“Christmas isn’t just a temporal celebration or the memory of a beautiful (event); Christmas is more … Christmas is an encounter!” – Pope Francis
The season of Advent is upon us. A season of expectation leading up to Christmas Day. But what are we expecting? I am going to avoid ragging about the pressure current celebrations add to this expectation, but rather focus on the roots of the Advent Season. From there, we can decide now, today, what our expectations are.
Where The Advent Season Started
A quick google of the history of the Advent Season brings up a lot of interesting things. For instance:
- Its beginnings were in the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul (France).
- The season was not initially associated with Christmas. Rather it was a time of preparation for new Christians to be baptized during the Feast of Epiphany in January
- In the 6th century, Roman Christians tied the Advent Season in anticipation of the second coming of Christ.
- In the Middle Ages, it came to be a celebration of Jesus’ first coming into the world as the Christ Child.
Today, depending on the camp in which a Believer sits, the Advent Season celebrates the first coming of the Lord as well as the expectation of His second coming as King.
The four Sundays prior to Christmas comprise the season of Advent. Many use an Advent Wreath with five candles, one lit on each Sunday, with the fifth lit on Christmas Eve.
Then as each candle is lit, a portion of the Christmas Story is remembered:
- The first candle is the “Prophet’s Candle” representing hope. The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.
- Bethlehem is the birthplace of King David. Thus the second candle is called “the Bethlehem Candle”. It represents faith.
- Then the third candle symbolizing joy, is the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for the humble, those without voice. Liturgically, the color rose signifies joy.
- The fourth candle is the “Angel’s Candle” representing the peace Jesus came to bring peace that God was not angry with mankind.
- Lastly, lit on Christmas Eve or Day, the fifth candle is “Christ’s candle” representing light and purity.
To be honest, there are a lot of voices working hard to take the true light out of this season. So let’s take a few more moments and breathe. What do YOU want this Advent Season to look like? Write it down – now build everything else around that.
Please share what you wrote down in the comments. It will encourage the rest of us! Oh yes, be sure to subscribe by downloading the Free PDF below.