Christ Episcopal Church

in Kent, Ohio

Advent

Advent means “coming or arrival,” and the reason for the season is anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Christ child and His second coming. Over time the weeks leading up to Christmas were observed with special intentions, which changed over time.


 In the Middle Ages it became a season of penitence very similar to Lent. 

Over the past several decades, Episcopal churches have shifted the emphasis of Advent from a penitential season to a celebration of hope and anticipation while continuing our preparation and introspection.


Once colored vestments and paraments came into popular use, there were several different options in Advent.  In the early 12th century, the “Black Canon” of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem ordered black as the color for Advent.


If you enter various churches, you may see blue, blue violet, red violet, or purple.  Blue is not “new to the church. Before the 12th century, it was used in the Western Church.  The Sarum Rite was the original basis for the liturgy of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and where blue was used for the color of Advent. It was often specified that it be an indigo blur to represent the darkness before the birth.  Early art shows church leaders in ornately decorated blue robes. Shades of blue symbolize royalty, the coming of the King, hope, the night sky before the dawn, the sea before creation, and Mary. 


Early dyes were made from nature. Some historians suggest that northern European dyes were made from berries that produced blue while southern Europe was able to make purple dyes.


In the period when penance and fasting was emphasized in Advent, the third Sunday was seen as a day when the penitential practices were lifted for a day.  The pink candle symbolized the lifting of the fast.  


Some places call this Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for “rejoice.” It takes its name from one of the traditional readings from Philippians which begins, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” 


Here at Christ Episcopal Church, we are looking with hope toward the celebration of Christ’s birth, and to the Second coming of Christ.  We also look with hope toward our own future.  The hangings are not fancy or expensive just as Jesus had a simple place for his birth.


This year we are using Sarum Blue for our Advent vestment.  The burse, and veil for the chalice as well as the hangings on the lectern were made by parishioners with donated materials.