Welcome. We are entering a new season. Some may think I’m speaking of winter since the weather in the DC area is becoming quite cold. However, I am speaking of the season of Advent. ‘Advent’ refers to “the arrival of a notable person or event” and during the Advent Season we prepare for the arrival of Jesus, the One who has come, whom we expect to come, and whom we are promised will come again. Although the formal recognition of Advent has been part of my church life for years, I realized this year that I have not made it personal.
I prepared a Hanging of the Green service for church yesterday and focused on the symbolic decorations of candles representing God sending light into the world, evergreens representing God’s eternal love, and the flower of the poinsettias representing the star over Bethlehem. As I look around the church, I see evergreen garlands nestling around the candles on the windowsills and draped over candle sconces on the wall. I see poinsettias adorning the sanctuary. We recognize the significance of these decorations in our church settings. But do we contemplate what they represent as we use them to decorate our homes? Which of these symbols do you find among your home’s Christmas decorations? Perhaps we need to bring our Advent experience into our homes. Let’s remember that the candles represent God giving us Jesus, the Light of the World; the garland draped over our doorways and around our banisters represent the everlasting love of God in giving us his Son; and the deep red, star-shaped petals of the poinsettia represent that Jesus is for all, even the humblest of humankind.
Another of the advent traditions at church is the Advent Wreath, a circle of candles where a new candle is lit each week leading up to Christmas. Yesterday we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. This candle starts the promise of the season with the flicker of one lone flame. That is the special message of Jesus’ coming into the world. One lone flame pushes back the darkness and offers hope.
Each week the wreath will increase in brightness as new candles are lit, heralding the coming (or advent) of the Light of the World and the joy, hope, love and peace manifested through the presence of Christ in the world. May your eyes and your heart find the Advent in your personal Christmas preparation this year.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the people, but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.