Today on Who Knew Wednesday Joe and I shared a bunch of information about the advent season!
We shared some information from Rob L. Staples who is a professor of theology emeritus at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
Advent is preparation for Christmas, not Christmas itself. It is only in commercial advertising that the Christmas season begins the first of December (or the first of October!). In the Christian calendar, Advent is the season including the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Christmas Day is December 25, and the Christmas Season itself is the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. Remember the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with “a partridge in a pear tree?”
Epiphany, which celebrates the coming of the Magi, the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as King, is January 6. Epiphany means “showing” or “unveiling” and thus “unveils” the truth that salvation was for Gentiles as well as Jews.
Advent differs from Christmas in the same way Lent differs from Easter. Both Advent and Lent are times of preparation—Advent for Christmas and Lent for Easter.
The Christian calendar, unlike the calendar on our walls or desks, does not begin January 1. It begins the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is that season when the Church turns its gaze in two directions—past and future. It looks backward as it prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, and it looks forward as it engages in self-examination in preparation for Christ’s Second Coming in glory.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” Thus in certain contexts, it means the same as the Greek parousia. However, the latter term occurs in the New Testament only with reference to the Second Coming. During the Advent season, both these “comings” of Christ are embraced in the Church’s worship—His coming in the Incarnation and His coming at the end of the age.
Advent emphasizes hope, and it is this hope that makes Advent a proper preparation for Christmas.
Christian prayer during Advent might be summed up in the word “Come.” It is the “Come, Lord Jesus” with which the Book of Revelation ends. Some of the Advent hymns blend the joy of the Good News of Christ’s nativity with the expectation of the Second Coming. The hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” expresses the Advent hope, as does Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus.” Although Christ has been present in the world all along, we pray for His presence to take on a special intensity during Advent (Matthew 28:20).
God’s advent among us is so profound that we can never fully grasp the mystery of incarnate deity. So we must continue to remember and experience anew, year after year, the reality of light in the midst of the world’s darkness. At Advent, we experience the fear and joy and hope that Christian worship expresses in the story of God’s coming to judge the world in the form of a helpless Child lying in a manager who was to give His life to save His people from their sins.
This sheds light on our Christmas celebrations. Christmas is far richer and deeper than a mere sentimental remembrance of the birth of Jesus. Of course, we should value the
tenderness of the image of the “sweet little Jesus boy, born in a manger,” but Christmas means much more.
“Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!” is a reminder that the One who came to Bethlehem is indeed our Redeemer—the One into whose dying and rising we are baptized (Rom. 6:4), just as He was baptized in the Jordan and into our human condition.
As we move toward Christmas, let us not skip Advent!
What we see as we worship may be almost as important as what we hear. Some churches use an Advent wreath as an aid to worship during the Advent season. It is a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the edge of the wreath and one in the center.
Usually, three candles are purple (the color of Advent), and one pink or rose-colored. The three purple candles may represent hope, peace, and love. The pink or rose candle stands for joy at the soon advent of the Savior.
On each Sunday of Advent, one new candle is lighted, accompanied by appropriate Scripture reading. In the center is a white candle, called the Christ Candle, which is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or if there are no services on those days it may be lighted on the fourth Sunday of Advent, along with the pink candle.
We also played the Christmas Gift Exchange! Congratulations to Becky from Mount Vernon who got to play and pick something from under our tree and was registered to win our grand prize! Click HERE if you want more information.
Here is our Troyer’s Trivia question:
Can you name two out of the top five of the worst gifts from the 12 days of Christmas?
- Maids a milking – 19
- Lords a Leaping – 18
- Geese a Laying – 14
- Drummers Drumming – 11
- Partridge in a Pear Tree – 11
- Calling Birds – 7
- Pipers Piping – 6
- Turtle Doves – 6
- French Hens – 5
- Swans a Swimming – 3
Congratulations to Dallas from Utica who guessed Maids a milking and Geese a Laying and those answers won him that $5 gift card to Troyer’s of Apple Valley!
Thanks for checking out our blog!
– Hannah and Joe