The Celebration of Expectation and Waiting
As people begin to look for gift bargains and cheerful songs for the upcoming holidays are heard from the mall speakers, it would seem that the Christmas season is already here. For many Christians, however, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ won’t commence without going through the Advent.
When does the Advent start?
The advent starts at November 29 and continues through the eve of Christmas. Originally, the advent was a season of penitence, just like Lent, which is why the liturgical color for this celebration is purple. Aside from celebrating the birth of Christ, it is also a celebration of a start of a new year for Christians according to the liturgical seasons of the church.
It is important to note that the whole calendar of the church is actually based on the life of Jesus. So it basically tracks Jesus’s life which began even before He was born.
Notice that churches are not filled with Christmas decorations yet? According to a Catholic priest, Advent is the time for waiting and expectation. This is why Christmas decorations and music are all put on hold during the time for Advent.
What is Advent?
“Advent” came from the Latin word “adventus”, which means “arrival”. Therefore, the time of advent is the time for anticipation of the arrival of Christ in various ways. Some churches include Advent wreaths and candles during their weekly masses; lighting the first one and the next, week after week, as Christmas day approaches. Meanwhile, some Protestant churches use Chrismon trees. These trees are designed with white and gold ornaments with symbols of Christ and Christianity hanging on the tree.
Music during Advent
The music played during advent should give a “sense of expectation”. One of the most popular songs for the advent was written by John Mason Neale, entitled “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The song was based on the “O” chants or antiphons that were sung at the evening services of the church during medieval times. They are also commonly sung in monasteries. Another popular song is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley.
The best way to celebrate the Advent is to join retreats. These advent retreats are offered by most churches throughout the country. They usually include Advent readings and lectio divina, the times of silence, journal writing, and other creative activities.
Some churches, however, organize fellowship activities and worship services that focus on the exploration of joy, love, hope, and peace.