Celebrating Advent

The first Christmas after our wedding, my husband and I began to discuss traditions that we wanted our family to have.   Growing up in church, we knew about advent through the lighting of the candles each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.  But we wanted to know more of the meaning behind advent and to bring it into our home.   This is what we found:

Advent is distinguished by a spirit of great anticipation and longing… a cry for deliverance from this world of sin and eagerly awaiting Christ’s return.   It’s also a time of commemorating Jesus’ first coming and reflecting upon all that He has given to us.

A typical advent wreath has three purple candles, a rose colored candle, and a white Christ-candle in the center. (of course, it’s rare to find these on the field… we’re happy to just find 5 candles!)  Purple is the color of repentance and fasting as well as royalty to welcome the coming of the King.  Purple is also the color of suffering.  As we look to Christ’s birth and second coming, we cannot separate these from His death and resurrection.  The pink candle is lit the third Sunday before Christmas and symbolizes joy!

The wreath itself (circle) symbolizes God Himself.  He is eternal and His mercy never ends.  And the light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world!  He comes into the darkness of this world and into our lives and brings us new life and hope.  The light is also a reminder to us to live as children of light and to reflect God’s character to others.  As each candle is lit over the four weeks, we are reminded of this time of waiting and anticipation.  With each passing week, the light shines brighter and the darkness is less.  When the Christ candle is lit on Christmas day, we are reminded clearly that the Light has come into the world and that He fulfills his promises.

Each week/candle also holds a theme.   The first candle of Advent is the candle of Hope; the second is the candle of Peace; the third is the candle of Joy; the fourth is the candle of Love.  As a family, we choose scriptures and songs that coincide with these themes throughout that particular week.  On the Sunday when we introduce the new theme, we invite our neighbor over to join us.  The other nights of the week, we celebrate either as a family or as a couple after our daughter goes to bed (we want her to be a part of the tradition, but it can be distracting to have her join us every night!)

I love celebrating advent in these weeks preceding Christmas.  Despite whatever else is going on, I feel like it keeps bringing me back to Christ and who He is… and the true meaning of this wonderful season!

Does your family celebrate advent? Would you like to share some special ways that your family celebrates this joyous season of anticipation?

(Post by: Jami)


7 Responses to “Celebrating Advent”

  1. 1 Shilo December 10, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    We started the Jesse Tree last year. I love it…how all of creation and history was leading up to Redemption!
    Thanks for the info on the Advent Wreath, I confess I didn’t know much about it!

  2. 2 Vicky December 10, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing the meaning behind this celebration. I did a super easy take on the advent calendar this year that might be helpful to any of you who may not have access to the traditional materials out on the field. hope it may help- http://thecitycradle.com/homemade-modern-advent-wreath

  3. 3 Addie December 11, 2009 at 4:53 am

    Thanks for this information about advent. My family hasn’t celebrated it, but I would love to begin doing so!

  4. 4 RebeccaC December 11, 2009 at 5:02 am

    We celebrated advent until we came to Mexico. Unfortunately, it’s not very “culturally acceptable” for Christians to celebrate advent. Most folks here see it as pretty Catholic. I think, though, that we could get away with it now that we have more time here and can really express ourselves (now that language isn’t such a barrier). I had thought a couple of weeks ago about pulling out my old advent candle holders. Hmmm. I think I might just do that. Of course, I won’t be hunting around trying to find colored candles. I think I’ll just tie colored ribbons around them or something.

    Thanks for the reminder, Ashley! Happy advent season!!!! :^)

  5. 5 Ashley L. December 12, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I so enjoy hearing all about your traditions, families, and the cultures where you celebrate! We haven’t celebrated advent a ton in the past, mostly for lack of knowledge about the tradition, but we started a few traditions this year. We do a daily advent time with our kids that is fun and meaningful and helps us focus on Jesus throughout the season. We just choose different stories from kids’ Bibles or songs or just talk and pray together. The kids also get a little treat out of our advent calendar that holds M&Ms inside. This post is so helpful to me because I now know so much more about the meaning behind the tradition and look forward to making our celebration more focused and meaningful as a result.

    Oh, and Rebecca, I also love this post too, but actually it was Jami who wrote it so I can’t take any credit! =)

    Happy advent everyone!

  6. 6 Phyllis December 14, 2009 at 8:29 am

    We love Advent! So far, what we have done has been very much for our children, but I love Jami’s older (ageless!) ideas here. This year we’re doing a Jesse tree with Ann Voskamp’s book. Just search the internet for her name and The Glorious Coming, and you’ll find it, if you’re interested. Or come read my blog. 🙂

  7. 7 Susan December 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    We love doing our little advent wreath together as a family too. Although we are always a little behind, but eventually our candles get lit and verses read. It is a simple thing to do but helps keep our focus on JESUS.

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