Today is the First Sunday of Advent. “What the heck is Advent?” you may be asking.
The season of Advent, which 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.]
During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. 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.
So tonight we begin our celebration of Advent by lighting the first candle on our Advent Wreath. “An Advent Wreath,” you say, “What’s that?” Well here. I’ll let Chuck explain it…
Took a couple pix of our Advent Wreath this afternoon when I got it out. It’s a bit on the “needs-a-makeover” side as we’ve used it on this little brass candelabra for quite some years now. But I hate to tear it apart. You probably can’t see very well, but there are pretty Christmas ornaments and ribbon hanging beneath each candle. The Christ candle is missing in the middle because we don’t add ours until Christmas Eve.
This year we’re using the book Sent: Delivering The Gift of Hope At Christmas (Jorge Acebedo) for our Sunday devotions, as well as another little book called The Journey (Adam Hamilton) for our daily readings. We’ve used The Journey several times. A very simple little book, it follows the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Sent has a different theme for each Sunday. Today’s chapter is based on Luke 2:8-10 in the Bible and asks the question, “Why did the angels come to the shepherds first?” The jumping off point for the chapter is the “graveyard shift” workers in our lives, because that’s what these shepherds were.
But before I go so we can do that, I just want to recommend another blog from yesterday by SueBe over at praypower4today. In it Sue talks about the word Hope, and where we can see Hope today in the mess that is our world. I was very touched by it. It is well worth the read if you’re one of the many folks despairing that nothing important is happening in the world of refugees and terrorist attacks. I hope you find it as comforting as I did.
Time to light the first candle…
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone!
(Luke 2:8-10, The Living Bible)