One of our family traditions during December is reading an Advent devotion together as a family. I enjoy Advent as it is a time to slow down the busyness of the day during the Christmas holiday and refocus my attention on the meaning of the “CHRIST”mas season.
What is Advent?
Advent comes from the Latin adventus and means “coming.” It’s a time to prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, while at the same time eagerly looking forward to His coming return.
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens forming a never-ending circle, signifying continuous life. The wreath is attributed to Martin Luther. Four candles (three purple and one pink/rose) are placed on the wreath, representing the four Sundays of Advent. A fifth white candle is placed in the center of the wreath.
- Advent’s 1st Sunday symbolizes HOPE and the first purple candle is known as the PROPHECY candle.
- Advent’s 2nd Sunday symbolizes FAITH and the second purple candle is the BETHLEHEM candle. On the second Sunday light two purple candles, both of which are relit each night.
- Advent’s 3rd Sunday symbolizes JOY and the pink/rose candle known as the SHEPHERD’s candle. The third week light the two purple candles and then a rose candle
- Advent’s 4th Sunday symbolizes PEACE and last purple candle is the ANGEL candle. All four candles are lit each night during the week to symbolize the growing brightness of Jesus’ coming as He is the light of the world.
- Christmas Eve and Day concludes the Advent season by lighting all four candles plus the white center candle which symbolizes PURITY and is the CHRIST candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death; his death was for our birth!
NOTE: The candle symbolism , order, and names differ among many.
When Does Advent Begin?
The four weeks of Advent, beginning the Sunday nearest November though midnight Christmas Eve. The weeks represent the four great “comings” of Christ. The first is His coming in the flesh, His birth, which we celebrate on Christmas Day. The second is His coming into the hearts of all who believe in Him. The third is His coming at the hour of death to the faithful, and the fourth is His coming at the final judgment.
I find myself enjoying this family tradition more each year as I reflect on the rich symbolisms, the fulfilled prophecies, and the names of my Messiah. Advent is so much more than a tradition as it is a time of spiritual cleansing and growth in Christ.
There are so many great Advent resources available and it doesn’t matter what you use so long as it works for your family. This year we are using Bartholomew’s Passage by Arnold Ytreeide, Adornments by Family Life Today, and A Family Advent, Keeping the Savior in the Season.
Jon has been in Portland this week but faithfully he has Skyped us to read Bartholomew’s Passage.
Why the different colored Candles?
Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent, symbolizing prayer, repentance, preparing, and fasting. Purple is also the color of royalty, demonstrating the anticipation and reception of the coming King celebrated during Advent. Pink or rose is one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday. Pink represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration. Indeed incredible joy awaits us with the arrival of the Christ chile. White is the color at the center, representing purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
This season I hope you and your family will draw closer to Christ as He loves you so much. He came humbly as a child and died to give you life. My hope is that by understanding what Advent is and the rich symbolism behind it your heart will experience the magic of Christmas anew. May an Advent tradition helps us not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the Season. Blessings.