In the interest of making things attractive and accessible to children, we can lose the whole point of Advent, the season of the Coming of Christ. Christ came once, in the child and man Jesus, but we look also for a new coming of Christ, and Advent is as much about that ultimate Coming as it is about the baby Jesus. It is not just about a hope that was realised in the past; it is about our hope for now and for the future, the ultimate future.
In “The Colour Purple”, a novel by Alice Walker, the leading character continually equates the colour purple with suffering and pain, but in a field of purple flowers she is taught to see beauty and to embrace it, and learns to acknowledge all that is good, for God has placed it on earth. Purple is also the colour of Advent, for vestments and decorations, and in some advent rings there will be purple candles as well as or instead of red ones. For purple is associated both with suffering and pain, and also with royalty and the triumph of the king, the work and victory of Jesus.
In Advent we take a careful look at ourselves, at our need of being made whole by the grace of God. We may learn to face up to the evils we have suffered, and have done to others; and then to open our hearts and souls to the undefeated, unlimited, never-ending love and grace of God, revealed in Jesus. We can learn not to be dominated by the ugly, but to fill our lives and our worlds with beauty – above all with the beauty of Christian lives, lives lived in the light of Christ. When we get hold of that message, then it really is time to light the candles, switch on the fairy lights, sing the carols and … celebrate!
[Shortened from an Advent thought by the Revd Eric Potts, available in full in our magazine at Contact]