Advent is the first season of the church year, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through the day before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” It marks the beginning of the liturgical year because it is where the story, our sacred story begins. The color for this season is blue or purple.
In the season of Advent, we remember the many years that the people of God waited for the long-prophesied Messiah, who arrived through the birth of Jesus. During this season, we assume a posture of waiting. We choose to enter the story as it happened for those who came before us: with anticipation, with groaning, with longing, with hope.
It is not a new practice for us to wait in the dark. We, too, live in a world of shadows. We, too, trust in a future victorious day. We, too, cling with a stubborn hope to what God has promised: the return of our coming King. Advent is a time for us to practice the “already but not yet” in-between time of waiting with wonder, faith, and hope.
Advent Wreath Readings & Prayers
An Advent wreath is customarily a circle of greens, sometimes with berries and blue or purple and pink ribbons, with four candles around the circumference. These may be all white, or three blue/purple and one pink. Blue/purple symbolizes a time or prayer, penance, and sacrifice. The pink candle for Rose or Gaudete Sunday is lit on third Sunday of Advent, which is also sometimes dedicated to Mary. Gaudete Sunday is one of joy, calling us to rejoice in hope.
Readings and prayers for use with an Advent wreath:
Week of 1 Advent
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Matthew 24:42-44)
Come, O Holy One,
as the morning light after a wakeful night!
Keep us mindful that at any moment you may ask of us
an accounting of our lives;
help us to love you and love one another in all we do,
and so clothe us with your light
that we may bring others to love you also,
through Jesus our Savior. Amen.
Week of 2 Advent
The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (Luke 3:2b-6)
Come, O Holy One,
as the water of life and refiner's fire!
Strengthen us with courage for your work of justice
that in all the creation and among every people
your peace may be established
and your joy abound,
through Jesus our Deliverer. Amen.
Week of 3 Advent
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16)
Come, O Holy One,
breaker of chains and renewer of life!
Open our eyes to your presence in all the earth.
Stir us to proclaim gladly the signs of your love:
the liberation of those oppressed,
the healing of those frail and broken,
springs of water in all the parched places,
and Jesus Christ risen and alive, through whom we pray. Amen.
Week of 4 Advent
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:39-42)
Come, O Holy One, as the beloved child, Emmanuel!
Soften our hearts and open our arms for your coming
that we may make this a place worthy and warm,
kindly and safe for all your children,
in the name of Jesus. Amen.