Advent and preparing for Christ’s return
Published 8:29 pm Friday, December 22, 2017
In the scramble to get everything done for the holidays, I sometimes worry that I am putting too much effort in the preparing rather than the enjoying of the season.
However, I do feel justified in my “making ready” when I think about the season of Advent.
I am a United Methodist, and in my church Advent is the time of year in our liturgical calendar where we focus on preparing and anticipating the coming of Christ.
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Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day and ends Christmas Eve, and many churches, like mine, mark the passage of the four weeks with an Advent wreath.
The wreath, shaped in a perfect circle, symbolizes the eternity of God.
At Crawford Street United Methodist Church, our advent wreath holds five candles with three purple, one pink and one white center candle.
Each Sunday leading up to Christmas Eve, we light a candle with the first representing Hope. The second purple candle that we light the following week represents Love, and the third purple candle we light on the next week represents Joy.
On the fourth week, the pink candle will be lit, and it represents Peace.
The fifth white candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve, represents Jesus, the light of the world.
Advent, comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning “coming,” and according to a United Methodist website umcdiscipleship.org, there are a number of historic and traditional themes observed during the season of advent, some of which include preparing to celebrate the coming of Christ, the coming of the Messiah to the Jews, the coming of Jesus into the world at Bethlehem, the second coming of Jesus in final victory and the continual coming of Jesus into the hearts and lives of believers.
On the final day of Advent at CSUMC, we hold a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service as do many other churches in our community, and for me, this is one of the most beautiful and spiritual services I attend.
During the worship service, we will sing hymns, light all five candles, listen to a brief sermon and then receive communion.
Afterwards, when everyone has returned to their seats from receiving the sacraments, the lights in the church will be dimmed.
Before the service and before everyone took their seats in the sanctuary, they were each handed a candle in the narthex of the church, and these candles will be lit by an acolyte at this last part of the service.
The acolytes will light their candle lighters from the Christ Candle, the center white candle of the Advent Wreath, and then go down the aisles of the church and light the candles of those seated on the end of the pews. These worshippers will then in turn to light the candle of the person who is seated next to them until everyone’s candles are lit.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at email@example.com.