The Season of Advent November 30th to December25th .

Symbolism and Tradition

Advent, marks the beginning of the Christian calendar for many Christians : Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Moravians, Presbyterians, Methodists with notable exceptions such as the Coptic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches.

It is celebrated on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, December 25th as we wait expectantly for the birth of Jesus Christ and the nativity. In ancient times it was a period of strict fasting and penitence similar to Lent except for the third Sunday when fast was relaxed during the Gaudette Sunday-Sunday of Joy.

The placement of the Advent wreath, a circular ever green candle holder  with five candles follows a long standing tradition. Typically, one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday, and the fifth is lit on Christmas Eve. At St. Bartholomew’s we us the traditional three colors for the candles, purple, pink, and white.

A special prayer, with emphasis on the spiritual tenet of the day is said by the Leader and the congregation before each candle is lit often by the youth.

For example readings for the first Sunday in Advent relate to the old testament patriarchs who were Christ's ancestors, so the first advent candle is that of Hope.

Summarizing purple color candles signifying Hope, Peace, Love, are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent respectively. The third candle a pink candle representing Joy is lighted on the third Sunday; while the White Christ candle is lit during the Christmas Eve service.

Preparation for Christmas during the four weeks of Advent is an opportunity to reflect on God’s gifts to us the greatest being his son Jesus Christ, a time for frequent prayer, to be thankful for and cherish family and friends.

In the secular world, it can be related to the four weeks of shopping after Black Friday. Many families wait expectantly for donations of clothing, gifts, to lessen chances of receiving nothing many including our parish help with the Samaritan boxes and donations in kind and gifts to organizations.

There is no offence nor transgression in planning for Christmas with shopping and celebrations with friends, family, fellow employees, once it does not supersede the reason of Christmas. The birth of Christ… best celebrated in praise, carols and prayer at your church.

June M.James,O.M,M.D.