Advent: Time of anticipation and preparation for Christmas

LOGAN–Since childhood, Christmas has always seemed to hold a lot of meaning. From the story of St. Nicholas who braved the winter bringing children gifts to the biblical story of Christ’s birth, there are many different things celebrated during the Christmas season. Advent is a tradition that’s talked about a lot during December, but not many people outside of Christian churches know what advent really is. Many people are familiar with advent calendars or even advent wreaths, but they often aren’t sure of what it symbolizes. “Advent is a season of preparation to celebrate the coming of Christ,” said Corinne Thul, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan. “We celebrate this birth and the promise of Christ’s second coming.” The story of the birth of Christ is told in four books of the Bible also known as the four gospels. Thul said advent marks the start of the church’s liturgical year. Each year’s readings cycle through three of the four gospels: Mathew, Mark and Luke. This year she said the church will be focusing on the book of Luke, which is known for citing women and healing. Every Sunday, starting from the first Sunday in December, Thul said their church lights a candle on the advent wreath and reads from what is called the Revised Common Lectionary. The lectionary is three years worth of planned out readings. For each week of advent the lectionary gives a reading from one of the gospels, the Old Testament, the book of Psalms and the New Testament. The advent wreath, Thul said, has four candles with each representing a week during advent. Each week a candle is lit until the Sunday before Christmas, when all four candles are lit. The candles are either all blue, symbolizing hope, or three purple and one pink, symbolizing royalty and joy. The advent wreath is a symbol of increasing light and hope during a dark time. Thul said different religions may vary in how they celebrate advent, but for the most part the celebration of advent is fairly uniform. During advent, she said, the congregation doesn’t encourage the celebration of Christmas, in order to prepare excitement for the celebration of Christ’s birth and his second coming. Christmas Eve, she said, is the highest holy day in the church. Christmas Eve is celebrated through a candlelight service where every candle on the advent wreath is lit and Christmas carols are sung with the congregation. Thul said many people in the church celebrate advent at home with advent calendars marking each day until Christmas. Many different kinds of calendars can be purchased in stores that include opening a door each day of December revealing a small chocolate inside, or a magnetized tree where each magnet represents a day until the tree is fully decorated by Christmas Eve. Many families have fun counting down the days to Christmas, she said.

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