Advent has always been a special part of Christmas for me. Ironically it was a tradition I never associated with the Episcopal church. Instead it is a tradition rooted in my childhood. It wasn’t till much later in life did I realize how odd it was for a family of Baptist to celebrate it or for my dad to include it in every church he pastored at Christmas celebrations. To me Advent was normal-it has always been a part of my Christmas.
Growing up, every night the four of us would sit at the dining table next to our lit up Christmas tree and we would light the candles, sing a Christmas song, read a Christmas book, and pick out our favorite Christmas ornaments (we have the greatest tree because of our ornaments-from Star Wars to homemade ones we have names for such as Furby Gone Bad to historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth 1.). We did it every night, including the nights we had the church staff over for a Christmas Party.
I remember as a child loving to watch the candle lights as I listened to the Christmas story and as we talked about Advent and Christmas. I loved experiencing it at church and weaving it into the celebrations there. When I was in Kindergarten when we did projects on the holidays, in all the places where we were supposed to put things like “Christmas Tree” (example: “At Christmas we set up ____”). I put “Advent Candles.”
These days, I mainly celebrate Advent in the Episcopal church. This is only my 2nd Christmas celebrating Advent with the Episcopalians-my first since being confirmed. The thing I love most about Advent as an Episcopalian is it’s a tradition that, for me, is well rooted in my Baptist roots, but it easily flows into my new Episcopalian traditions. It is a familiar tradition. It’s a piece of my past I can include in my present and bring with me into the future traditions.
As we prepare for the coming of Christ, may we light the way and cast off darkness. Let us light our candles and remember the baby that came into the world to be the light of the world.