“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 well underway, 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 really 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:
- It’s beginnings were in the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain a 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.
We celebrate Advent the four Sundays prior to Christmas. Many use an Advent Wreath with five candles, one to be lit on each Sunday, with the fifth lit on Christmas Eve. 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.
- The second candle represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle:. Micah foretold the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David.
- The third candle symbolizes joy, is the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, those without voice. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy, thus this candle is pink.
- The fourth candle is the “Angel’s Candle” representing the peace Jesus came to bring peace that God was not angry with mankind.
- The fifth candle is “Christ’s candle” representing light and purity. It is lit on Christmas Eve or Day.
Even though we are well into the Advent season, it would be good to take a pause and reflect on these attributes. Let them refresh your preparations and nourish your soul. Take a few more moments and breathe.
What do you REALLY want this Advent Season to look like? Write it down – now build everything else around that. Please share your thoughts in the comments! Let’s encourage each other.