Here is a simple reflection on the meaning of advent, using purple ribbon devised by Chloe Axford for EngageWorship.
Advent, from the Latin adventus, meaning arrival or coming, is a chance for us to slow down and take time to prepare for Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
It is an opportunity for us to reflect quietly on what Jesus’ coming to earth really means for us, in contrast with the headlong rush towards Christmas Day, parties, presents and turkey we experience in the world outside the church.
“Instead of plunging into Christmas early, advent holds back and emphasises preparation and expectant waiting for the coming of Jesus into the world. Advent looks at the arrival of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, his coming into the hearts of Christian people today; and his expected second coming at the end of time in judgment and glory.” (Channel 4 website, faith and belief page)
Traditionally, the colour purple, symbolising penitence and preparation, is used by churches at advent.
(At this point each member of the congregation should be given a length of purple ribbon, long enough to be tied around their wrist.)
You have each been given a purple ribbon. I would like to encourage you to wear it round your wrist over the next four weeks, stick it to your computer or pin it to a notice board or somewhere else where you will see it every day.
Use it as a reminder to slow down to prepare for Christmas with expectant waiting, rather than speeding up to get through the list of things you need to do.
Lord, during advent help us to slow down to your rhythm, to prepare for the anniversary of your arrival quietly and expectantly. Give us a sense of hope for our lives and our world, a sense of peace that you hold each of us in your hands, a sense of just how much you love us and a sense of joy at the plans you have for us.
Using this purple ribbon as a reminder, help us to make a special effort to reflect your hope, peace, love and joy to those around us throughout advent. Amen.
(This prayer could be said by the worship leader or the whole congregation. It could also be printed on individual sheets to be given out with the ribbons for people to say at home throughout advent.)