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Welcome to Advent!


Advent is a season in the church year that focuses on Christ’s coming.  (Its name comes from the Latin words adventum and adventus, which mean “coming” and “arrival”.)

Advent is a season of preparation.  Most obviously, it is a time to prepare for Christmas.  For some, it is a time to decorate (we see creche scenes, the evergreen garlands and Christmas trees start to appear!), to hold special events, and to share special baking of the season.  All that can be good and fun.

But Advent is about more than just getting ready for Christmas.  Advent offers us time to prepare our hearts and minds for God’s presence in Christ.  During Advent, we are invited to slow down, reflect and wait in hopeful expectation for Christ coming – remembering the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem long ago, but also recognizing Christ’s continual coming to us in our lives, and even anticipating Christ’s promised future coming.

Traditionally, Advent is observed through the lighting of candles on an evergreen Advent wreath. The evergreen wreath itself is a symbol of eternity and unending love, while the candles lit each week symbolize the light of Christ that comes into the world.   This year they are accompanied by the Heralds of Christmas: The Prophets, the Angels, the Shepherds and the Magi.

The liturgical colour of Advent is purple, or blue.

Moderator’s Advent Message 2019

(Transcript of Videotaped Message)

Christ’s peace be with you!

My name is Richard Bott. I’m the Moderator of The United Church of Canada.

I’m a pretty fair cook. I have a lot of fun opening up the fridge, seeing what I have inside, and coming up with combinations that, hopefully, go together. Most of the time, I don’t do too badly.

But not so with baking. Baking is my downfall. It doesn’t matter how close I stay to the recipe, how exact I am in setting the temperature of the oven, how fresh my ingredients are…my cookies never taste (or feel) quite like I think they should.

They’re just not like the ones Mom makes.

I’m starting to wonder, though, if that’s a problem with my baking—or if it’s a problem with my memory. There’s no bottle labelled “nostalgia” in my spice rack. The “Ghost of Christmas Cookies Past” may be getting in the way of my Christmas Cookies Present.

There are some things in my faith life that may have the same issue. As we look towards the season of Christmas, it’s often a time filled with patterns and habits and traditions and—sometimes—a sense that it’s not quite…right. Not quite what it used to feel like. Not quite what we’re expecting.

That feeling is part of the reason I appreciate the season we’re about to enter—the season of Advent. We sometimes think of this season as a time of waiting or a time of preparation. I think it’s also a season of unwrapping. Not necessarily the unwrapping of things new, but the unwrapping of things old. It’s like getting the box of decorations out of the closet and remembering where each came from and what they mean now, as they’re hung on the tree.

For me, Advent is a time to do that with my faith, as well—to pull out some of the things that are dear to me, to carefully shake off the dust, and to see them in the light of our life here and now.