With all going on in our nation, and as tired and discouraged as so many of us have been this year, it is even more vital to refresh ourselves in the sacredness of the Christmas season.
You know, Christmas is not about tinsel, parties, gifts, and not even about family. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying those good things, let’s remember that the real meaning of Christmas is the Savior. He is God Himself poured into human flesh to convince the world of His love, to restore His people and offer relationship with God the Father to everyone who would trust Him.
So, in this year of Covid, death, protests, chaotic elections and exhaustion, let’s renew our focus on Jesus. Let’s tuck into what His birth means, the ultimate gift to the world. The Christmas season is about Him. Nothing else matters.
One way of making the season extra sacred is in the observance of Advent. I’ll admit in my Southern Baptist upbringing, Advent was not part of our Christmas celebration. But, in recent years, with exposure to other traditions, Advent has taken on more meaning. It is a beautiful way of keeping the importance of the birth of Christ in our minds and hearts all month long.
One article I read expressed the sense that 2020 has felt like Advent all year long. When we understand that Advent is intended to shepherd God’s people through a period of both repentance and celebration, they may be right. The whole year has felt like the shaking long predicted by prophets, a call to repentance and a testing or trial for God’s people.
How about if we allow this Advent call to repentance and celebration be exactly that… in this unusual year of 2020, let’s trust and let it symbolically turn us from trials, from repentance to celebration!
To help others know and appreciate Advent this year, I found one recent article I really like written by Mary Fairchild from learnreligions.com. Let’s learn from these excerpts, her explanation of Advent, for 2020:
“In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30 (the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle in the Catholic tradition). The season of Advent lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.
Advent Calendar Dates for 2020
November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
December 6 – Second Sunday of Advent
December 13 – Third Sunday of Advent
December 20 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
The season of Advent is a period of both repentance and celebration. Christians spend time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Believers remember not only the Lord’s first coming to earth as a human baby but also celebrate his continued presence with us today through the Holy Spirit. Advent is also a time for worshipers to anticipate his return at the Second Coming of Christ.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin term “adventus” which means “arrival” or “coming,” particularly the arrival of something or someone of great significance.
The Candles of the Advent Wreath
The lighting of an Advent Wreath is a traditional custom that originated in Germany in the 16th-century. On the branches of the wreath are four candles: three purple and one pink candle. In the center of the wreath sits a white candle.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple (or violet) candle is lit. This is called the “Prophecy Candle” and recalls the prophets, particularly Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Jesus Christ. It represents hope or expectation of the coming Messiah. [Prophecy has had special meaning to Faith and Fasting this year. Wonder what God has in store through the prophet’s messages of hope in 2020?]
Each Sunday following, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle called the “Bethlehem Candle,” is lit. This candle represents love and symbolizes Christ’s manger.
On the third Sunday of Advent, the pink (or rose) candle is lit. This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “rejoice.” The change from purple to pink signifies the transition in season from repentance to celebration. The pink candle is called the “Shepherds Candle” and represents joy.
The last purple candle is called the “Angels Candle,” It is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent and represents peace.
Traditionally, on Christmas Eve, the white center candle is lit. This “Christ Candle” represents the life of Jesus Christ that has come to light the world. It represents purity.”
What a beautiful way to honor the holiness and unparalleled gift of the birth of Christ! We pray each of you is edified and encouraged in this Advent and Christmas season.
Another way we make the Christmas season sacred in our house is to listen to sacred carols given to the world through the years. When you realize how many songs have been written to celebrate His birth, it is overwhelming to know how meaningful the Savior has been to so many generations of believers.
It is also sobering to compare how shallow so many of our celebrations have become with secular jingles and people telling us the holiday is about family, gifts, parties and food. We can still appreciate those things, but the holiday is about Jesus and what His life meant to the world.
The birth of Christ had a reason. He came to die for us. But, it didn’t end there. He rose again and conquered death and hell! In the process, WE get eternal life for simply believing (trusting) Him.
Jesus’ birth meant salvation had come to the world and eternal life for every soul who believed! A free gift for the small price of trust. If you’ve never placed your trust in the wonderful Savior before today, will you accept His gift now and let Him love and lead you? Just come as you are, you don’t have to be perfect. He takes broken people, and in His love, we are made new and holy to God! You will never regret it.
Merry Christmas, America, and believers everywhere! God bless you today and every day. May you experience the true peace and celebration of Christ this holiday season.
From our Christmas playlist, enjoy this beautiful rendition of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by for King & Country:
Article source: Fairchild, Mary. “Advent Calendar Dates.” Learn Religions, Sep. 7, 2020, learnreligions.com/what-are-the-advent-dates-4025718.