By Luke Johnson | January 1, 2013
What is Advent About?
Light is a major theme.
Advent leads us into darkest part of winter.
What is the year’s darkest day?
Obviously, what holiday comes right after this?
Why do you think the early Church celebrated Christmas after the darkest day of the year?
Facing to the East - Eschatological hopes
Why look to the East when we pray the Apostles Creed? What comes from there?
What connection can you think of between Christian worship and the rising of the sun?
We await the sun each day, which rises from the East.
We await the Risen Son who brings light to the world.
Tolkien gets it right
What does Aragorn tell the Orks when they’re surrounded at Helm’s Deep?
(The hope of men comes in the morning; or, The sunrise is the hope of men.)
In Middle Earth, there is something real built into their world in which hope comes to man in the morning. Illuvatar/Erdu created the world and created man in such a way that man and the rising of the sun are connected.
Tolkien knows that the rising of the sun and the humans of this world are connected, too.
What reasons can you think of that give you hope when a new day begins?
New grace every morning
Bad things from that previous day are over
Wake up having slept, the day is brighter
Advent is all about the coming of the Son -- God’s Son, who is the light of the world.
It’s not just “the time that leads up to Christmas”
It’s a time when we’re invited into anticipating the coming of Jesus on the clouds of heaven -- a time when we expect God to break into our world and crush everything that is bad -- a time when we can read the prophet Isaiah with huge hopes when he writes things like, “He will bind up our wounds”, or “the deserts will overflow with water and green things” -- it’s a time when we can look at the trouble of the world and remember with a fist pump that “THIS ISN’T ALL THERE IS! THE KING OF THE WORLD IS COMING! EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY! AND BETTER THAN OKAY! IT’S GOING TO BE BLOW-YOUR-FREAKING-SOCKS-OFF-AWESOME!”
What’s so exciting about Jesus being born?
Why do you think the shepherds were so excited when the angels filled the sky and learned that Jesus was born?
Why do you think Jesus’ story is recorded in books we call “gospels”?
Do you know what the word “gospel” means?
ευαγγελλιον -- “good news”
What’s the good news? How is a baby being born good news for shepherds?
Why is Jesus’ birth good news for King David? For Moses? For the slaves in Egypt?
It means that God is breaking into the world and doing what he always promised to do. For centuries Israel hoped for a King who would lead them out of slavery, out of exile, out of oppression. They all died before they got to see God’s promise come true. But it did come true, and that’s what the celebration of Christmas is for -- God’s promise coming true and the world getting put back to rights.
If Christmas is celebrating God’s promise coming true, what is Advent for?
It’s us joining all the saints in the past who waited for God to change the world. We wait with them.
And we’re still waiting, too. Jesus came once already, but he has promised to come again.
So, Advent is a mixture of waiting for the coming of the Messiah, and waiting for him to come again to finish the job.
The Advent Wreath
What pieces do you need to make an Advent wreath?
- 1 white candle
- 3 blue/purple candles
- 1 pink candle
- evergreen garland
Everything is symbolic
What is the evergreen garland for?
Advent comes when our part of the world is cold and dark. Nothing grows in this part of the year. Everything dies. Evergreen reminds us that there is life even though everything is cold and dark.
It’s a sign of the everlasting life that Jesus brings to the world. Life that continues even though the world dies.
Why 4 candles?
They stand for the 4 weeks of Advent.
What do the colors mean?
Blue/purple = repentance. What does John the Baptist preach all the time? (“Prepare the way of the Lord!”) The deep color of the candles remind us to reflect on our lives. Are there things in our lives right now that we need to clear out of the way so that we can meet with Jesus?
Pink = joy! On the third Sunday of Advent we light the pink candle because we rejoice together that we’re half way there! We’ve almost made it to the coming of Jesus! It’s a time to think about the shepherds’ celebration when the angels tell them what’s happening; Mary’s response to Gabriel (Magnificat); the joy of the wise men who bring their gifts for a baby king.
White = Christ Candle. We light this one on Christmas morning to remind us that Christ, the light of the world, has come.
What do each of the candles stand for?
- Prophecy/Hope (blue) -- remembering the message of the OT prophets who told of the Messiah who would come and deliver the world out of darkness
- The Way (blue) -- Jesus comes as the Way, the Truth, and the Light. The world is in darkness and Jesus comes to show us how to be human in a new way, how to become sons and daughters of God.
- Joy (pink) -- Lasting Joy comes through Jesus. True life, freedom from death, life everlasting.
- Peace (blue) - Jesus comes to bring peace in the world -- he is the Prince of Peace. Eventually, everyone in the world will submit to Jesus as their king and there will be real peace because evil will be crushed at the end, forever.