First Sunday in Advent

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. . . This song has been running through my mind this weekend as I put up a Christmas tree with my boys and prepared for our Sunday worship group. The light dusting of snow seems to have transformed the neighbourhood and the lights along the rooftops shine boldly. The stores mark this season with decorations, outrageous sales to entice every frugal shopper, and repetitive carols. Everyone seems to be gearing up for Christmas. How does the Christian Church prepare? Traditionally, churches that follow a liturgical calendar enter into the season of Advent. Candles are lit, carols are sung and we are reminded that this is a time to spiritually prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. We anticipate Christmas Day as the day our saviour was born, but we also recognize that we are living in Advent as we wait for his return. This tradition is rich in symbolism.

The goal for Advent at HCM this year is to experience this symbolism and anticipation in a hands on way. I want to do more than just talk about it– I want our members to take a piece of Advent home with them each week in a very concrete way. Last night we began our Advent season by making an advent wreath of meaning.

The wreath itself is very meaningful and although we used very simple, easy to locate materials the final products were beautiful as they symbolized a connection made to this wonderful season.

Here’s what we learned:

A wreath is a circle and just like God it has no beginning and no end. God is both Alpha and Omega. He is the same through the ages and his love endures FOREVER!

The greenery used to decorate the wreath is “EVERgreen“. It never dies and therefore symbolizes and helps us to remember eternity.

We added a bow to help us remember that God’s son was a gift: “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son and whoever believes in him will have EVERLASTING life.” (John 3:16) When we accept the gift we are ‘evergreen’!

There were red berries to help us remember that the baby that we are remembering grew up into a man who died for us. The berries remind us that this baby is our saviour and through his blood we are clean.

We added candles. Four candles to represent the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day and then a Christ candle for Christmas. Jesus is the light of the world. Every week we are lighting more candles and as we get closer to the day of Christ’s birth, the light gets brighter.

It was fun to see hands busy at work and hear the excited conversations that happen. This activity was simple and the meanings are simple. I am constantly reminded though, that sometimes it is the simple things that are actually most profound.

Embrace the Advent season– find a way to make this a ‘hands-on’ time!

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