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What Is Advent?

December 18, 2016

​What Is Advent?
The History of Advent

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” 

Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1). Originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world.
It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Advent Today

Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. (Advent begins on the Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year.) 
The twelve-day celebration is also known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which is often sung about today and refers to the holy days of the liturgic Christian calendar within the orthodox church, hence it’s where we get our phrase “Happy Holidays”
Advent Trivia

1. Traditionally, Advent calendars have how many candles on an evergreen wreath? Answer: FIVE
2. What are the candle colors traditionally used on the Advent calendar wreath? Answer: Three purple, one pink and one white.
3. What does each of the candles and the wreath represent? Answer: The first candle lit is a purple candle is known as the Prophecy candle, representing hope or expectation of the coming Messiah. The second candle lit is another purple candle and is known as the Bethlehem candle, representing love and Christ’s birth. The third candle lit is pink, and is known as the Shepherds’ candle, representing joy. The forth candle lit is purple again, known as the angel candle, representing peace. Finally, on Christmas eve, the white candle is lit and is known as the Christ candle, representing Christ, the Light of the World. The evergreen wreath represents eternal life.

The Twelve Days of Christmas 

The Meanings 
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

A Partridge in a Pear Tree 

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . .” (Luke 13:34) 
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Two Turtle Doves 

The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world. 
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Three French Hens 

The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13) 
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Four Calling Birds 

The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God’s reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ. 
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Five Gold Rings 

The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity’s sinful failure and God’s response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world. 
On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Six Geese A-laying 

The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1). 

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Seven Swans A-swimming 

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11) 
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Eight Maids A-milking 

The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:3-10) 
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Nine Ladies Dancing 

The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 

6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) 
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Ten Lords A-leaping 

The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God’s name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17) 
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Eleven Pipers Piping 

The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans. 
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 

Twelve Drummers Drumming 

The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of power. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays All!

References:

http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html

“Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

http://www.articleseen.com/Article_the-meaning-of-the-twelve-days-of-christmas_119672.aspx

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