Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning arrival, is the 4-week period prior to Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming of Christ, the time before the actual celebration of the “joy to the world” that God’s incarnation becomes. It is a time to ponder the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for us by coming to earth as a vulnerable infant. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and rose from the dead for us. He saved us from our sins and eternal damnation because of His great love, and adopts each person who is awakened to the gospel into His family.
During the Advent Season we will take the time to reflect on the themes of an awakened HOPE, which gives way to an abiding PEACE, which blossoms into a fragrant JOY, which causes sacrificial LOVE to flourish. This will prepare KHC to be ready to engage a world that Christ has entered. To faithfully remember the narrative of what God has done will empower us to look forward to a preferred future with passion and purpose.
The Meaning of the Advent Wreath
An advent wreath can be a teaching tool and a reminder for Christians of the true meaning of Christmas. Traditionally, the Advent wreath symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent. It is typically a circular candleholder that holds five candles. During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday until all of the candles, including the fifth candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve/Day. Each candle customarily represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
11/26-27 Hope: Romans 15:12-13
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” It is not a blissful ignorance or wishful thinking but a subversive cheer that refuses to let circumstance triumph over courage, doubt overcome faith, or adversity conquer compassion. This is not easy; it is not our default setting. When we hit brick walls, the first emotion that naturally arises is generally not hope. Hope requires a strength that comes from focusing on a greater vision than what is wrong. We may not have every problem figured out, but we serve a God who loved this world enough to join us in it. We trust that when Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” he meant it.
12/3-4 Peace: Luke 2:7-15
Biblical peace is a more than a cessation of wars. It is a reconstituting of reality where mercy and justice reign, power becomes subservient to hospitality, and governance is driven by grace. Biblical peace is a culmination of a rescue plan that God initiated through amazing grace. Advent invites us to see the peace of God as a way of life.
12/10-11 Joy: John 16:20-24
Joy can invade our hearts unexpectedly. It jumps out at us from behind sunsets, peeks out in the smile of a stranger, and takes hold in a child’s laughter. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” If this is true, every moment of joy is like a little Christmas in our lives. Advent is not only a time when we hope for the coming of Christ in great history-changing events. It is also a time where we hope for those little moments of joy, and invite God to use us as instruments of joy for a lost and broken world.
12/17-18 Love: 1 John 4:7-11
In the fourth century, Saint Augustine wrote, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.” Advent gives us space to step back and reorient our lives to receive God’s love and share God’s love. When we are able to take the focus off ourselves we begin to see the needs of others.