With Advent beginning in December, Mother Julia led the children at SPW in a special Advent Chapel Service. We’ve asked Mother Julia to explain a little more about what Advent is all about.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. So, Advent is associated with a sense of expectation and anticipation. Although it has come to be associated with Christmas, it was originally about the second coming of Christ. We don’t know when that will be.
Advent symbolises anticipation, in looking forward to Christ’s return, but also remembrance, as we do remember Jesus’ first coming in a manger in Bethlehem, which we celebrate at Christmas as a major event of our faith, next to Easter.
The colour associated with Advent is purple, which in ancient times was the colour of royalty because purple dye was costly and rare. So the liturgical colour of Advent is a symbol of looking forward to welcoming the coming of a King.
Purple also has a second meaning: it also evokes pain and suffering, making it a sombre colour. In this the purple colour of Advent points to Jesus’ death on the cross, remembered at Easter.
The church season of Advent starts on Sunday December 3 this year. We held an Advent Communion service on Thursday 30th November.
Two vivid symbols associated with this season are the Advent wreath and Advent calendars. Both of these are symbols that families can use at home to re-member and retell the Christmas story.
Circle of the wreath – The coming of Christ, whose love has no end.
Green branches – Eternal life in Christ
Light of candles – Christ, the light of the world
On each of the Sundays of Advent a candle is lit, each one symbolic of an element of the story of Jesus’ birth:
Week 1 – Prophecy, purple
Week 2 – Love, purple
Week 3 – Mary or shepherds, pink
Week 4 – Angels, purple
Christmas Day – Christ candle, white
In the early church, believers marked off the days leading to Christmas on their doors in chalk. In late 19th Century Germany a mother made the first calendar for her son: 24 small sweets stuck onto card. Gerhard Lang never forgot the excitement and anticipation he experienced each December using his calendar to look forward to Christmas. He grew up to own a printing works and produced the first Advent calendar in 1908 with a small printed picture for each day of Advent. Small windows were added at the beginning of the 20th Century.