Response: December 2014 Issue

Journal through the Season of Advent

Journal through  the Season of Advent

The Holy season of Advent—which begins Nov. 30 and ends Dec. 24, Christmas Eve—is here again! This is my favorite time of year, because Advent, for the Christian, is a time of faithful preparation, sacred expectation and hopeful anticipation—not only for the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah but also of Christ's coming again. The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning coming. In this season of light and hope as we symbolically wait for the birth of our Savior, we also anticipate and faithfully prepare for the new things that are coming, things that God will do in us and in the world around us even now.

The preparation time of Advent is not about the commercialism of a holiday season, but, rather, it is about being ready for a holy season of new dreams, new possibilities, new strategies, new plans, new methods of organizing, new outcomes, new ways of being and becoming, new ways of thinking and engaging, new joys and new hopes! In the midst of a world full of tragedy, war, hatred and injustice, we must embody the essence of this season and live out the hope of Christ in the world. Let us look deeper into the Advent story so that we can hear God's call to be vigilant and bring truth and light to the confusion that plagues our world as we engage in faithful action on behalf of women, children and youth, and walk with those who alone are not powerful enough to secure justice for themselves.

I invite you to journey with me and keep an Advent journal. We will use the four weeks of the Advent season as the focus of our journal entries. According to our Christian liturgy, each week in Advent we focus on a different attribute, and each Sunday a candle is lit on the Advent wreath to represent the coming of Christ into the world:

  • Week 1—HOPE. First Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents HOPE or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
  • Week 2—LOVE. Second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents LOVE. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger. This is God's love for the world to bring new life, light and liberation to all.
  • Week 3—JOY. Third Sunday of Advent the third purple candle is lit. This candle is called the "Shepherds Candle" and represents JOY.
  • Week 4—PEACE. Fourth Sunday is the pink candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle," represents PEACE, the peace that the angels sing of with the coming of the Messiah. On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.

In Journey to the Well, Bishop Vashti Mackenzie, the first African American woman bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, reminds us of three disciplines essential to positive change: personal investment, personal reflection and personal transformation. This Advent, let's engage these personal disciplines along with our spiritual practices of meditation, prayer and journaling to discover new ways of thinking about ourselves and the work God has called each of us to.

Using the Advent season's weekly themes of hope, love, joy and peace to journal, consider: What things am I HOPING for from/in God—and what personal investments am I willing to make to attain it? In what ways can my HOPE in God and in God's promises for humanity be enhanced through personal reflection? How do I HOPE to see personal transformation manifest in my life, in my new way of thinking about who I am in Christ and in/for the world.

The Advent season ends on Christmas Eve, but its message remains with us always;


The Rev. Dionne P. Boissière, M.Div., is chaplain at the Church Center for the United Nations.

Posted or updated: 11/25/2014 11:00:00 PM