What is Advent?
Advent is the beginning of the church's liturgical year. It is a reminder of the centuries before the birth of Christ as people waited for the prophecies to come true. There are four weeks in the season of Advent, counting back from Christmas Day. Each week has a theme. As we prepare our hearts, minds, and surroundings for Christmas, we remember that we are still waiting, but this time, for Christ's return.
Christmas and Epiphany
Christmas is the actual day we celebrate the birthday of Christmas. This falls on December 25. The "12 days of Christmas" refers to the time beginning with Christmas until Epiphany. Epiphany is January 6 which celebrate the arrival of the Wise men bringing a gift.
The Advent Wreath
This is one of the most noticeable symbols of Advent.
The wreath is made of evergreens such as holly, ivy and other types of greens.
They are a reminder of the everlasting life found with Jesus.
It is in a never-ending circle, symbolizing eternal life.
There are candles, three purple candles and one pink, located around the wreath. In the center of the wreath is a larger white one. Each Sunday, we light a different candle, usually with readings that explain the meanings of the candles.
The first candle, a purple one, stands for HOPE.
It reminds us of the hope of those that waited for the birth in the past, and one day, return of Jesus.
The second candle, also purple, stands for PEACE. It reminds us of the peace found when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Wr;. light both .the hope and peace condles the second week of Advent.
The third candle is pink and stands for JOY, symbolizing the joy of a life with Christ. The third Sunday of Advent, we light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the last purple candle. It stands for LOVE, and reminds us of the love shown by God when He sent His Son, Jesus, for our sake, so that we might have eternal life with sins forgiven. It also reminds us of the lessons of love Jesus taught. We light the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love.
The large white candle is called the Christ Candle. Located in the center, it reminds us that Christ should be the center of our lives. We light it on Christmas Eve to symbolize that Jesus, the Light of the World, has finally arrived.
Lighting Advent Candle
L: As the season of Advent begins we celebrate hope.
P: We know that through the birth of a tiny and helpless child,
God is coming to save the world.
L: While we watch and wait for Jesus to arrive, we join in God's mission by bringing grace and mercy to those who need it most.
P: We engage the poor and the poor in spirit, letting Christ's light shine through us.
L: We speak words of comfort and love to a world in need of healing
as we share our stories of God's transforming Spirit.
P: Together, we are a sign of God's hope for the world. (The candle is lit)
L: Let us pray:
P: God of surprising grace, when we least expect it you bring fresh new life; and where we feel that all is lost, you bring redemption. Give us courage as we share all you have done, all you are doing, and all you will accomplish through Jesus Christ. Amen.
A candle is Burning
(sung to the tune of "Away in a Manger")
A Candle is burning, a flame warm and bright,
A Candle of HOPE in November's dark night
While angles sing blessings from Heaven's starry sky,
Our hearts we prepare now for Jesus is nigh.
Did you find the scriptures a wee bit strange this morning?
(Webmaster's note please find the scripture readings below)
Think about it for a moment--on the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new year for us Christians and the scripture readings bring us the END of TIME (apocalypse.) nothing at all is associated with the nativity. Most about the Second coming and the End of Time.
Our preparations for the coming of the Christ Child begin with a heart stopping passage that predicts the end of world. Or does It??
The “end of time” appears so many times in our Bible: we find it in the book of Daniel, in Paul’s letters, in Mark, in Luke and in the Book of Revelations.
This morning Paul’s letter to the Romans is telling us to prepare for the “end of the present age.” In the bible story we find several incidents I’m sure the people involved thought was an end of times
-The Israelites conquered-- sent into exile—forsaken—I’m sure for them it seemed like the end of time.
-Jesus died- the end had come-now what are the disciples going to do.
-Jerusalem and the temple destroyed in 70 A.D--- the new church thought it must be end.
-Today is a period of wars, famines, earthquakes and hurricane climate change--people’s thoughts turn to end time.
Matthew speaks of the not knowing “what day the Lord will come- ----some people call it “the second coming” so be prepared”.
If we look closely, we discover the appearance of Jesus happened many times and the coming of Christ was never an END of TIME but always the start a new era or new beginning!
- Christ comes to the Jewish people challenging the purity Code and old traditions with a New Gospel.--
- after his execution, Christ comes to his disciples at Pentecost --the start of a new church.
-Christ comes to Paul on the road to Damascus.
-Each year, for over 2000 years we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world at Christmas.
We have nothing to fear about the “end of time” maybe we can say a new era has begun.
We bring in this new era by starting the Christian Year with our Advent Season. We light our first candle on the Advent wreath it seems not a second too soon--and each week of Advent we light another candle---its dark outside--so we light another candle—yet still the darkness persists. There seems no break in the darkness and the WAITING--people start to get depressed.
This Advent there is a special need for some light to lead us out of the Darkness, especially when we are so caught up with our busy life—our fears –our anxieties.
Our concerns over Gov’t. Pension Plans---waiting times for surgery—having enough doctors and nurses—schools in our communities---future of farming in the valley—the Quebec Charter--climate change—wars-- no wonder we can easily forget the meaning of Advent.
