This Sunday will begin the season of Advent. We celebrate four weeks of Advent to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of Christ. One practice that can help develop a deeper connection to the meaning of Christmas is to focus on a certain value each week. This Sunday we will light the first candle of the Advent wreath. Traditionally it carries a meaning of hope. We light a candle for hope because the Light of the World brought us everlasting hope. The second Sunday of Advent we will light the candle for faith. Faith is trusting in God’s everlasting love for us as His children. The third Sunday of Advent is often represented by a pink candle in the Advent wreath. The third Sunday has a special name; it is called Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is the Latin word for “rejoice”. It is also a Sunday to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1:46-49, we have the beautiful words of Mary singing of her joy at being part of God’s work in the world:
“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And finally, the fourth Sunday (the last Sunday before Christmas) we light the candle for peace. There is a peace that comes from Christ that goes beyond the world’s understanding.
Each week of Advent, focus on how Christ brings that week’s value into your life.
Week one – Remember a time where hope got you through a difficult situation. Ask yourself if you are in need of hope right now.
Week two – Faith is trusting in God’s love for you – do you? How did you first come to know of God’s love for you? Are you sharing that love of God with others?
Week three – When have you known the deepest joy in life? How is your joy making a difference in the world?
Week four – What does “peace” mean to you? How can you better experience peace in the Christmas season?
The season of Advent is all for you – so that you can better experience the greatest gift. Prepare your minds, hearts, and lives for the birth of Jesus. And let hope, faith, joy, and peace be born anew into your life this year!