Advent comes from the Latin word "ad-venire," meaning "to come to." Throughout the four weeks leading up to Christmas, followers of Jesus observe a period of expectant "waiting" for the day of Jesus' birth. The time is defined by reflection, and preparing the heart and mind to honor the meaning of Jesus' birth and life.
Even our popular culture today recognizes the general "waiting" concept of Advent with Advent calendars for purchase in nearly every store and setting. Many of them are modified to simply countdown to the holiday with an incredible range of designs, from Disney characters to decadent chocolates and treats to more generic but lovely patterns.?
In Christian faith communities, candles are lit each week as a symbol of this waiting time. Traditionally, four candles are inserted into an evergreen wreath?one of the candles purple and one rose-colored. The purple candle symbolizes the prayers and preparation of Advent, while the rose candle?lit on the third Sunday?represents rejoicing. As each candle is lit, the progression illustrates the building expectation of all that Jesus brought in his birth, and continues to bring our world.
Every week during the season of Advent, on Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry social media pages (Facebook / Twitter), we share reflections on Advent for our community. One of this year's reflections came from current Master of Divinity student Ann Mayer. Ann is a part of the United Methodist community, and is in preparation for ministerial ordination through the school's degree program. She shares more about her posture toward Advent this year in the below.?
"I?ve been trying to be more intentional about making the season of Advent meaningful this year. ?One of the things I am doing is following the RethinkChurch?daily Advent activities. ?Some are reflective and some are action-oriented. The following is a post for day 6, which was particularly meaningful to me. It resonates in a timely manner, as well, given the tragedy and injustice we are seeing in our world. It strikes me as relevant while we witness individuals and communities fighting for justice in the face of tragedy, and find ourselves wondering how we might play a role."
Jan L. Richardson, an artist and United Methodist pastor says this about Advent:
'Advent calls us...to look for the presence of Christ who enters our every loss, who comes to us in the midst of devastation, who gathers us up when our world has shattered, and who offers the healing that is a foretaste of the wholeness he is working to bring about not only at the end of time but also in this time, in this place.'
As Advent begins, is there something in your life that is ending? How might you look for the presence of Christ who comes to you in that place?
Take this blessing from Jan into the rest of your week:
"Blessing When the World is Ending"
Look, the world is always ending somewhere.
Somewhere the sun has come crashing down.
Somewhere it has gone completely dark.
Somewhere it has ended with the gun, the knife, the fist.
Somewhere it has ended with the slammed door, the shattered hope.
Somewhere it has ended with the utter quiet that follows the news from the phone, the television, the hospital room.
Somewhere it has ended with a tenderness that will break your heart.
But, listen, this blessing means to be anything but morose.
It has not come to cause despair.
It is simply here because there is nothing a blessing is better suited for than an ending,
nothing that cries out more for a blessing than when a world is falling apart.
This blessing will not fix you, will not mend you, will not give you, false comfort;
it will not talk to you about one door opening when another one closes.
It will simply sit itself beside you among the shards and gently turn your face toward the direction from which the light will come,
gathering itself about you as the world begins again.