Advent is from the Latin adventus meaning “coming.” Advent is traditionally a time when Christians memorialize the coming of Christ in His incarnation and anticipate Christ’s imminent return as cosmic judge and king.
There are various themes and traditions involved with the Advent season, but the most common in the Western world is the systematic lighting of 5 candles as part of an Advent wreath or candelabrum.
Each candle represents a feature of anticipating and celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ. Hope, love, joy, and peace are the word-themes most commonly associated with the first four candles. Each is lighted in succession over the span of 4 weeks, usually corresponding with a daily reading and prayer related to the respective word-theme and Christ’s advent.
The fifth and final candle is traditionally lighted on Christmas day. This last candle symbolizes Christ Himself, and its lighting becomes the final memorial of the Christmastime expectation and celebration. This too is usually accompanied by a reading (often the Christmas story in Luke 2) and prayer.
However you keep Christmas in your family or church, may we all intend to keep it well. For Christ has come… let earth receive her King!
*For those interested, I will be posting brief daily notes through Christmas day (see the “Advent” category on my blog). These posts will correspond to the Advent calendar and may provide helpful daily readings for you and/or your family.
May God graciously give us hearts that celebrate the King who came and anticipate the King who is coming!