Sisters and Brothers,

For Christians who observe the liturgical calendar, Advent marks the start of the liturgical year. The word advent comes from the Latin for coming. During this season, the church focusses on Christ’s coming. The four Sundays before the Nativity are the four Sundays of Advent which are a time of preparation for the Nativity, the birth of the Christ child, often referred to as Christ’s First Coming or Advent. The Old Testament readings from the prophets relate to the expectation of a promised Messiah.  Advent is also a time to focus intensely on preparation for the Lord’s return at the end, often referred to as Christ’s Second Coming or Advent.

Two words are key to the church’s observance of Advent. They are wait and hope. We wait on the Lord, waiting actively, by being engaged in God’s mission in the world. That, in essence, is how we prepare for Christ’s coming as King and Judge. We live in the hope that Christ will come again, and Advent draws this to our attention.

It is usual to celebrate Advent, marking the Sundays by the lighting of the Advent candles. We share in liturgy that has been prepared for the season.

This year, as we are worshipping at home, it is a good idea to make your own Advent wreath (if this is not already part of your family tradition). You can find ideas and inspiration on the internet to make your own wreath; so you’ll be able to light your candle(s)- at home during worship on the first, second, third and fourth Lord’s Days of Advent, as well as on Christmas Day (Festival of the Nativity) when we light the white Christ candle.

One of the four candles in the advent wreath is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second (beginning with the one that was lit the previous Sunday), and so on. The individual Advent candles symbolise hope, love, joy and peace. The four are usually purple; but in some wreaths the peace candle is pink. The fifth candle, usually in the centre, is white- the Christ candle representing Jesus the Light of the world.

Joan Delsol Meade