Advent is the beginning of the church calendar year. We are beginning Year C of the lectionary cycle. The word advent is derived from the Latin word, adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” Traditionally, Advent candles have been purple, associated with royalty. This color symbolizes the sovereignty of Jesus, descendant of David, coming to usher in the reign of God. Another tradition calls for the use of a pink candle on the Third Sunday of Advent, known as “Rejoice Sunday,” with the candle being named the “Joy Candle.” The circle of the Advent wreath reminds us of God’s endless mercy and the eternal life that Christ has obtained for all believers. Over the years, Christians have attached a variety of meanings and symbolism to each of the Advent candles, so that the first candle is associated with hope, the second with peace, the third with joy, and the fourth with love. The real symbolism of the candles, however, lies in the circle of light they create together. The large candle in the center of the wreath is the “Christ Candle,” to be lit on Christmas Eve, commemorating the long-awaited birth of Messiah Jesus.
The following are some “Questions to Ponder” on this first Sunday of Advent:
- What concerns and worries about the future guide our present activities?
- In seeking to secure a good future for ourselves, are we making the present more difficult for others?
- Would our present be different if we really believed our future lies in the realm of God?