The Christian world exclaims excitement over the coming celebration of Christmas on Tuesday, the day noted by Christendom as the birthday of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Many among the faithful have spent the past several weeks getting prepared for that day by observing the season of Advent, the four Sundays prior to Christmas that Christian churches use to remind their followers what the real reason for the season is all about.
For many mainline churches who observe the Liturgical Calendar, Advent is the first season of the Christian church year leading up to Christmas.
Some churches may traditionally not place as much emphasis on Advent in the church calendar as other denominations, many will still at least take a moment to remind parishioners of the season.
Pastor Tim Trillet of First Baptist Church in Horn Lake, for instance, said his services this month have included an Advent moment.
“At a minimum, we do take time out of the service, observe the lighting of the Advent candle and have a prayer surrounding that,” said Trillet. “At the most, in the past I have geared my sermons and the music completely around that so that the Advent season becomes the key for what we’re doing. It’s more than a passing glance.”
The word Advent is derived from a Latin word that means “coming.” Trillet said he sees similarities in Advent to the Lenten season before Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. He said Advent may be used to remember both what has happened and what will happen.
“We look back at Christ’s coming, we look back at the celebration, we look back at the birth and we celebrate the Savior intervening into the world,” Trillet said. “Christmas is almost a dual purpose holiday, a dual purpose celebration. We look back at His birth but at the same time we look forward to his coming. With Advent, we are anticipating an event that’s already happened which can change our lives forever, but we’re anticipating an event that’s going to happen which will change our lives forever. “
Candles are a major part of each Advent Sunday service. The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839 and featured 20 candles on a wreath made out of a cart wheel.
Today, four candles surrounding a white central candle in a wreath are found when observing Advent. Traditions vary on the color and meaning of each of the candles and the white candle in the middle is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Trillet said Advent helps Christians set their minds to properly make ready for Christmas and move away from the commercialization of the holiday.
“We may think of the big beginning of the Christmas season as being Black Friday as a culture and that is the most hectic day of the entire year for everyone in America,” Trillet noted. “Either you want to stay at home and watch a game or you’re in the bustle of Black Friday. We would have the tendency to push Christ out of Christmas with simply busyness, but Advent is wanting to slow us down and center our hearts and minds onto truly a Savior.”
This Sunday is the last Sunday in Advent, marking the final preparations for what is to come on Christmas, this Tuesday.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.