In the midst of this fear and uncertainty we light an Advent candle each week to brighten our pathway to stable on Christmas Eve.
During the four weeks of Advent---we recall GOD’S PROMISE TO BRING JUSTICE AND HEALING TO OUR TROUBLED WORLD.
Each Sunday we pray, “THY KINGDOM COME THY WILL BE DONE,
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”
We have faith, but WAITING for this Kingdom of peace and happiness is a bit much! We get frustrated, but, we’re told God’s time is not our time! We talk in years, God talks in millenniums.
It seems there is not much we can do but WAIT. Join with all the others -- Waiting for the Kingdom to come!
We human beings are not good at waiting- Rather than wait we prefer to reach out--grasp what we want –either that or drop it from our list and move on.
We like action---earning--- buying--- selling--- building--- planting--- driving--- baking--- making things happen.
WAITING—that’s another ball game, it’s about--stopping--- sitting---listening---looking---wondering---praying---pretty helpless feeling waiting for someone who didn’t arrive when we expected—maybe we got our schedules mixed up--what to do-- do we wait or go home?
Advent is all about waiting for that “long expected Jesus” to remind us of God’s promise. Surely after all this WAITING, God must mean to set the “world right “in the not too distant future.
I find it interesting how we tend to be shaped by whatever it is we are WAITING for. Look what happened this past Friday--
BLACK FRIDAY certainly attests to how WAITING affected shoppers.
The TV news showed long lines waiting for hours to be first into the big stores—the Wal-Marts and Targets.
--People were trampled to the ground by the crowds rushing to be first in the store.
--We witnessed women and men actually battling over an items they both wanted
.—We saw Store security wrestling shoppers to the ground.
I’m sure it was brought on by the long WAIT and the ANTICIPATION of being first and getting the best bargain—it created a shopper frenzy.
And now the “wait for Boxing Day Sales!” -- only to repeat the same madness.
It’s interesting, when we want something badly enough, our whole life tends to rearrange itself around that object.
About a month ago, I decided to change my car-all I talked about was cars- I searched the internet for prices —watched every car passing by—at night instead of counting the usual sheep it was cars!! Sharon said I wasn’t fit to live with!!
I recall when I was a teenager, that’s going back a few decades, --but I still remember WAITING for “independence,” I stayed out late-took up smoking-sulked about the house--I became a miserable kid—I just wanted to get away from the clutches of my parents—to live my own life by my own rules.
How about you?-- What are you waiting for?-- How is it shaping your life?
Are you waiting for healing, for love-- could it be retirement--or enough money to pay the bills- it might be a baby, purchasing a new house. –maybe starting a new job.
Most Christians tell me they are WAITING for God’s Kingdom of JUSTICE AND LOVE to happen they are getting tired of all this waiting.
The Bible tells us:
"The days are coming, when I will fulfill the promise I made…. the promise to bring justice and righteousness to the world.”
But what does a promise mean when we watch the news or read the paper and discover that senseless horrors continue throughout the world; and seem to be increasing-- the crime—starvation—terrorism-- war and earthquakes and floods abound.
The scriptures reads “when God makes a promise, it’s a promise kept.”
Jesus tells us not get caught up so totally in the everyday things or the big tragedies that we lose sight of the larger scheme,---we fail to see God’s GRACE in the world-- we fail to see the presence of God’s Kingdom that surrounds us with all its HOPE - all its promise.
Jesus invites us to look within to find the Kingdom of God, “open our eyes and ears” and choose to participate in the Kingdom NOW--not in some heaven at the END of TIME!!
We don’t have to wait until all the problems of the world are solved or our earthly life is ended,
— we can embrace the love of God, RIGHT NOW.
---we can embrace the teachings of Jesus, RIGHT NOW.
---we can embrace God’s Grace and enter God’s Kingdom x RIGHT NOW.
When we surrender to God--A new heaven and a new earth will come upon us – a heaven and earth of everlasting hope-peace-joy and love.
Today as we begin our journey through ADVENT Season we prepare ourselves to work with God –caring for the needy—bring hope to the lonely—peace where there is conflict—bring joy too children in every corner of the world.
Then we can REJOICE in the light radiating from the Christ Child and say to all our friends our ADVENT SEASON was truly an ADVENTURE!
The Message (MSG)
Climb God’s Mountain
1-5 The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem:
There’s a day coming
when the mountain of God’s House
Will be The Mountain--
solid, towering over all mountains.
All nations will river toward it,
people from all over set out for it.
They’ll say, “Come,
let’s climb God’s Mountain,
go to the House of the God of Jacob.
He’ll show us the way he works
so we can live the way we’re made.”
Zion’s the source of the revelation.
God’s Message comes from Jerusalem.
He’ll settle things fairly between nations.
He’ll make things right between many peoples.
They’ll turn their swords into shovels,
their spears into hoes.
No more will nation fight nation;
they won’t play war anymore.
Come, family of Jacob,
let’s live in the light of God.
The Message (MSG)
11-14 But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
The Message (MSG)
36 “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
37-39 “The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah’s. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.
39-44 “The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.