Advent is the beginning of a new year in the church. The seasons of the church year unfold in a pattern that follows the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The church seasons are Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time. 

The Season of Advent begins with the four Sundays before Christmas and continues through Christmas Eve. The name is derived from a Latin word for “coming.” The season is a time of preparation and expectation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas.

You may have seen Advent Wreaths, a circle of greenery that holds four candles, one for each Sunday of the season of Advent. As we light one candle a week, the candles help mark the passage of time as we move toward the birth of Christ. Each candle has a meaning: the First Week is Hope; Second Week, Preparation; Third Week, Joy (peace); Fourth Week, Love.

Advent wreaths are used both in churches and in homes for devotional purposes. The candles may be blue, purple, or lavender, depending on local custom. Some Advent wreaths include a white candle in the center known as the “Christ Candle,” which is lit on Christmas Eve. Some include a pink candle for the Third Sunday of Advent, also called Rose Sunday.

But the most important thing about Advent is that it offers a time to step aside from the bustle and stress of a “Christmas Season” that seems to begin earlier every year. Advent is a time to contemplate the miracle of God become human in the form of a baby. Waiting for the arrival of a baby is a time of mixed emotions: joy, wonder, anticipation, curiosity, trepidation. What new parents haven’t wondered if they will be up to the job? And then the baby arrives and changes their world. Just as Jesus arrived and changed our world.

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Here’s a list of Episcopal churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

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