Advent is upon us!  Like Lent and Holy Week, advent is a special time in the church calendar where different themes, practices and scriptures are highlighted. We at the SPS blog want to feature the Advent season and emphasize what we find most meaningful in the weeks approaching and anticipating Christmas.

When I was a kid there were at least two days that I would attend church with my grandparents; both were in Advent.  My sister and I usually got to light a candle for one of the Sundays of Advent.  In the Presbyterian tradition Advent is celebrated by candle lighting: three purple candles signifying hope, peace and joy, one pink candle symbolic of love and in the center one white candle which is lit on Christmas eve to signify the coming of Christ.  Christmas eve was the other service that I always attended where everyone would get to hold a candle lit from the Christ candle.

This spreading of Christ’s light is a beautiful way to celebrate advent.  Eugene Peterson writes in the message from the Gospel of John 1:2-5

The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.  Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

In Advent we stand with Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon and Anna, and even the prophets like Isaiah who eagerly anticipated the coming of the Life-Light.  We wait for the light to fill up our lives and banish the darkness in our world.  We also pray with Henri Nouwen a prayer for Advent and triumph of Christ.

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”


  1. Shannon

    I love the idea of lighting candles each week of advent. There’s something more soveriegn and solumn about the act of lighting the candle, and watching the flame it’s easier to reflect upon the light that Christ is within us.

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