The Many Themes of Advent

There are many themes connected to the Advent Season, which includes the four
Sundays leading up to Christmas Day.  The first Sunday in Advent – this year December 3 – is the first day of the Christian liturgical calendar.  This is so because it marks the entry of the Christ Child into the world.  Christianity would not exist but for the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus.  So we recall the actual advent of Jesus 2,000 years ago.  At the same time, Advent is also a time for anticipating the reconciliation of the world to God through Jesus Christ.
Some of the themes associated with Advent are: the Incarnation (God coming to us in human form), new beginnings, new birth, anticipation, preparation, and a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world.  This touches upon one of my favorite Advent themes: the movement from darkness into light. This is symbolized by the Advent wreath lighted each Sunday during Advent, as well as Christmas Eve.  The Advent wreath is made of evergreens, which stand for life, the life of Christ.  Its circular form represents eternity – qualities of love and God.  The four candles – three purple and one pink – remind us of building anticipation that leads to the celebration of Jesus’ birth as well as the consummation of future reconciliation with God.
The purple-colored candles represent the royalty of Jesus Christ, the King of the World.  The lighter-colored pink candle denotes the joyous progression from darkness to light.  The white candle in the wreath’s center is the Christ Candle and symbolizes the purity of Jesus Christ and also pure light.  It is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Each Sunday during worship another Advent candle will be lighted to symbolically represent the movement from darkness into light.  One is lighted the first Sunday, two the second, and so forth, increasing the light.
Really, there are two forces in the world – darkness and light (God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ).  If you are in darkness, await the word of love and compassion that is coming.  Wait in the
Biblical sense, actively seeking the care and love of another by caring and loving yourself.  Now, if you are living in the light, take time to share it with others.  Take time to let that warmth and love be known to others.  With God’s help you have a tremendous power to heal yourself and others if you so choose. The hymns and prayers and stories and pageants of Advent and Christmas are not just folderol.  They speak to something very profound.  They say to us the light has come into the world and the darkness has not, cannot, will not, overcome it.  Therefore, be about God’s work, loving and forgiving and caring for one another.  It can save your life.