Advent: a wakeful waiting

Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. It is a time of preparation and waiting for the coming (Adventus) of Christ. The colour of Advent is purple, the colour of royalty to welcome the coming of Christ the King. The purple of Advent is also the colour of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week.

This points to an important connection between Jesus' birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. Jesus came into the world as the "Word made flesh" and lived among us to reveal God and His grace. He did this through his life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and look forward to the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent celebrates far more than just a 2,000-year-old event—amazing as that was; it celebrates the revelation of God in Christ reconciling all creation to God's self. Sunday Bible readings for Advent reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, our accountability for faithfulness at tis coming, the judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and congregation, as we affirm that Christ has come, is present in the world today, and will come again in power.

Each Sunday in Advent marked by lighting of a new candle on the Advent wreath of five candles. The three purple candles are coloured for the season. A pink candle is traditionally lit on the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, reminding us of the joy of the coming of Christ. The white candle, symbolises the presence of Christ and is joyfully lit on Christmas Day.

The Advent Wreath

Here is one explanation of the symbolism of the Advent wreath of candles:

  • The Circle of the Wreath: The eternity and endless mercy, of God, without beginning, nor end.
  • The Green of the Wreath: Our hope of newness, renewal and eternal life.
  • Light of the Candles: The Light of God that came into the world through Christ to bring newness, life and hope.
  • Lighting the Candles: The progressive departure of darkness from the world as the more and more light is shed through the candles.
  • Four Candles: The four weeks of Advent, representing the four centuries between the time of the Prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
  • Three Coloured (purple) Candles: A period of waiting, expectation and preparation.
  • The First Candle: A time of expectation and hope.
  • The Second Candle: The peace that is to come.
  • The Pink (or Rose) Candle for the Third Week: It symbolizes joy for the promise is almost fulfilled.
  • The Fourth Candle: The love of God for humanity.
  • The Fifth White Candle: Called the "Center Candle", it is lit on Christmas Eve or Day to display that the light of Christ has come into the world in fulfillment of the prophecies.

No boundaries

© RLM Arts. Used with permission.