Today is the first Sunday of Advent. In our tradition, we haven't always celebrated it, but it has been commemorated by many Christians for centuries. The word "advent" comes from the Latin word "adventus" which comes from the Greek word "parousia" which refers to the second coming of Christ (ie. Matthew 24:27, 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
We light a candle on each Sunday leading up to Christmas, ending with the center candle; representing Christ; being lit on Christmas Eve. It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation. We remember how the Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah.
In our present day, it is a time of heart preparation as we reflect on the meaning of Christ's birth in our lives. It is also a reminder that Christ will return for His bride, the Church. I'm reminded of these lyrics, written from the virgin Mary's perspective;
"Make my heart ready for Christmas. Help me prepare for the blessing to come. Lord you know I'm so unworthy so show me what to do. Make my heart ready for You."*
I think that sums up what "Advent" means to me.
*"Make My Heart Ready for Christmas"
by Dave Clark & Russell Mauldin
from the Christmas musical, "Come Home for Christmas" Benson Music Group. ©1991)