Encouragement for the Journey
Greetings Advent traveller,
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the word Advent, derives from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning coming and the root word of wait in Latin and Hebrew, and also means ‘hope’. Advent is a season of preparation, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, it is a time to recall our hope and expectancy in Christ, we await the coming of Jesus and to signify this, we light an Advent wreath.
In the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples, we find the origins of the Advent wreath. Who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, would gather wreaths of evergreen and lit fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and lighter months. Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th Century, Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world.
The circle of the wreath reminds us of God’s, eternal presence, no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of life. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus.
The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, each symbolises a different aspect of our journey, hope, joy, peace, and love.
This week we mention hope, which we all need today. Yet the hope of Advent is not like other kinds of hope. We can hope for a good summer, or the price of petrol will not increase. However, honestly, we cannot be sure of any of these things. Advent hope empowers us to live today with greater enthusiasm and expectancy in the Christ who is present, yet is always coming and found in the most unlikely people and places. I leave you with this delightful poem:
“Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all. “
Emily Dickinson US poet (1830 – 1886)