Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. In 2017, Christmas falls on a Monday, and Christmas Eve on Sunday night. Thus, in 2017 Advent begins Sunday, December 3, and ends the morning of Sunday, December 24 three weeks plus a portion of an additional day.
Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning “coming.” It is a season to prepare for the coming of Christ in various meanings: the promised coming of the Messiah to the Jews, the coming of Jesus being born in Bethlehem, the promised return of the risen Christ in final victory, and the continual coming of Christ into the lives and hearts of believers.
Advent, which marks the beginning of the liturgical year, is part of the cycle of seasons that includes Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, all related in some fashion to the coming of Jesus. That cycle is followed by Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and the long Pentecost season.
Advent began in France in the fourth century. In various times and locations of the church, it has been observed for three, four, and six weeks leading to Christmas.
The color for Advent has traditionally been purple. Some churches, including Lakewood this year, have adopted blue, the color of hope.
There are a number of historic and traditional themes observed during Advent:
- 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.
- The continual coming of Jesus into the hearts and lives of believers.
I would encourage each of you to use the guide found here, 2017 Advent Home Worship to help you and your family prepare for celebrating Jesus’ birth. It includes daily small devotions and activities including instructions on preparing your own advent wreath!