Following the Thanksgiving Holiday, most Christian churches prepare for the coming Advent Season. This starts with the hanging of the greens, special banners and wreaths designed to make the church sanctuary festive and bright for the season. A Christmas tree in a corner of the sanctuary near the pulpit adorned with decorations and light has become a tradition. For the last 100 years in the US many churches have added an Advent Wreath.
Lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath has taken on a special place, usually at the start of the worship service and the candles are left burning during the entire service.
There are many approaches to the short ceremony of lighting the Advent Candles. Often the ceremony includes scriptures from the Old Testament, such as Isaiah Chapters 40 or 11, which point toward someone coming that will fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament.
There are probably as many programs, which incorporate all four Sundays, and Christmas Eve as there are congregations.
The traditional approach is to use scripture for the ceremony, which correlates with the meaning of the candles.
- The first candle represents hope.
- The second candle represents peace.
- The third candle (the rose candle) represents joy.
- The fourth candle represents love.
- The Christ Candle of course Christ.
The ceremony I used for many years, which differed slightly from the traditional, was:
- First Sunday: Light of Expectation – responsive reading Isaiah 11:1-10
- Second Sunday: Light of Annunciation – responsive reading Isaiah 9:2-17
- Third Sunday: Light of Proclamation – responsive reading Luke 2:8-20
- Fourth Sunday: Light of Fulfillment – responsive reading John 3:16-18
- Christmas Eve: Light of Christ – responsive reading John 1:1-5, 14
Whatever scriptures are read or type of candles used, the Advent Wreath does serve an important service. The wreath serves as a focal point each time we light it. The wreath reminds us that 2,000 years ago God came to dwell among the people and in the process provided us with an example of how to live with each other. Finally he offered his life so that each of our sins might be forgiven and we would stand clean and pure before God.
Quite the gift.
I hope you enjoy the blog and leave a comment. Thank You. Rob