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“Behold…they shall call His name Emmanuel,
which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
The Christmas season is upon us once again. In the life of the Christian Church, this most wonderful of seasons begins with the celebration of Advent. Advent is a season of four weeks, including Sundays. Its name is derived from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming.”
The season proclaims the three “comings” of Christ – past (whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again), present (who comes continually in Word and Spirit), and future (whose physical return in final victory we anticipate.)
Advent is full of symbolism. Symbols are tangible word pictures that appeal to our senses – sight, touch, sound, hearing and taste – and as such, help us to experience and understand the simple truths of the gospel. A symbol communicates something that is more than what is seen by sight. It makes that which is invisible – visible. It makes that which is intangible – tangible. For example a wedding ring is much more that a beautiful hunk of metal. It speaks of loyalty, wholeness, love, and preciousness.
Greenery, candles and wreaths are used to celebrate Advent. The very first Advent wreaths were probably used in the home, where a spray of evergreen was placed near the hearth to remind everyone of the everlasting life found in Christ. In the heart of winter, while most of nature slept, the greenery symbolized the continuation of life. Soon the boughs of the spray were bent and bound together in a circle, which symbolized life without end.
The wreath of today, used in church and home, combines the circle of evergreens with four candles that are lighted progressively on each Sunday of Advent. The significance of the four candles lies in that progressive illumination—light out of darkness. Lighting the candles helps us remember the One who said, “I am the light of the world.” We gather in our homes and churches and light candles and hang greenery in anticipation of this glorious event.
Each Sunday of Advent has its distinctive theme and can vary according to tradition. Such themes can include celebrating Christ as our Hope, Way, Joy, Peace, Preparation, Light, and Love. Traditionally, the advent observance culminates with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas Day symbolizing the fulfillment of God’s promise to send His Son to be our Savior and to remind us that Christ is still waiting to come into our hearts.
Advent is a time to get ready. It is a time for planning and for forming new attitudes. It is a time of anticipation and waiting. It is a time to celebrate the most perfect Gift of all - God’s Son, Jesus Christ - Emmanuel - God with us!
What great news! This Christmas season, I invite you to join the prayer of the beloved, “Come, Lord Jesus, for there is room in my heart for You.”
As always, see you next time and have a great day…