Our Presbyterian Church Years is broken into a series of seasons. The first is Advent which starts on the fourth Sunday leading up to Christmas. for the 2024 calendar year the first Sunday in Advent is December 3rd and ends on Sunday evening December 24th. Advent is followed by Christmas which lasts from December 25th to January 5th. After Christmas comes Epiphany starting on January 6th and lasts until February 13th. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday February 14th and includes Holy Week beginning on Monday March 25th until Saturday March 30th. Easter begins with the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on March 31st and lasts until Pentecost on May 19th. Easter is followed by that long season Ordinary Time which lasts until King of Kings Sunday on November 24th.
The Season of Advent opens our Liturgical Calendar Year. It encompasses the four Sundays leading up to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. Advent has been traced back to fifth century when Bishop Perpetuus of Tours directed fasting for three days each week between the St. Martin’s Day (November 11th) and Christmas. Starting in in the diocese Tours, France, the custom spread through France, and through a series of renditions, has spread throughout Western Christianity.
The visual components of Advent center around a decorated Christmas tree, a nativity scene focusing on the birth of Jesus and the Advent wreath with four colored candles and a central White Christ Candle.
The visual elements of Advent lead to the spiritual preparation which is the purpose of Advent. The spiritual preparation centers around three primary components The first is to prepare ourselves to remember the gift which God gave to his people as God come to earth in human form. The second is to receive God into our hearts. The third is to prepare ourselves for when God returns to rule over all of creation.