Advent – and Symbols of Hope

This article is from Issue 41 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.


ADVENT, THE BEGINNING OF the Christian year, is a time of anticipation, of waiting, of preparation as the people of God look ahead to the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, and prepare themselves for the re-birth of Christ in their lives. The word itself means ‘to come’ and implies a drawing near or immanence as God sets in motion the process by which he draws near to his people in the person of Jesus.

by Roy Arnold

Faith, hope and love
One of our ministers, Bruce Prewer, had written a poem which he called ‘Faith, hope and love’. He offered this to the planning group for possible use during Advent, and we asked Doug Simper, another member of the community, if he could produce some music to go with Bruce’s words. Doug came up with a simple yet beautiful melody which he had completed just a few hours before he taught it to us that first Advent Sunday morning. The words and melody line are reproduced here.

Banners of hope
How could I represent “hope” on a series of banners which would be simple, self-explanatory? In the end, I settled on a seed. With the help of another member of the community we decided that we would not use any words on the banners, but let the symbols speak for themselves.

Each banner had a similar background. The lower section was a light fawn colour representing the earth, above which was a swathe of light (bright green for the surface environment of the planet), and above that again bright blue representing the atmosphere.

On the first banner, for Advent 1, I placed a sprouting seed in the earth, symbolic of the possibility of hope surging upward toward the tight of day.

On Advent 2, the sprout appeared above the earth as two tiny dark green leaves —the messengers of hope – spoke of greaterthings to come.

On Advent 3, the seed had shrivelled and disappeared, but the roots had developed and the plant had grown. A bright red bud now appeared on the plant — the commitment to hope.

Advent 4 represented the fulfilment of hope. This coincided in the readings with Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and the majestic, soaring Magnificat. The flower bloomed.

The drawings of the banners show how the green swathe connects all four banners rather like a se-tennant strip of postage stamps. Each of the banners was complete in its own right but could also be used in series at another time.

Faith, hope and love
Faith like a mustard seed,
Power so small.
Word growing into deed,
Reaching tall,
Gift for all.Hope making all things new,
Vision grand;
Christ’s dream which shall come true,
In our land,
Near at hand.

Love larger than the world,
Christ’s new song;
Power from which death recoiled,
Love so strong,
We belong.

Faith, hope and love are free,
Boundless store;
New heaven and earth shall be
Without flaw,

Words – Bruce Prewer
Music – Doug Simper
This song may be reproduced for use in a specific service.

2 thoughts on “Advent – and Symbols of Hope”

  1. I was part of the Australian church for 35 years…wonderful years.
    Your Advent banner suggestions viz.,the seed as a symbol of hope are quite magnificent. May I have permission to use this symbolism idea for the advent banners in my current parish on the other side of the world
    Please let me know.
    Thank you in anticipation and every blessing for the coming season.
    Catherine Martins

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