As I walk around Melbourne this holiday season the spirit of the modern Christmas is alive and well. Children know we are celebrating a birthday (although some think it is Santa's) and that it is a special day but I wonder as Jot grows up whether I can differentiate the spiritual from the material for her. Modern Christmas cards contain pictures of Santa Claus more often that the baby Jesus, fewer and fewer places are showing nativity scenes. The Myer windows in Melbourne this year feature Olivia the Pig. Have we lost touch with the spiritual meaning of Advent has it just become the expectation of presents to us all.
This year has seen me reflect more on the spiritual meaning of Advent for myself and for Jot.
I don't believe in forcing my religion on anyone else so feel free to stop reading here. For those of you who would like to know more about Advent I encourage you to visit your local Church one Sunday in December you never know what you might discover.
Here are a couple of bits of information that you might find interesting.
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the season in teh Christian church is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. This is not to be confused with the 12 days of Chirstmas which occour after Christmas from Boxing Day to Epiphany (6 Jan).
Colours of Advent - Traditionally the church uses Purple in its alter coverings during Advent, however some churches are moving away from Purple to a Royal or bright Blue to distinguish this season from Lent. Purple has long been held to be the colour of Royalty the saying "born to the purple" means born to rule and goes back to the days of the Romans. Secular colours of Advent are traditionally Red and Green, these derive from older European practices of using evergreens and holly to symbolize ongoing life and the hope that Christ’s birth brings into a cold world. They are never used by the church as they are used at other times through the Christian year.
The Advent Wreath - The Advent Wreath is an evergreen wreath with five candles (traditionally three purple, one pink and one white - the coloured ones are on the wreath with the white one inside the wreath). The Evergreen boughs symoblize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus the Christ. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. On the first Sunday of Advent one of the outside candles is lit, on the second Sunday two are lit and so on. The White candle (known as the Christ Candle) is lit of either Christmas Eve of Christmas Day and serves to remind us that Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
If you would like to make an Advent wreath for your home there are plenty of options out there. Here are a few I have dicovered:
A Childs Wreath (no open flames) from Pure Joy
An Easy Advent Wreath from Two Square Meals
A PomPom Wreath (probably not a good idea t use candles with this one) from Huckleberry Prairie
I don't have an Advent wreath and I won't have time to make one for this year but I hope that by the time next Advent comes round I will be ready and able to start to teach Jot the difference in the hope of presents and the hope of the light of Jesus.