The Meaning of Advent
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent in the 4th and 5th century was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers.
Over time, advent was connected to the coming of Christ. Originally Christians used this term to reference Christ’s second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was connected to Christ’s first coming that we celebrate at Christmas.
Today, we celebrate Advent over the four weeks leading up to Christmas each year. This year we begin advent on November 29th and end this season of prayerful anticipation on December 24th.
Advent season is an invitation to set your mind off of the stresses of the year. We can take our focus off of the crazy hustle that can be associated with the Christmas season that often threatens to produce more hassle than delight. Advent is a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from Heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.
The tradition for the first Sunday of Advent includes lighting the candle of hope.
This candle of hope symbolizes promises delivered through the prophets from God as well as the hope we have in Christ. God crafted a great rescue plan that he lays out in Scripture. This plan foretells years in advance the arrival of Christ. The Bible also gives us a glimpse of the future, and promises that God will come down to create a new heaven and Earth.
This first Sunday of Advent we read, pray, and reflect on the hope God’s plan gives us (foretold by the prophets and fulfilled by the life and death of Christ), and we meditate on the promise of Christ’s coming glory-filled return.
A Prayer for the First week of Advent
Father, let your hope arise in our hearts! Lift our eyes up to see that you alone are where our hope comes from. Help us to shake off the anxiety, discouragements, and distractions that have filled this year.
May we pause to remember that we have hope in you.
You know the end of our stories, and we give thanks because you have promised that it will be a victorious ending. Give us the grace we need to wrap up this year joyfully.
We invite your Spirit into this beautiful Advent season. Renew our sense of holy anticipation! Let us be those who are waiting eagerly for Jesus to come again.
More than anything, we ask that you be glorified in this season of expectation. Amen.