What Is Advent? (Hope, Love, Joy, Peace)

Today we will enter into the Christian Season of Advent. ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. This is the time when Christians look forward to the birth of Jesus in that manger in Bethlehem. In the early days of the church, Advent was a time of prayer and confession. Today, Advent is more a time of preparation and expectation for the coming of the Lord.

Like many things in our world, there are symbols which represent bigger things

    • the Stars and Stripes standing for the United States,
    • fireworks for the Fourth of July,
    • turkey for Thanksgiving and
    • Santa Claus for the secular aspect of Christmas.

The Advent Wreath is the symbol of Advent. The circle of greenery reminds us that God is eternal. In Revelation 1:8, God says:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty

The endless circle also reminds us of the hope we have in God, of newness, renewal and eternal life.

The candles symbolize the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus. The light from the candles reminds us that Jesus is the ‘light of the world’ that comes into our darkness. They also remind us that the prophet Isaiah called us to be the

light to the world (Isaiah 42:6)

as we reflect the light of God’s love and grace to others.

The Advent wreath usually sits where everyone can see it and is a constant reminder of this holy season.

The first blue candle is the Candle Of Hope, reminding us of the coming of the Messiah. And we can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us.

The second blue candle is the Candle of Love. God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. It reminds us of our need to prepare our souls for his coming.

On the third Sunday the pink Candle of Joy is lit. This candle is sometimes known as the Mary Candle, reminding is of the Virgin Mary, remembering that she was soon to bear the Son of God in a lowly stable.

Finally on the fourth Sunday of Advent, just a few days before the birth of Christ, the final blue Candle Of Peace is lit. This candle reminds us God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us!

On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle is lit, celebrating the birth of Christ. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins!

Here at In the Garden, we will be celebrating together the season of Advent by hearing a short scripture, being reminded of what we are thankful for, lighting each candle and saying a short prayer. You have been given a sheet which contains the service for each of the Sundays of Advent. I hope some of you will volunteer each Sunday to read the scripture, explain the purpose of the candle and then someone else light the appropriate candle.

Let us celebrate this season of Advent, awaiting with expectation the birth of the baby Jesus.

“So Come Let Us Adore Him” and Celebrate!

In preparing for the Advent season, I came across this poem written by Father Daniel Berrigan.

    It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
    It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction— This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

    It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

    It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

    It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

    It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
 
  

ADVENT CANDLELIGHTING LITURGY

FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT

Leader: Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel, the hope of all peoples; he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us; he is the Saviour of every nation. O God, let your blessing come upon our community gathered here before you.

Bless us and our advent wreath. (+)

May the light that shines forth from these candles illumine our way as we journey towards Christmas; may the light that shines forth from them illumine our lives as we wait in hope for the birth of the Christ-child. We ask this through Christ who is the Light of the World. Amen.

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short, we look on these earthly signs–light and green branches– and remember God’s promise to our world: Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.

Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:

Scripture:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined… For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2, 6)

Reader: Today we look with anticipation to the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah, as foretold through Old Testament history. As God’s people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by false prophets, there were some who prayed for God to raise up a new king who could show them how to be God’s people.

People: Today we give thanks for those among us who bring us surprising new visions of hope, who challenge us to think outside the box, who show us a future we could never anticipate.

Candlelighter: On this first Sunday of Advent, we light this Hope Candle as a symbol of the hope and anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child.

(Light a purple candle.)

Prayer: O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
 
  
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Scripture:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16-18).

Reader: Today we remember that God gave us His only Son, to live among us as a human, suffering as we do. And He loved us so much that he sacrificed His Son so that we may all have eternal life.

People: Today we thank you for your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. We who have sat in darkness have seen a great light, the light of Jesus Christ, our salvation.

Candlelighter: On this second Sunday in Advent, we light the Love Candle as a symbol of God’s love that sent his Son to live among us and die for our salvation.

(Light two purple candles.)

Prayer: O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
 
 
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT

Scripture:

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name'” (Luke 1:46-49).

Reader: Today we look with joy to Mary and the Savior that grows in her womb. Mary sang boldly when she might have been meek; she carries the beginning of a mighty revolution as the proud are brought down and the lowly lifted up.

People: Today we give thanks for the Marys among us, who step out of the roles society has planned; unintended pioneers determined to do as God asks; fearless and fearfully stepping out in faith, and beckoning us to do the same.

Candlelighter: On this third Sunday of Advent, we light this Joy Candle as a symbol of Mary, mother of God, bearer of the Way, and in joy of the anticipated birth of the Christ Child.

(Light two purple candles and one pink candle.)

Prayer: O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
 
 
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Scripture:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Reader: Today we remember Joseph, worn-out traveler and worried husband, doing what was necessary for the sake of his family, the burden of poverty stifling his hope in the promise of God. There was no room for him, yet he knows to whom he belongs.

People: Today we give thanks for your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace. We who live in discord and strife have found peace in the promise of eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Candlelighter: On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the Peace Candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace and God’s eternal kingdom.

(Light all candles on wreath.)

Prayer: O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son. As the light from this candle, may the blessing of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world, and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
 
 
CHRISTMAS DAY

(Insert white candle in center of wreath)

Scripture:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Then the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:1-20)

Reader: As we light these candles today, we thank God for hope he gives us, for the peace he bestows, for the joy he pours into our hearts, and for the love that redeems us and shows us the way

People: Today we thank God for his gift of Jesus. We thank him that through Christ his light has come into the world and made it possible for us to see, and in seeing, to rejoice. His truth, his love, his very self, transforms all who receive him

Candlelighter: On this Christmas Day, Loving God, Emmanuel, we thank you for being with us -for sending your Son to walk with us and to lead us. Grant that the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love of which we have heard and spoken of throughout Advent may be fully realized in us as we worship and serve you through Christ Jesus our Lord, this both now, and in the new year that comes this night, and forevermore. Amen.

(Light all candles on wreath and Christ candle.)
 
 
Delivered each year during Advent at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square

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