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notre dame montreal

The Colours of Advent

Sermon by The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman



Its official – Christmas is on the way

I heard on the radio the other night that once December has arrived we can begin to prepare for Advent and Christmas

There are many different colours we associate with this time of the year

Often when we think of Christmas we think of the reds and greens we see on the wrapping paper and Christmas cards

Christmas crackers too are often coloured with reds and greens

Red and green are more secular colours of Christmas

They are derived from old European practices of using evergreens and holly with red berries to symbolise ongoing life and hope that Christ’s birth brings into a cold world ‘In the bleak mid winter’, as the carol says

As Christians at Advent we look for Christ’s coming as a baby at Christmas but we also look for his second coming as Lord and King in the fullness of time

It’s a focus on the past and the future and as such symbolises the spiritual journey we are all on, whether we profess ourselves Christians or not

Historically the church’s colour for Advent is purple, the colour of penitence and fasting but also the colour of royalty as we wait for the coming of the King. Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’.

The colour of the Advent candle we lit today is purple. Traditionally this purple candle represents the Prophets and is also known as the candle of expectation or hope

It’s the candle of hope because God revealed through His prophets that He would not leave His people without a shepherd, without hope.

Some of the readings we have at Christmas time come from the Old Testament and speak of the coming of the Messiah and the anticipation of the coming Messiah weaves its way through the Old Testament like a golden thread

God’s people were abused by power hungry kings and led astray by self centred false prophets and so they yearned for the Messiah to come – a King who would save them

We too in hope and expectation wait for the Messiah to come, just as the prophets foretold. Wait for God’s new work in history when He wraps up time and comes again in glory, His Second Advent

Through Christ’s birth death and resurrection, His first Advent we have the sure hope that He will come again in His second

And while we wait, in these between times, as Christians we are called to offer hope to those around us. Those in hopeless circumstances, those with less hope than ourselves, those who need to look to others for hope

In our mission project this year we’ve been supporting those less fortunate than ourselves in Africa who need our help and hope to fund their hospital needs – we have been able to offer hope and make a difference

This Christmas as we wait in expectation, let’s pledge to offer the hope of the Messiah who has come and the Messiah who is to come to those who lack hope: those who are sick, those who are lonely, those who are in need, those who are exhausted from the pressures of life, those who think there is no meaning to life.

Perhaps wrapping their present in purple rather than red, green, silver or gold this year representing the hope we wish each other and for them.