Twelve Days of Advent?
As a child I sang at Christmas time the "Twelve Days of Christmas"; I am sure you did as well. However, we are in the season of Advent, despite all of the commercials and songs being played on the radio. Advent marks the beginning of the church calendar. It is, therefore, premature, although I will continue to do so, to sing Christmas songs and carols until it is Christmas.
Advent serves to prepare us for the coming celebration of Christ's birth. We do not have twelve days of Advent, we have the twelve days of Christmas (December 25-January 5), ending on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany.
During Advent, we notice that the liturgical paraments and the vestments worn by Pastor Bill change. This change in color is recognition that Advent is a time of preparation and repentance as well as a symbol of the royalty of the coming King. The color blue is also used as a symbol of anticipation and hope.
The traditional use of Advent candles originated in eastern Germany as a sign of the waiting and hopeful expectation of the return in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. As this tradition came down to us by the beginning of this century, it involved three blue candles and one pink candle. The pink candle was the third candle to be lit (not the fourth) on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. "Gaudete" means "Rejoice!" in Latin, which is taken from Philippians 4:4. Hence a "pink" candle was used to signify "rejoicing." Other traditions use “Joy” for the meaning of the third candle to remind us that Advent is almost at an end and we can hardly contain our joy! It is appropriate that the children’s program is the third Sunday in Advent this year.
Advent makes us ponder the question - how are we preparing for the coming King? Are we preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior or just hurrying to get gifts for loved ones?
Here are some of the traditional beliefs for the twelve days of Christmas:
· December 25: the day to celebrate the word made flesh with the birth of Jesus
· December 26 is the feast of St. Stephen—a traditional day for giving leftovers to the poor (as described in the carol "Good King Wenceslas").
· On Epiphany (January 6), the celebration of Christmas comes to an end. Epiphany commemorates the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel—Christ's manifestation to the nations.
We have four Sundays in Advent and a service on Wednesday nights as well. It is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming birth. We are then able to celebrate that miraculous birth for twelve days and sing all of our favorite Christmas hymns and songs. During the church service only the Christ candle, the center white candle, remains from the Advent wreath.
We look forward to seeing you on Wednesdays and Sundays in Advent. Check here for our holiday service times!