Hello everybody! It is a beautiful and joyful season as we prepare for the coming of Jesus ^^
Thanks to Daniel and Maureen, I learnt many things about Advent! It is true that sometimes it is very easy for us to put so much focus on Lent but forget that Advent is a very similar time of reflection and preparation.
Christmas to me often means pretty lights on Orchard Road, Christmas trees, presents and delicious food etc.
Of course these things are perfectly fine and they are ways to express our joy and celebration for Christmas! The decorations that we do, the gifts we exchange and the food we share could be a platform of how we as children of God bond together and be present for each other. However, we also should bear in mind the invitation for a deeper journey with God!
So what is Advent?
- From the Latin word adventus (arrival)
- Start of the new liturgical year
- Season of preparation for Christmas
- 4 Sundays before Christmas and ends on 24 Dec afternoon
Chrismas Eve begins the Christmas season!
I think when we speak of Advent or Lent preparation, I often hear people speak about why the need to only abstain or reflect for 8 weeks a year – the ideal is to constantly do it the entire year. I don’t know about you guys, but that is way too difficult for me! If by God’s grace, I can just improve on a single aspect of my life in my relationship with God just 2 times a year (and to be able to sustain it of course) – the joy will be too much for me to handle!
Hence, in a more spiritual sense, Advent is really about:
- Season of renewal, hope and eager longing
- Season of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming in the past, in the present and in the future!
So there are 4 weeks of Advent and there is actually a theme going on for the different weeks for reflection:
- 1st Sunday: “End Times” – the coming of the “Day of the Lord”
- 2nd Sunday: “Prepare the Way of the Lord” – preaching and ministry of John the Baptist
- 3rd Sunday: Works of John the Baptist (Gaudete Sunday)
- 4th Sunday: Events immediately preceding the birth of Jesus
As you may have noticed earlier in the post, we have the Advent wreath symbolizing the 4 weeks of Advent.
It is an evergreen wreath with 4 candles (3 violet, 1 rose) displayed throughout Advent.
▫1st candle: Hope – The Prophet’s Candle
▫2nd candle: Faith – The Bethlehem Candle
▫3rd candle: Joy – The Shepherd’s Candle (Rose colored!)
▫4th candle: Peace – The Angel’s Candle
And below is a bit more information on the symbolism of the wreath
Another interesting thing I learnt about was the Jesse Tree. Jesse is the father of King David and this tree represents all the major events of the bible leading up to Jesus’ birth. Are you able to identify some of the biblical events? ^^
Here are some clues!
Some of the symbols included are the sun, the tablets of the Law, the key of David, Bethlehem, the root of Jesse, Noah’s ark, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar of holocaust, the apple, the Paschal Lamb, the pillar of fire, manna, the star of David, Jacob’s ladder, Jonah in the whale, the Temple, the crown and the scepter, the sword of Judith, and the burning bush.
By the way, I suppose you guys are familiar with the Christmas carol “The twelve days of Christmas”? The 12 days are not just a song, but it represents the extended liturgical season!
Christmas day starts from 24 Dec after sunset until 06 Jan which is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Feast of Baptism of the Lord). 12 days!
Perhaps this leads you to a question. Who decided that Christmas is 25th December?
Actually, nobody knows the exact day on which Jesus was born! In fact, it was adopted only in the early 4th century when the Roman Empire adopted the Christian religion. This was to replace the mid-winter Roman festival of “the birth of the sun god”.
Above is a display of the Liturgical Colors and Seasons. You will notice that the colors of Lent / Advent and Easter / Christmas are the same! This also indicates how the Church treats these Liturgical seasons as very similar.
Violet: Symbolizes repentance and penance
Rose (advent only): 3rd Sunday recognizes the joyful anticipation of the season -> Christmas!
White/Gold: Christmas! Symbolizes the joy in the light of day.
So with that in mind, how do we prepare for Advent / Christmas?
A quick cookbook would be the Advent weekly reflection book Deanna has kindly collected and distributed among us!
You are encouraged to follow this book with your family or as a personal reflection journey. Other suggestions would include:
- Consider an advent ‘fast’ which may or may not be related to food consumption. For example, it could be to spend less time on the Internet etc…
- ‘Gift’ to others. Consider precious gifts such as time, effort or money for others in need.
- Self-reflection – nothing beats prayer as a form of preparation for Advent!
We ended the beautiful session with the following reflection questions and we encourage you to also take some minutes to think of the following:
How have I experienced GOD’s grace and love this year? How can I share this with the people around me this Advent?
What does Advent mean to me?
What can I resolve to do this Advent to prepare myself prepare myself for the coming of Christ?
Peace be with you and I hope that you have a most meaningful and blessed Advent with your loved ones 🙂