Advent begins four Sundays out from Christmas Day and is the start of the liturgical year for the church.
The word Advent is a Latin term meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. The season marks the birth of Christ but also celebrates what that means in the lives of Christians anticipating the second coming, or advent, of Jesus.
In churches, Advent Sundays are sometimes marked by the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath and with the display or wearing of the colour purple, signifying royalty.
At Wesley Uniting Church in Melbourne, the congregation presented their minster Rev Alistair Macrae with a new purple stole at their Advent service on Sunday. The stole was adorned with Easter and Christmas symbols. It was designed by congregation member Jan Harris and embroidered by Margaret Grinton from Burwood Heights Uniting Church.
In her moderator’s reflection this month, Rev Sharon Hollis examines the significance of Advent for Christians.
“Advent invites us to a season of waiting, slowing down, and keeping our eyes open,” Ms Hollis writes.
“We slow down in order to see the many places God’s life is being born in us, in our world, and in the church.
“The stories of Advent show us the ways this happen and invite us to become participants in these stories.”
For those who want to take part in this slowing down to consider, celebrate and participate in the significance of Christ’s arrival, there are plenty of helpful suggestions and resources offered by church agencies.
The Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM) has published intergenerational lectionary-based resources from the Victorian Council of Christian Education on their website. These are designed to be accessible to people of all ages, with music, art, activities and readings for children and adults. New resources will be uploaded every week.
CTM staff have also handpicked a range of videos, podcasts, music suggestions, books, and theological reflections to guide you on your Christmas journey. Be sure to check out the CTM Resourcing site for more material.
For congregations looking for liturgical inspiration, UnitingWorld has prepared resources that reflect on the traditional themes of Advent: joy, hope, peace and love. They include Powerpoint slides and a good news story from an overseas church community, accompanied by videos and photos.
UnitingWorld is also running a ‘Love over Tinsel’ challenge which details 25 daily actions you can take during Advent, starting from 1 December.
Image: Adam Russell/Flickr