Entering the Season of Advent
The celebration of the season of Advent (which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day) dates back to the fourth century. It is a time that focuses our attention on Jesus Christ’s birth and ministry as well as his Second Coming when he will return to redeem all of creation and rule with all power and authority. Since we can’t anticipate the day or the hour of Christ’s return, we are filled with both a sense of joyful expectation and humble reverence, with our spiritual focus being on lives of prayer and preparation. The church has used the season of Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) to focus and reconnect on the particular themes of John the Baptist’s preparation for the ministry of Christ, the annunciation to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, and the final judgment. Throughout the season we are constantly reminded that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is purple, the color of royalty, to welcome the coming of the King. This points to the important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity and the Incarnation cannot be separated from the crucifixion and the Atonement.
One way that many mark the time of this season is with the Advent wreath. The evergreens symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus Christ. The wreath consists of five candles, four candles around the wreath and one white candle in the center. One candle is lit the first Sunday of Advent, two are lit the second Sunday, and so on. The light progressively reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope (Isa 42:6). Each of the candles usually have a special theme and color. For us, the first candle is the prophecy candle; the second is the Bethlehem candle; the third is the Angels candle; the fourth is the Shepherd candle; and the center white candle is the Christ candle, lit on Christmas. As we move through the weeks of advent we will examine more fully the stories connected to each candle basking in the light of his face shining upon us.
On December 24, Calvary Baptist Church will celebrate the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas with a short Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 5:30p.