Advent is the first season of the liturgical Year and is the preparation for Christmas. The word advent itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of His second coming. As Israel longed, and still does, for their Messiah to come, so we Christians recognized he did and we long for the Saviour to come again.
Advent while joyous is for some a “small lent” as it is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the eventual return of Christ (and the judgment He will bring to the world). Historically in preparation for baptisms and ordinations that would traditionally take place at Epiphany just after Christmas those presenting themselves would fast during advent, often joined by supportive friends and family.
Churches that observe Advent usually decorate their sanctuaries in the liturgical colour of Advent, purple (or in some cases royal blue). Some churches change the colour to rose on the third or fourth Sunday of Advent to signify a greater emphasis on the joy of the season.
Candles on the Advent Wreath
Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of his son, Jesus. An evergreen wreath is a made in a circle to symbolize the hope of eternal life, Jesus brings us. There are four candles, three purple or red, one rose and a fifth white one in the middle to symbolize Jesus Christ.
The first candle lit today is for Hope; Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at the light of this candle and say the advent prayers we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Hanukkah – The Jewish Festival of Lights.
Like advent Hanukkah is all about Light, and the true Light of the world Jesus, is recorded in the gospels as attending the Hanukkah (re-dedication festival) in the Temple in Jerusalem. I love the story of Hanukkah and lighting the candles that shine out hope to the world. It starts tonight just after sunset when the servant candle is lit and then the first of the Hanukkah candles for the first night of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is actually the celebration of a miracle that occurred between the writing of the Old and New Testaments. The story is all written in the Apocrypha books of the Maccabees. The true meaning of the miracle being God showing he was still with his people and watching over them even though he was no longer sending them prophets and seemed to be silent. He was through sending prophets; he was preparing to send His Son.