspond to the liturgical colors of the four Sundays of Advent (three purple and one pink). The wreath symbolizes the crown-like character, to remind us of Jesus. The circular shape reminds us “fulfillment of time” that both Comings bring about.
The candles represent:
1st Sunday of Advent – The first candle symbolizes “HOPE”. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep his promises to us.
2nd Sunday of Advent – The second candle reminds us that Jesus, the Prince of “PEACE”, came to bring us spiritual peace.
3rd Sunday of Advent – The third candle reminds us of the “JOY” we have in Jesus
4th Sunday of Advent – The fourth candle reminds us of the “LOVE” God has for humanity.
Christmas Eve / Christmas Day – The fifth candle is white, the Christ candle, to represent the purity of “CHRIST”, the spotless, sinless Lamb of God and of his coming.
Christmas – info coming soon
Epiphany – info coming soon
Lent is a forty-day liturgical season that leads up
to the most sacred part of the Christian year, Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.
Sundays are not included in the forty-day count of Lent because every Sunday is a joyful celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.
The number 40 is historically a significant number in Jewish history. It occurs frequently in both testaments of the bible. For example, it rained 40 days and nights during the Great Flood in Genesis, Moses communed with God on Mount Sinai for 40 days before receiving the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and the most notable is the 40 days Christ was in the desert being tested by the devil. Forty signifies the time that is required for discipline, testing and separation prior to achieving a goal or new beginning.
Since Lent is a season of penitence, and reflection, worship during this time is solemn and restrained. The words “Alleuia” and joyous songs are removed from worship. The somber colors of purple and black are used. Purple, the color of royalty and repentance is the traditional color for the season of Lent. Black, a somber color of mourning and sorrow, is reserved for Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.
The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week. During this holiest time of the liturgical year, the church remembers the final week of our Lord’s life. This week includes Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter where Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Maundy Thursday commemorates the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples. Good Friday commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus. Culminating with Easter Sunday and the Resurrection.