Please read Jeremiah 33:14-16
Advent is a time of expectation, and this is symbolized not only by the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent candle on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshiper that something is happening, but something more is still to come. The Advent season will not be complete until all four candles are lighted, with the central Christ candle also burning brightly on Christmas Eve.
The tradition of the Advent wreath is traced back to an old Scandinavian custom that celebrated the coming of light after a season of darkness. In that day candles were placed on the edge of a horizontal wheel. As the wheel was spun around, the lighted candles would blend into a continuous circle of light. Today we use a circle of evergreen to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows no beginning nor ending.
There is also symbolism in the colors of the candles in the Advent wreath. The three purple, or white, candles symbolize the coming of Christ from the royal line of David. He is coming as the King of Kings as well as the Prince of Peace. The pink candle is lighted on the third Sunday of the Advent season. This candle symbolizes joy; its use goes back to the Latin church which asked the worshipers to fast during this period of time.
A progression is noted in the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath. The first symbolizes expectation and hope. The second reminds us that we are involved in a season of preparation for peace in the coming of Christ. The third candle is proclamation, as we proclaim that Christ brought joy to the world when he appeared. The revelation of God’s love for all humankind is portrayed by the lighting of the fourth candle. The culmination of the season comes on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, as the Christ candle is lighted.
Let us join now in this season of expectation and hope.
O God, in the weeks to come, our attention to this blessed and holy event, the birth of your Son, will be continually distracted. help us to distinguish between the secular and the sacred, and to remember the true meaning of our joy and excitement. Help us to refocus our minds and hearts on your loving and most precious gift to us, your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania
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