Advent is about ‘cleaning house’ and making ready for a special guest
Christians should always be in a state of readiness, but just in case, now is the time people should definitely be “cleaning house,” and buying new things, readying themselves for a special guest who is coming to town. Advent, a four-week season of reflection and repentance, is a prelude to one of the great feasts of the Christian church — Christmas.
It’s one of the two penitential seasons on the church calendar, when Christians should spend time in deep reflection as the world prepares for the glorious Christmas season and the coming of the Christ-child. The season starts on Sunday, November 27 — four weeks before Christmas.
“Advent is a time of preparation. It is a time to get yourself ready. It is time to repent for your sins and get your life in order,” says Father Shazzabazzar Turnquest, rector of St. Luke’s parish in Rock Sound, Eleuthera. “This is a season when the church takes down all things festive like flowers and decorations. ‘Singing Hallelujah’ or ‘Gloria’ is also eliminated from the services. The songs and hymns set aside for this time of the year are also more solemn and talk about the preparation of the soul and the warnings that John the Baptist gave on the river bank. It is a time where Christians take time to truly look within and prepare for one of the greatest seasons of the year.”
Since no one knows the time or the hour the Lord will come it is essential to always be in a state of readiness, but the season of Advent particularly highlights the need to be spiritually prepared.
“Every person should acknowledge this time because it is a marvelous thing that the Lord had done and this is a time for us to reflect on his goodness,” says Fr. Turnquest.
Although Advent is a low period in the church it is not all solemn and mournful. It is instead a time of quiet anticipation for a great joy and love that is to come. It also marks the beginning of the church’s new year. And can be overlooked by people because it is the season right before Christmas, as such, many people use this sacred time to celebrate and get caught up in the commercial side of the upcoming festival. They neglect the true meaning of the Advent season.
“At this time you should be reflecting on the goodness of God and the great miracle of the Christmas story,” says Father Alain Laverne, rector at Our Lady’s Roman Catholic Church on Deveaux Street. “Instead of focusing on shopping and pre-Christmas merrymaking, this time should be used to prepare spiritually and draw closer to God.”
The season also has its own special feature — the Advent wreath which is used to express the passing of time during the four weeks. It is an evergreen ring with four
candles in it. The circle represents the eternal cycle of the seasons. Each candle has its own meaning as well — three are purple which represent royalty and one is pink representing joy. As each week passes, one candle is lit. The first two and last candles to be lit are the purple ones while the rose-colored candle is lit on the third week of Advent called Gaudete Sunday or Joyful Sunday. It is a break from the solemnity and marks that the time is near for the nativity of Christ.
“This is truly a rich season and I do hope more people can appreciate the beauty of it and how important it is to celebrate the season the way it was meant to be,” said Father Laverne.
This is a time in the Catholic church when missions and retreats are scheduled to give people opportunities to reflect and reconcile with their brothers and sisters. It is also a time when confessions and visitations are even more important because as a part of reconciliation people need to admit their wrong and be forgiven.
Seeking the grace of God and committing to him wholeheartedly should be the focus for Christians this Advent season according to Pastor Henley Perry, minister at Grace and Peace Methodist Church. He says this is a time to reaffirm your faith and show a deeper appreciation for the Christian church because it is faith that is steeped in history and great works.
“Advent is another wonderful time to put the focus on God. This is something Christians should be doing all the time, but there are times when you lose focus. This is the time to remember what it is to be a Christian and the goodness of God who has blessed us and shown us mercy. This is a time to reflect on what is to come and to acknowledge what God has done. This is a very important season to Methodists and we take the celebration of the season very seriously.”
Pastor Perry advises all professing Christians to take the time to give thanks to God for all He has given them and to appreciate the solemnity and anticipation of the season.
“Do not get so caught up in the pre-Christmas rush that you forget to slow down and really reflect on your life and where you want to be in this new church year. Afterall, inner reflection and reconnecting with God is what this time is about,” he says.