Below is an article I originally wrote for my previous congregation’s newsletter. The article makes mention of the color blue for Advent. My current congregation still uses the traditional purple for Advent (which I actually prefer).
November 29 marks the beginning of a new church year. The first season of the church year is called Advent. The word advent means “coming.” So during Advent we focus on the coming of Jesus.
Advent primarily directs us to watch for Jesus to come again at the end of the world in power and glory to bring us to heaven. That is the reason our altar and pulpit are clothed in blue during these weeks. We lift up our heads during Advent to watch for our Savior to return “coming on the clouds.” Jesus will come to us!
Advent also points us to another advent of Jesus. This is the one most people have on their minds these days. In a stable in Bethlehem Jesus came to us. He came, not only to be with us and live with us, but to be one of us and to live for us. Jesus came to us!
The lowliness of Jesus’ first coming reminds us of the way he comes to each of us everyday. Just as Jesus came to earth wrapped in human flesh, wrapped in strips of cloths, Jesus comes to you wrapped in simple words—words of peace, joy, forgiveness. He comes in something as simple as water, which together with the Word washes away sin and joins us to our Savior. He comes to us in bread and wine, joined with Jesus’ own body and blood to give us a wondrous gift: the forgiveness of sins. Jesus comes to us!
Even though Jesus comes to us in a variety of ways, the way we celebrate them is the same. We look forward to Christmas in the same way we look forward to each time Jesus comes to us in his Word or in the Sacrament. In this same way we also look forward to Jesus’ coming at the end of the world. We wait with eager expectation for Jesus to come to us. Thus the great Advent prayer: Come, Lord Jesus.
But Advent is not an easy season to celebrate. The world tries to swallow it up with the commercialism and frenzy of “the holidays.” It’s not easy, but this year try to celebrate Advent. Here is one suggestion: pick an Advent hymn from the hymnal. These hymns expertly direct our thoughts to the coming of Jesus. Use this hymn to guide devotions with your family. Then, as a family, sing the hymn together and learn it.
Celebrate Advent. Celebrate Jesus’ coming. If you take the time to celebrate this season, your celebration of Christmas will be sweeter, because once the world has dispensed with Christmas, you can begin to marvel quietly at the most blessed gift of all—a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Celebrate Christmas. Then don’t be in a rush to leave Christmas behind. Spend a few days pondering and thanking God for the miracle of Christmas itself (the church takes 12 days for this).
And so we begin the cycle again. We heard the story before—the story of salvation, the story of Jesus’ birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection. We heard how Jesus continues to work in us, his church (in the season of Pentecost). Now we act like little children who have just finished our favorite book. “Read it again,” we say. God’s blessings to you as you celebrate Advent and Christmas. God’s blessings as you hear the story again.