Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st of December to Christmas Day). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
There are three meanings of ‘coming’ that Christians describe in Advent. The first, and most thought of, happened about 2000 years ago when Jesus came into the world as a baby to live as a man and die for us. The second can happen now as Jesus wants to come into our lives now. And the third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back to the world as King and Judge, not a baby.
No one is really sure when Advent was first celebrated, but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December leading up to Christmas. Can you imagine?
In medieval and pre-medieval times, in parts of England, there was an early form of Nativity scenes called ‘advent images’. It was a box, often with a glass lid that was covered with a white napkin that contained two dolls representing Mary and the baby Jesus. The box was decorated with ribbons and flowers (and sometimes apples). They were carried around from door to door. It was thought to be very unlucky if you hadn’t seen a box before Christmas Eve! People paid the box carriers a half-penny to see the box.
At Waters of Life we light an Advent Candle each week celebrating Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. A family from the congregation lights the candle after we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, then there is a brief Call to Worship and opening prayer. Traditions past and present help each of us prepare our hearts for Christmas. May you and your families find Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Advent and Christmas Season.
Waters of Life, Pastor