Advent begins the Church Year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and runs through Christmas Eve. Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” is a season when the Church reflects upon God’s promise to come to his people to save them. We look back to the First Advent of Jesus and look ahead to his Second Advent.
An Advent Wreath contains four candles, one for each Sunday. An additional candle is lit each Sunday, so that by the fourth Sunday all four are lit. Three of these candles are purple and one is rose. At the center is a fifth candle, the white Christ Candle, which is lit on Christmas Day. The first candle and the first Sunday represent expectation and hope and are often linked to the prophetic promises of the Old Testament. The third Sunday, represented by the rose candle, is Gaudete Sunday, and is a call to rejoice (gaudete) in anticipation of God’s imminent arrival.
Below are some readings to guide you through the season.
The Sunday readings are drawn from the Revised Common Lectionary Year A. Each Sunday has four readings: Old Testament, Psalm (or other canticle), Epistle and Gospel. The Gospel is the primary reading, supported by the other three. The Gospel readings progress through three major themes of Advent:
- Readiness for Christ’s second coming (Sunday 1)
- The ministry of John the Baptist in preparing the way for Jesus (2-3)
- The annunciation of the birth of Jesus (4).
The weekday readings progress through:
- God’s promises to come to his people and to provide a son (week 1)
- The preparatory ministry of John the Baptist (2)
- The annunciation and birth of Jesus (3)
- The apostolic teaching about the incarnation (4).
|First Sunday of Advent: Dec 1||Weekday readings|
|Second Sunday of Advent: Dec 8||Weekday readings|
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
|Third Sunday of Advent: Dec 15||Weekday readings|
Luke 2:1-7; Matt 1:18-25
|Fourth Sunday of Advent: Dec 22||Weekday readings|
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19