The word “advent” stems from the Latin “adventus” which has a literal meaning of coming. In its broadest sense the concept is used to indicate the arrival of some person, event or thing of significance.
For the Christian, the term advent is used to celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ as a baby, but also as he arrives today in the lives of those who call him Savior as well as when he literally comes again.
For the church, the season of Advent is a time of preparation as it readies itself for the celebration of Christmas – when Christ first came.
According to Michael Otterstatter, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls, the Advent celebration has its roots, as do many of the Christian traditions in the Roman Catholic Church. It was Pope Gregory the Great who in the late 500s A.D. established the four Sundays prior to Christmas as a time of preparation for the Lord’s coming – the advent.
“Advent for us is a time of preparation,” said Otterstatter, adding it is a time of repentance and joy.
Otterstatter said the season of Advent today provides for the Christian a bit of a respite from the commercialism of the season and allows those who believe in the meaning of the Christmas season to focus on that meaning.
That celebration takes various forms in different faith traditions, but Otterstatter said in most cases there are some things that take place from one congregation to another.
One of those traditions is the lighting of candles. Otterstatter said historically it seems the addition of candle lighting was added as a European influence as a demonstration of Christ’s bringing light into a dark world. He said there are legends that indicate part of the reason the light was added was to address the pagan sun rituals surrounding the winter solstice when different groups believed lighting fires was a way to help bring the sun back in a time of the year when the son is more absent than present.
For the Christian faith, then the lighting of the candle helps prepare the believer for the coming of the Son – the one who brings true light into the world of darkness.
While candle lighting is a common tradition, the use of colors in the candles varies. Some churches primarily use purple candles, which are a color of repentance, while others include blue candles, which symbolize the joy of the season. The white candle, which is known as the Christ candle, symbolizes the presence of the light of the world.
Pink, or rose candles often are used to depict the coming light, as the rose color brings more white into the purple.
Page 2 of 2 - The traditions of Advent are nice, said Otterstatter, so long as they do not become a barrier to the real reason to celebrate – the fact that Jesus Christ came as a free gift to the world.
What follows is a list of services being held at area churches during the Advent season:
• St. John Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls is hosting Wed-nesday services Dec. 5, 12 and 19 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The theme is “Let Every Heart Prepare a Throne” and focuses on preparing hearts to receive Jesus as king.
• Redwood Central Lutheran Church is hosting Wednesday night services Dec. 5, 12 and 19 as they prepare the royal highway. The services are at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Wabasso at 7 p.m.
• St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Red-wood Falls is hosting special penance services Dec. 16 at 11 a.m. and Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.
• St. John Lutheran Church in Vesta is hosting services Wednesday nights Dec. 5, 12 and 19 at 7 p.m.
• Grace Lutheran Church in Belview is hosting Advent services Wednesday nights Dec. 5, 12, and 19 at 7:30 p.m.
• Our Savior’s Luth-eran Church in Belview is hosting services Wednesdays Dec. 5, 12, and 19 at 7 p.m.
• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls is hosting a WELCA Advent brunch this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend Advent services to help focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Information regarding upcoming children’s Christmas programs, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day programs needs to be sent to the Gazette as soon as is possible. Send times, dates, locations and other pertinent info to firstname.lastname@example.org, drop it by the office during regular business hours or call (507) 637-2929.