To celebrate Advent is to focus our thoughts on waiting. In Latin, the word advent means “to come”; for the early church Advent was a time of reflection and expectation prior to Christmas (which was celebrated December 25 to January 6). This quiet reflection can be difficult in a culture of hyper consumerism; disciplined stillness is not something the culture of the modern Santa Claus can comprehend.
Advent is a time of waiting that focuses on Christ’s threefold coming, past, present and future: how He was the longed-for incarnate Wisdom of God born in a foolish stable long ago; how we cry for Him to come to us through His Spirit and the Word today; and how we wait for Him to come in visible power and make everything right on earth one day.
Advent is not yet Christmas, where we celebrate that He is here! Advent is that in-between stage, that four hundred years of silence stage, that place where we say “Come, Jesus”. Come and illuminate us, come shine light in our darkness, bring truth to our futility-darkened minds, bring hope into our despair. We long, we wait, and we yearn, because He has not yet arrived.
The historical church has some wonderful traditions that help people focus their thoughts during this season, and perhaps now more than ever we can use those traditions to help direct our contemplation.
One tradition is the reflection on four Advent themes on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. ERBF has done this for several years now. Traditionally the four themes are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
An advent wreath is also another Advent practice. The evergreen wreath (symoblizing Christ's eternal life) has five candles. One is lit for each Advent Sunday. The fifth candle is the Christ candle and is lit Christmas Eve, symbolizing that the Light of the world has finally come.
It is our prayer that you will take the opportunity each Sunday and during the whole month to center your thoughts on Jesus Christ, the coming of God.