Daily Devotions – Advent Meaning

Today I will begin a week-long set of devotions centered on the various meanings of advent symbols that many of us use in our homes.  The more we understand the meanings and history behind the various decorations and symbols in our homes, the more impactful our Advent Journey will be.

ADVENT:  (From UMC.org)

The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.]

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

ADVENT CANDLE:  (from http://www.salvemariaregina.info/Prayers/Advent.html and umc.org) Originating in Germany several hundred years ago, it has become a cherished custom for many families throughout America. Christians preparing for their feast of light found this wreath an appropriate means of doing so. Adding one light for each of the four Sundays in Advent, they think about the darkness without God after the Fall, and the growing hope for salvation, and nourished through the ages by the prophets the coming of the Son on Christmas morning.

The wreath without beginning and end stands for eternity; the evergreens for life and growth; the four candles, represent the ages “sitting in darkness and the shadow of death”, each candle adding more light until Christmas, when the light from the wreath sets off, as it were, the blaze of light on the “tree of life”, the Christmas tree-for the time is fulfilled.

As the Advent of Christ, or “coming,” draws nearer another candle is lit, with each candle dispelling the darkness a little more. Thus, the Advent wreath helps us to spiritually contemplate the great drama of salvation history that surrounds the birth of God Incarnate who comes to redeem the human race.

Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice and is used during Advent and Lent.  Advent, also called “little Lent,” is the season where we spiritually wait in our “darkness” with hopeful expectation for our promised redemption, just as the whole world did before Christ’s birth, and just as the whole world does now as we eagerly await his promised return.

Isaiah 52:7-9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
    who announces salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
    together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
    the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
    you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.