Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Advent

Growing up, I had never heard the term Advent.
I was completely grown and had experienced the Christmas season in several different churches. Yet, advent was not a part of any of them.  And I really don’t know the history behind it. Is an advent calendar the same or is it different than counting down to Christmas?
I don’t know if this tradition is exclusive to just a few denominations, the church I attend has included this tradition in every Christmas season that I have attended (8 years), or not, but it seems like I see more and more on it.
So this year, I am learning more. I am seeking to see if a tradition can be added to our personal experience during the Christmas season, rather than just Sundays with the lighting of the candles. And I have to say, this has been an interesting topic.
Turns out the season of Advent goes back to the early church, 1st and 2nd century. While an exact date is not actually known, the traditions can be traced back to this time.  Early Christian's focus during this season was:
  • Remember the coming of the Son of God to earth in human form as a babe in the manger
  • The coming of Jesus into the lives and hearts and actions of those that accepted Him as their Savior
  • The future coming when Jesus will return to the earth as a king - "O come, O come, Emmanuel
Many traditions have evolved over the centuries, in various regions, that aided in keeping the reason for the season, the reason. At the same time, most Western Churches ceased to practice or observe the tradition, thus the reason for this seeming so foreign to me - I had attended those that did not.  While the church I attend now does, I came in not at the beginning of a new tradition but one that was already established and one that I did not fully understand. I thought it was just something unique and creative to this church, not knowing it was set in a very long tradition for many Christians.

Candles and wreaths and calendars...I did have a calendar growing up, and I do remember the paper chains. I don't remember them having any symbolism beyond a day closer to the receiving of gifts and the jolly, rosy cheeked chap that would sneak in during the night to leave wonderful things kids dream of.

But now, I wish I had known more about the season of Advent as Advent. I wish so many churches had not turned away from the Advent tradition. What a great way to guide families through the hustle and bustle of the season while showing clearly where the joy, anticipation, caring, and giving (not necessarily materially, not necessarily not) should be centered.

Searching through the stories and traditions is giving me what I needed this season. A lighted path to what I hope to add to our Christmas season days over the next month.

Do you observe Advent? Do you have a personal tradition that is considered an Advent tradition?

7 comments:

Kerry said...

I stumbled onto your blog today. I grew up in a tradition that did observe Advent (Episcopalian), but my family never did anything in the home with Advent. I did have "countdown"-type Advent calendars...but like you, nothing religious.

As I began to really grow into my faith as an adult with my own family, a REAL Advent has become part of our family traditions. Now I LOVE Advent! A few years ago I started an Advent Carnival. You might enjoy reading through my archives to learn more. Lots of good stuff there from many bloggers. (http://theten0clockscholar.blogspot.com/search?q=Advent+carnival&updated-max=2010-01-01T08:00:00-05:00&max-results=20)

This year I'm doing another carnival, but slightly different format (that will be the first post in the link above). I'll have a weekly link-up (Mr Linky). I'd love it if you'd consider submitting this post to this week's carnival! (See the Mr Linky at the end of this post: http://theten0clockscholar.blogspot.com/2011/11/keeping-advent-nov-13th.html

And if you post more about Advent (I know people would love reading about what you are learning!), maybe you'll submit again?

This carnival is actually a "Nativity Season" carnival, so it will run the whole Advent and Christmas Season (12 days of Christmas from Dec 25th to Jan 5th).

Blessings!

Finding Pam said...

My church celebrates Advent. Growing up I never experienced many traditions, but I like this one.

Rebeca said...

May you have a wonderful and blessed advent!

beach babies said...

Greetings! I am so inspired by all these people (including myself) who are digging more into Advent. I have been to a zillion different Protestant churches, but grew up mainly Presbyterian where we observed the Sundays of Advent.

Never did I fully understand the whole gig until I became an Orthodox Christian about 6 years ago (actually, I'm still learning. . .).

Here are a few more links regarding the history and purpose of Advent (including the reason for the Fasting part of it which most Protestant churches do not include).

http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com/2011/11/nativity-fast.html

http://www.antiochian.org/NativityFast

Here's something that explains the link between Michaelmas and the word 'Advent':

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Martin%27s_Day

Hopefully this is not overkill!!! I can get a bit zealous about such things. . .

A blessed Advent to you!!!!!

Sandi McBride said...

My Advent Calandar is so old that I need to make some repairs to the gingham doors that we open to view the scene depicted within...I love Advent nearly as much as the Day itself...it's the anticipation, don't you see? Like waiting for a birth...which we are...I'll be wishing you a Merry Christmas soon!
hugs
Sandi

Chatty Crone said...

At our church we celebrate Advent. The four Sundays before Christmas. There are four candles and then one more for Christmas. Certain families are asked to light the candles each Sunday and then read an advent story and what week it is.

It is nice to have traditions.

Sandie

Sandi McBride said...

I can't believe it, but I have started up a second blog and hope to see you drop by! Clicking on my name should bring you to my web...er site...it's run by felines...
hugs
Sandi