The Christian Calendar recalls and celebrates the life and ministry of Jesus and the birth of the early church. The first season, Advent, begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day (November 29th) and ends on Christmas Eve. The word advent means "coming" or "arrival" and the focus of the season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus in his first advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second advent. More than simply marking a 2,000 year-old event in history,
Advent celebrates God’s plan of salvation whereby all of creation may be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ—a process in which we now participate, the consummation of which we still anticipate. With its double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes our spiritual journey, as individuals and as a congregation, as we affirm that Christ has come, He is present in the world today, and He will come again in power and glory. Such a profession serves as the foundation for our biblical worldview—our desire to love God, to love our neighbor, and to be ambassadors of God’s love and truth as we find ourselves living between the past and future coming. Advent is marked by a spirit of preparation, anticipation, and hope in the reign of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who will bring righteousness and peace to the world. During Advent, the use of evergreens symbolizes new and everlasting life through Jesus the Christ. Pointed holly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the red berries symbolize the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The continuous circle of the Advent wreath speaks of eternity and the endless mercy of God that has no beginning or end. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus. The three purple and one rose candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent. The white “Christ” candle proclaims that Jesus is the light of the world who transforms the darkness of our lives and calls us to carry the His light of mercy and truth into the world. Traditionally, the primary color for the communion tablecloth, pulpit scarf, and other vestments is purple. Purple is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty that welcomes the advent of the King.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)