Its December already and while your prepping up for the best party in town or the outfit you would want to wear on Christmas day, or you’re busy hanging up your Christmas stockings and other decorations let’s not forget the true meaning that lies behind Christmas. Behind all the commercialism or the glam of Christmas, let’s try and focus on what Christmas could actually mean. In the Christian faith, the month of December symbolizes the season of advent which means “coming” from the Latin word “adventus”.

Scholars believed that, during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.

While not all of us might not be Christians, but we can still celebrate the meaning of Advent each in our own way. The season of Advent teaches us we as a community should be more loving, kind, helpful and caring to one another. It also teaches to have faith in our selves and the almighty one and never deter from our faith in God.

Advent Today

Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays that will ultimately lead to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. (Advent begins on Sunday that falls between November 27 and December 3rd each year.)  Advent 2018 begins on Sunday, December 2 and ends on Monday, December 24.

Advent, this year symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in guiding them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was sung. While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.

The Advent Wreath

At Advent a wreath is hanged horizontally or sometimes placed flat on a decorated pillar by the church. The wreath is also known as the Advent Wreath. The wreath is made into a circle of evergreen leaves and branches to symbolize eternal life. It is known that the circle of the wreath acts as reminder to the Christian of God, his eternity and endless mercy. That has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath talks of hope, faith in God, of renewal and of eternal life.

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In the same manner we too should as humans and God’s children should be more merciful and more forgiving and more faithful to not only others but to ourselves as well. We shouldn’t let hatred and anger get the better of us.  Kindness and humbleness won’t hurt anyone.  Advent is a reminder that good deeds will always be rewarded.

The Candles of the Advent Wreath

Advent worship acts as a journey through the time seizing Christmas story. At Advent, Christians place candles called Advent candles within the four corners of the wreathe and one right at the center of the wreath. All the four cornered candles could be of the colors: red, purple or blue while the candle at the center within the wreath should be white. Christians use the candles to celebrate this period with one lit up on every Sunday of Advent. The symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of his son Jesus.

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On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple (or violet) candle is lit. This is called the “Prophecy Candle” and recalls the prophets, particularly Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Jesus Christ. It represents hope or expectation of the coming Messiah.

Each Sunday following, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle called the “Bethlehem Candle,” is lit. This candle represents love and symbolizes Christ’s manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent, the pink (or rose) candle is lit. This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “rejoice.” The change from purple to pink signifies the transition in season from repentance to celebration. The pink candle is called the “Shepherds Candle” and represents joy.

The last purple candle is called the “Angels Candle,” It is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent and represents peace.

Traditionally, on Christmas Eve, the white center candle is lit. This “Christ Candle” represents the life of Jesus Christ that has come to light the world. It represents purity.

There you have it! the true meaning of Christmas. Let this Advent season help you to be more generous, more helpful, more loving and more jovial. So if you’ve been carrying a baggage of bitterness, anger or hatred, let it go this advent season and you’ll experience happiness that has no bounds, you will be more peaceful and content with life and with others.

Also Read: The Fernandes House – A Glimpse Through The Keyhole Of Time

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