WHAT IS IT?
“Advent” refers to a “coming”. As the start of the Christian calendar, it is a time of expectation. We anticipate the Christmas celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus, while looking forward to his second advent.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
Even though the work of the cross is complete, all Creation (including ourselves) is still in the process of being perfected. We learn to groan with Creation amidst the pains of life, looking to the day when Jesus will come again in final victory, making all things new.
THE FOUR SUNDAYS OF ADVENT
Different themes are assigned to each of the four Sundays: Christ Coming in Final Victory (1st Sunday), John the Baptist (2nd and 3rd Sundays) and the events preceding the birth of Jesus (4th Sunday).
WHAT DO WE DO?
Advent is a time of preparing ourselves, through reflecting on how Israel anticipated the coming of the Messiah. We practise self-denial, imitating the example of Jesus in his first Incarnation.
Purple is used to signify repentance and royalty. Blue is sometimes used to signify hope.
Four candles are lit over the four Sundays, each representing Christ our Hope, the Way, our Joy, and our Peace.
Just as we do not sing of resurrection on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, it is not usually appropriate to sing Christmas carols during Advent. It is about waiting with longing and anticipation, rather than the joy of Jesus’ birth. This can be hard in modern culture, with malls playing carols as early as November, but it teaches us to wait in the imperfection where the world downplays it. Waiting amplifies our joy on Christmas and its twelve days, when we finally sing these carols.
The United Methodist Book of Worship. Nashville, TN: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992.
Truscott, Jeffrey A. Worship: A Practical Guide. Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2011.