Advent describes the time in the Church’s calendar when we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming at Christmas. For many countries preparations for Christmas seem to begin in September. But, for the Church, it is during the four Sundays before Christmas Day that we reflect with anticipation on the promises of Christ’s coming and face the doubts which make us fear God does not care for his world. Then on Christmas we can gather in joy to discover again the good new at the heart of our faith, good news we can share daily in word and action in our communities
Traditionally the Advent Sundays are marked by lighting a candle each week to awaken our hope in Jesus, the light who is coming into the world. As the light grows so does our anticipation and we see in it our common calling with Christ to be light to the world. Often the four candles for the Advent Sundays are one colour and the one for Christmas Day another.
CWM has produced these Advent reflections which could be used in church or at home. If they are used in public worship as a part of Sunday service, we have suggested that a song could be sung after the candle lighting. This would be for the worship leader to choose. Often these words are led by different groups or families in the church and they have been set out with words in bold print which the whole congregation can say. But, in any case people should feel free to adapt to use these words as they see fit in their context.
All around the world the Christian family celebrates the hope of Jesus’ birth. But, the Angel’s global vision of peace is sorely tested in our days, and the tender dawn of mercy that Zechariah anticipated (Luke 1: 78) seems a long way off. In such difficult times, we need words and symbols of hope rooted in our story and calling. We hope that these prayers will stir up again hope in difficult times and contexts and help us see again the coming of Christ to bring fullness of life for all creation and understand that there is place for us at the manger as partners in the mission God sends Jesus to embody.