After hearing from so many people year after year...
who share the same disappointment that Christmas has become so commercialized, we proudly present ADVENTageous!
ADVENTageous: Capturing and releasing the spirit of anticipation as we celebrate the first and second coming (Advent) of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
So exactly what “is” Advent, anyway?
Good question! Advent begins the last Sunday of November or the first Sunday of December and continues until Christmas Day. Advent literally means “coming” and it is a time that we joyfully reflect on the first coming of the Savior (the first advent) and anxiously anticipate the Second Advent, the time that Christ will return for His church!
Is it important to celebrate Advent?
Great question! I think that as our culture moves further and further away from the real meaning of Christmas, it's important for Christians to take a “moment of pause” and consider this holy time of year! Let’s be honest; with all the commercialization of Christmas, we see more and more people focusing on “presents” rather than the “presence” of the Christ!
Ok, I get it. So where did it originate?
It goes way back! While there is not a specific time that anyone can point to, there are records of it going back at least to the 4th century!
I hear ya, but why haven't we celebrated this before in our evangelical churches?
Oh, you noticed that too! It's quite sad that anything that seems to be 'traditional' or 'liturgical' tends to be dismissed in our contemporary Christian circles. The lack of appreciation and pursuit of 'tradition' is oftentimes the reason so many Christians have turned back to traditional churches. I don't know why we don't see an appreciation for tradition more. However, it is our desire to recapture this wonderful time of the year so that Christmas will be experienced in its fullness, as it ought to be!
So, I see there are candles involved... is this a 'Catholic' thing? What's with all the symbolism?
Nah, it's not a Catholic thing. They certainly don't have the 'market' on candles! But it is something that the Catholics have really done right! Yes, it is rich in symbolism, as is much of the Old and New Testament! Each article represents a part of the story of redemption! Here's some of the symbolism:
The Wreath is circular in shape and reminds us of God, Eternity and His endless mercy that has no beginning and no end...it just keeps on going!
The 'green' of the wreath represents the hope that we have in God and the new beginning and fresh start that God gives to us in Christ!
The Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world in the person of Jesus Christ!
The four outer candles represent the 400 years of silence, also known as the 'inter-testamental period' between Malachi and Matthew where the people of God looked and longed for their Messiah!
The colors of the candles (3 purple, 1 pink) represent hope, love and peace. The pink one represents joy and the center candle is white representing the Lord, Jesus Christ. Its location in the center of the wreath reminds us that Christ is the center of all things!
The Advent Symbol is made up of two different symbols. They are the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Together, they point to the fact that Christ was present before time began and will continue after time has ended and that we will live into eternity!
Sounds good, but is all this biblical?
Well, it's certainly not 'unbiblical'! While there isn't a specific command to 'celebrate Advent' anywhere, we certainly do see many directives that call us to consider the birth of Christ and look to His glorious appearing! The 'Spirit of Advent' is expressed quite well in the parable that Christ taught about the bridesmaids who anticipated the arrival of the bridegroom in Matthew 25:1-13. We too, as we await the coming of our bridegroom, ought to prepare ourselves for His coming!
Alright, you got me. I'm in! So how do I best celebrate Advent?
Advent is simply a 'tool' by which we intentionally focus on the birth of Christ and His Second Coming. We do this by daily readings of scripture, devotions and prayer for the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas! We will be working through much of the same content together as a church on Sunday morning and encourage you to devote yourself to a designated amount of time for your own personal enrichment.
I truly believe that if you'll approach Christmas like you never have before... you'll have Christmas like you never have before!