Friday, November 28, 2014

Celebrating the Birth of Christ with an Advent Wreath

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Many churches observe Advent on the four Sundays before Christmas. This is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Advent means “coming.” The Latin word “adventus” is a translation of the Greek word in Scripture “parousia.” Both mean “coming” and usually refer to the second coming of Christ. Advent celebrates the coming of Christ as a babe in Bethlehem and also anticipates the second coming of Christ. In many churches Advent is observed by the lighting a wreath of four candles. Here’s how it’s described by the Christian Resource Institute:

The Advent wreath is an increasingly popular symbol of the beginning of the church year in many churches as well as homes. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center....

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ….

The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah, that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history….

The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ… 

The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle.  It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve
My husband and I have been blessed by the Advent celebration. Our first experience of this was in 1990 when we returned to faith. I noted in a letter to our Pastor that our family celebration of Christmas now recognized its holy meanings. The celebration of Advent with marvelous Christmas hymns and music by the choir touched us. Each week the choir processed into the sanctuary led by child acolytes who lit the altar candles. Each week a family lit another of the candles in the Advent wreath. At the Christmas Eve service all five candles were lit including the center Christ candle.

Since then in our present church we’ve been similarly touched by the Advent Wreath candle lighting with Scripture readings noting the holy reason for the Season. Come one and all to church during this beautiful and holy season!

Dear Father,
Thank you for Your amazing love. Thank you for Your Advent to earth (Christmas) which we celebrate. Forgive us that we often celebrate Christmas without recognizing you. It is a time when your light shines in the dark of winter. We wear bright colors and buy gifts for one another. We go to musical performances, we sing carols, we send cards to relatives and friends, and we are more generous. Open the eyes of our hearts – all across this nation and all over the world – so we will know You, honor You, worship You. Open the eyes of those who don’t believe in You. Comfort those in pain or distress. Help us all see the Eternal purposes that conquered death and give us everlasting life. We celebrate your coming to earth as a baby – to become our Lord and Savior. What a surprise gift! And we look forward to your second coming! We thank you and praise you.

In Jesus Holy name,

No comments:

Post a Comment