The following is from the twelfth installment of my bulletin insert series:
Advent - Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It continues until the beginning of the Christmas season, at sundown on Christmas Eve.
Advent means coming. The season proclaims the comings of the Christ - whose birth we prepare to celebrate, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return we anticipate. Each year Advent calls the community of faith to prepare for these comings.
The Advent Wreath is a wonderful part of the sanctuary during the Advent season, as well as a wonderful part of family worship throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The Advent wreath originated during the Renaissance. The circle of evergreen branches is a symbol of everlasting life for two reasons. First, the use of evergreens symbolize everlasting life. Second, the circle, which has no end, symbolizes eternity.
Four candles (one for each Sunday before Christmas) encircle the Christ candle. Purple is most often used for three of the four candles (the first, second and fourth candles). Purple is a color of both penitence and royalty. Pink or rose is often used on the third Sunday to represent joy. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the Christ candle is lit. It remains lit throughout the Christmas season, which begins on Christmas (or Christmas Eve) and lasts for twelve days, until Epiphany on January 6. White, a joyous and festive color, represents the purity of the Christ Child.