A few definitions:
- Ad-vent – a new beginning, a coming or arrival
- Ad-vance – to move or jump forward, to raise in rank, to make progress
- Ad-vantage – to gain a more favorable position
- Ad-ventitious – something unusual coming from the outside
- Ad-venture – a daring, hazardous or stirring event or undertaking
- Ad-vocate – someone who is a counselor, or who speaks on behalf of a person
- Ad-vent – the period of four Sundays before the birth of Jesus Christ
All of these definitions from the dictionary hint that Advent is a special season. It’s a time of expectancy, a time to deepen our faith, a time of turning to the Lord.
Many families and churches help to remind each other by lighting an Advent wreath. Each Sunday, we light one more colored candle, representing Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. On Christmas Eve, we light the white candle in the center, which symbolizes the birth of Jesus.
Other families keep an Advent calendar during the month of December, with a series of little doors or windows. Each day, another one is opened, and behind it is another part of the Christmas picture, or a small piece of candy or a treat to symbolize the sweetness of Christmas.
It’s easy for the Christmas season to become overwhelming – too many parties, too many extra activities, too many presents to wrap and decorations to put up, too many things to get done. We always want to do everything we always did before, plus add something new this year! It’s important to take time during Advent to stop and pray, to think about the reason for the season, to do a little less and enjoy a little more.
Here at Springfield, we have a lot of special ways we recognize the season of Advent:
- special songs and carols we only sing at this time of year
- Scripture readings and messages which lead us up to the birth of Jesus
- wreaths and poinsettias which make our plain Quaker worship room beautiful
- lights in the windows which send a Christmas blessing out to everyone who passes by our meetinghouse at this darkest time of year
- treat bags with fruit, nuts and candy, a tradition which goes back to hard times in the 1930’s when few families could afford anything for Christmas
This month we have plays and pageants, holiday meals and family reunions, and of course everyone’s favorite candlelight Christmas Eve service.
We collect food for COAT as usual, and individuals and classes make special donations to our White Christmas fund. We skip monthly meeting in December, and this month the youth group is skipping their regular Wednesday night meetings to focus on their marathon New Year’s lock-in.
It’s important to remember that for some people, Advent is a difficult or anxious season – for people who are stretched financially, for people who are grieving or depressed, for people who are lonely. Reaching out in a quiet way for someone who’s having a “blue Christmas” is a special gift which honors our Lord.
Please participate in whatever you can, and whatever you do, remember – Jesus is the reason for the season!
- Josh Brown