An Introduction to Advent
The seasons of the Church developed in the fourth century when the gospel was lost amidst culture wars, politics, and traditionalism. Few people could read the Bible much less afford one, painstakingly hand copied as they were. Into this fray the Church developed a liturgy for worship within seasons around the light (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany), life (Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, Pentecost) and the love (Ordinary time) of Christ’s life to reinforce the work of Jesus Christ for all to understand despite education level, race, or economic status.
These seasons still have value for us today. While nearly all of us can read and gain access to Scripture, we live again in the midst of culture wars, political power grabs, and traditionalism that rob us of the enormous resource the gospel brings for practical living and civil society.
The season of Advent (which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day) is the
Christian’s New Year Celebration! Advent means coming or arrival. This first season of the Christian year is a time to focus our attention on Jesus Christ’s birth and as well as on his Second Coming when he will return to redeem all of creation and rule with all power and authority. Since we can’t anticipate the day or the hour of Christ’s return, we are filled with both a sense of joyful expectation and humble reverence, with prayer and reflection.
Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is blue, the color of royalty, to welcome the coming of the King. This points to the important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity and the Incarnation cannot be separated from the crucifixion and the atonement.
One way that Trinity marks the time of this season is an Advent devotional guide at home and the Advent wreath at worship. Recommended Advent resources are available below. The Advent wreath symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus Christ. The wreath consists of five candles, four candles around the wreath and one white candle in the center. One candle is lit the first Sunday of Advent, two are lit the second Sunday, and so on. The light progressively reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope (Isa 42:6). Each of the candles usually have a special theme and color. The first candle is the prophecy candle; the second is the Bethlehem candle; the third is the Angels candle; the fourth is the Shepherd candle; and the center white candle is the Christ candle, lit on Christmas Day.
Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent
A phrase-by-phrase meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 that shows you how love is the Lord Jesus himself.
Twenty-two readings from Reformed pastors and theologians, past and present.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily scripture and reflections focused on Advent.
A compendium of longer devotionals written by various authors from church history to the present.
Marty Machowski, Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional
A four-week, family-friendly devotional guide that looks at the prophecies in scripture and how God fulfills them in Jesus.
Dean Lambert Smith, The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas
A fun, daily devotional combined with ornament-making that tells gospel stories for families with young children.