Advent 2017

The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.]

Advent began in France in the fourth century. In various times and locations of the church, it has been observed for three, four, and six weeks leading to Christmas. Some churches today are experimenting with incorporating Advent themes and symbols in worship during the weeks prior to the actual start of Advent in the hope that they can avoid the conflict of Advent versus Christmas observance during the immediate weeks prior to Christmas.

The color for Advent has traditionally been purple. Some churches have adopted blue for Advent. In practice, however, as churches increasingly incorporate the symbols and decorations of Christmas during Advent, more and more we see red, green, and gold appearing. The United Methodist Book of Worship upholds the traditional color of purple for Advent, signifying penitence and royalty, but also allows blue, the color of hope.

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.