HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
December 11, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

A favorite time of year

Dr. Phil Goeffrion, Albion Evangelical Free Church, Cokato

Advent is my favorite time of the year. The decorations and the ceremonial lighting of the candles of the Advent wreaths at church and home are most enjoyable and significant.

Advent originated in the fourth century as a period of penance and preparation for baptisms at Epiphany (Jan. 6). In the sixth century, Advent was moved to the four-week period before Christmas Day, and a special liturgy was added.

Then, in the ninth and 10th centuries, Advent’s meaning was broadened to include the expectation of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Advent is important as a time of preparation for the coming Messiah, a time for individual spiritual renewal, and a time for family togetherness.

It is a special time for the Geoffrion family. Each year, we eagerly unpack our Advent wreath and place it on our living room coffee table. Our hand-carved olivewood crèche (which I purchased in Bethlehem 23 years ago) is displayed on our piano.

When our kids were still at home, I can remember gathering each night to light the appropriate number of candles, read an Advent thought, sing a carol, and offer a prayer. The kids would take turns reading Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament, and snuffing out the candles in what became a family tradition.

Why don’t you make an Advent wreath and start (or continue) a worthwhile family tradition? They are readily available in stores, or you may simply use wire hoop with four candle holders as a foundation. Tie some evergreen branches to the hoop with thread or thin wire, add decorations like pine cones or holly berries, and insert four candles into the holes.

Three purple candles represent penitence and royalty, and one rose candle (lit during the third week) stands for joy and remind us of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon.

Some people prefer all red or all white candles. A larger white candle in the middle of the wreath is a fit representation of Jesus, the pure, spotless Lamb of God.

Every night during the first week, you light one candle while you engage in various activities and forms of celebration. The second week, you light the first and second candle, and so on.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, with all four candles brightly burning, you then dramatically light the central candle to signal the arrival of Christ our Lord.

Be creative. Choose activities you enjoy. Set aside a convenient time once a day (or once a week, at least).

Whatever you do, make Advent in the year of our Lord 2006 a most meaningful and memorable celebration.

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