If you went to church on Sunday, Dec. 1, you probably noticed things were a little different. Everything is purple and the pastor is talking about five candles that have something to do with the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Churches everywhere are beginning the Advent season, a four-week long season to prepare the hearts of the congregation in anticipation of Christmas.
Four candles symbolize hope, faith, joy and peace. Hope in anticipation of the Messiah, faith to remind us of the journey of Mary and Joseph, joy to represent both the halfway point of Advent and the joy of the birth of Jesus and peace to celebrate the arrival of peace on earth.
The fifth candle sits in the middle of the other four flames and is lit on Christmas Eve, also known as the Christ candle. The Christ candle is white, instead of purple or pink, to represent the purity of Jesus who lived a sinless life.
If you have yet to make it to an Advent service, there’s still opportunities around San Diego to join in anticipation for the coming of Christmas.
All Peoples is hosting a candlelit Christmas in the Park at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park on Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. There will be worship, live performances and a Christmas message from head pastor, Robert Herber. There will be a bus in front of the prayer chapel at 4:45 p.m. to take students to and from the event.
Aloha will not be participating in a traditional Advent service with banners and candles, however, they will be singing worship songs that carry the theme of Advent each week sung by PLNU Alumni, Michael Golden. Because Aloha reaches many who are unfamiliar with words learned in church, they try to bridge those gaps with familiar and inclusive language.
Newbreak is inviting people to join in on their daily devotional, which can be found on their Facebook page. Each Sunday they are teaching on the four themes of Advent through their “Christmas ADVENTure” series.
Like other churches, First Church also puts on a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve in Brown Chapel for 5-6 p.m. They also encourage people to participate in the Giving Tree Ministry they partner with, which sponsors gifts for children in need. This year they are supporting children whose parents are incarcerated through Angel Tree as well as children at the Eunime orphanage in Tijuana through PLNU’s own Ministry with Mexico. First church also offers ReAdventing Christmas, a resource to educate people on Advent, charitable organizations and ethical gift giving.
The Rock is starting a new tradition this year by putting on a free Living Nativity in their sanctuary on Friday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday Dec. 21 at 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. You will be given coins to participate in the Bethlehem marketplace, pay taxes to Roman soldiers, spend time with potters and bakers as well as interact with townspeople. There will also be food trucks and games.