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Join in this Christian tradition to prepare your heart for the celebration of the first Advent of Christ! Click to read the entire article…

The Christian tradition of Advent is observed the four Sundays prior to Christmas–the last Sunday sometimes observed on Christmas. Its modern observance was given birth in a home for children in Germany, but you may wish to make it a part of your own Christmas celebration as well.

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Origin of Advent

At this the darkest period of the calendar year, the Christian Church celebrates the Light which has come to lighten a darkened world. To teach the pagans of the Roman Empire and other people groups, early believers resorted to the use of symbolism in teaching. Things as simple as the light of candles or stained glass windows which depicted the lives of Christ and the Apostles were used. Unfortunately, these symbols became aflociated with means of salvation for many. These physical symbols, used for the sake of amplifying spiritual truth, can never take the place of our Lord. Only a living faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation.

Yet many of the symbols aflociated with the Christmas season may be the means by which spiritual and eternal truths are amplified—but these symbols must always remain symbols, and never regarded as instruments of salvation.

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Johann Hinrich Wichern

While the Advent wreath was first used in the Middles Ages, the modern Advent wreath owes its origin to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881), a German theologian and educator who founded a home for poor children in the city of Hamburg. With the approach of the Christmas season, the children of the home would daily ask how long it would be until Christmas day. In 1839, hoping to satisfy the curiosity of the children, Wichern constructed a wooden ring (made out of a cartwheel) with 19 small red and 4 big white candles. A small red candle was lit successively each weekday of Advent, and on Sundays, a large white candle was lighted.

The four large candles in Wichern’s Advent wreath gave rise to the modern use of four candles with a fifth for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. About 1860, cuttings of evergreens were entwined about the wooden ring. By the twentieth century, the Advent wreath had become an entrenched tradition with German Christians, though it was more slowly received in Austria and southern Germany. Soon the practice spread to various Protestant churches and later Roman Catholics in the United States. Among Eastern Orthodox Christians, six candles are sometimes used due to a longer Advent season.

Conclusion

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Nativity of Jesus

Today, many churches follow the example of Johann Wichern which was begun for the children of Hamburg by placing an Advent wreath in their sanctuary. One by one, each candle will be lit, and with the increasing light which each new candle brings, we celebrate the ever-increasing spiritual truths which they symbolize. With the Apostle John, we comfort ourselves with the truth that, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men”:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. –John 1:1-9


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For Further Consideration

Christian Living, Suggested references and resources. Lamentably, the secularization of America has resulted in the devaluation of Christianity in a variety of spheres of life. Christian Heritage Fellowship exists for the sake of encouraging believers in their walk with the Lord and challenging the unbeliever concerning the claims of the Gospel and the implications of the Christian life. The articles below contain suggestions for the lives of individual believers as well as suggestions for the larger community of faith. These article continue to be revised and updated, containing more and more suggestions for living the Christian life.  Read more...
Stephen A. Flick, Ph.D., America's Founding Fathers and the Bible. Contrary to the contemporary mantra that America was birthed as a secular nation, the historical evidence demonstrates that America was founded by Christians who wished to enjoy the liberty to freely express their Christian faith. Lamentably, Christians have forgotten and neglected the Christian heritage bequeathed to them by America's Founding Fathers and have allowed secularists to disparage and deny what was given to them at such a great price. America's Founding Fathers and the Bible briefly describes a portion of America's Christian heritage, particularly during the rise of nationalism when America was shaping its national government.  Read more...
Stephen A. Flick, Ph.D., When the United States Capitol Was a Church. So deep and strong was the relationship of government to the Christian faith in America that the relationship was recognized in a variety of ways. Few realize that the United States Capitol was used as a church for years before it was used to convene the United States Congress. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the United States Capitol was used for church services. In fact, it became a meeting place for a number of churches in Washington, D. C. While secularists wish to keep this and many other similar historical facts quiet, the sincere Christian will wish to celebrate the spiritual heritage our Founding Fathers have bequeathed to us.  Read more...

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Podcast: ‘Advent,’ by Dr. Stephen Flick.


We are a user supported non-profit organization.  Your small gift is tax-deductible and will go a long way to help us meet our operating budget – and it is vital, because ...
America deserves to know its true heritage.
Please contribute today!
Click to donate
Written by Dr. Stephen FlickNumber of posts: 225
Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is Christian Heritage Fellowship’s executive director and resides in East Tennessee with his wife, Beth. He spent 12 years as a Seminary professor and has been a licensed minister for more than thirty years, during which time he has served as pastor, revival and camp meeting evangelist, interim pastor, and other ministerial roles. He has authored numerous articles concerning America’s Christian heritage. Dr. Flick earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in theology and church history.

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