This is a continuation of the sermon Jim gave during Advent – Here he talks about one of the explanations of the Advent wreath.
“The Advent wreath was first used as a Christian devotion in the middle ages. I suspect Martin Luther had a hand in keeping it popular because the Advent wreath in its present form started in Germany as a Lutheran family custom. It was used as an in home Christian education device; and did not become widely used in churches until the 20th century, and therefore an exact standardized meaning for every part of it would not be possible. I will try to give a good general meaning to all of its components. First the wreath gets its design from the customs of Pre-Christian Germanic and Scandinavian cultures who used candles and greenery as symbols of light and life during winter.
We have a circular evergreen wreath with white flowers, the evergreen symbolizes renewal – In ancient times the cedar was revered as the tree of royalty, it also signified immortality, all these the sign of Christ who reigns as king forever. The circular shape represents the completeness of God. No Beginning and no end. The white flowers represent life and resurrection or purity. I’m sure you now understand that each part could have different meanings, yet lead us to one common meaning. There are five candles; the candles symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world. We have one white candle in the center, slightly taller than the rest, surrounded by four candles which represent the period of waiting during the four weeks of Advent, which themselves represent the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. There are three blue candles and one pink candle. The weekly progression of lighting the candles symbolizes our preparation through prayer and penitence. The blue color represents Royalty, prayer, penitence and preparation. We will get to the pink one in a minute. We light one blue candle on the first Sunday of Advent this reminds us of the hope Christ brings us. On the second Sunday in Advent we light the Hope candle and a second blue candle to remind us of the peace Christ brings us. On the third Sunday we light the first two and we light the pink candle to remind us of the joy that Christ brings us. Why is it pink? Long ago, the Pope had the custom of giving someone a rose on the fifth Sunday of Lent. The effect was to give some relief to the solemnity of Lent. ”
“Originally, before shopping malls, Advent was a solemn fast in preparation for Christmas, so the custom was extended to the third Sunday of Advent to lighten it up a bit too. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the first three and the remaining blue one to remind us of the love that Christ brings us. Each Sunday the light keeps getting brighter until we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve and the light is brightest when we light the Christ candle. This, of course, is the slightly taller white candle in the center which reminds us that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins. His birth was for his death and his death was for our birth.”
More to follow – Stay tuned