This Sunday (December 3rd) will be the first week of Advent. The meaning and focus of Advent varies depending on your Christian tradition and your place in history.
Wikipedia says: “Advent (from the Latin Adventus, sc. Redemptoris, “the coming of the Saviour”) is a holy season of the Christian church, the period of preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, or Christmas. It is the beginning of the Christian year”
CRI says: “Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. Purple is still used in Catholic churches. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the “Word made flesh” and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent.”
And then adds, “In recent times, however, Advent has undergone a shift in emphasis, reflected in a change of colors used in many churches. Except in the Eastern churches, the penitential aspect of the Season has been almost totally replaced by an emphasis on hope and anticipation.”
Advent is the one season that I always felt the Protestants, in my case Evangelicals, could find so much more significance and meaning. Beyond lighting candles on the advent wreath, there is an opportunity to focus on the implications of the birth of Jesus, a story we have heard too often, but rarely listened to.