Advent is the beginning of the Church’s Year.
It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
The word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’.
The focus of the entire season is the celebration of Jesus’ birth on the first Advent, and the anticipation of his return.
So, Advent is more than simply marking a 2,000 year-old event in history. It is a double focus on past and future.
Advent symbolises the spiritual journey of individuals as they affirm that Christ has come, that he is present in the world today, and that he will come again in power and glory.
The Advent calendar is a popular way to mark this season with windows that can be opened, one each day, to reveal some symbol associated with the story leading up to the birth of Jesus – not to miss the chocolates, of course!
The Advent evergreen ring is another popular symbol used in many churches. It is circular with four candles around the rim and one in the centre.
The ring reminds us of God himself, his eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end.
Candles symbolise the light of God coming into the world through the birth of his Son.
The four outside candles usually denote characters or themes as the story of Advent unfolds.
It remembers the patriarchs and prophets, John the Baptist and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It directs attention to celebration and worship.
The central candle is lit on Christmas Day to remind us that Jesus is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. He is the light that shines in the darkness.
Advent is about hope and new life – it’s about strength and courage.
It demonstrates how much God loved the world when he sent his Son.