Advent Provides A Quiet Prelude
As the Christmas season quickly approaches, my family prepares for Advent. This year, our focus will be on the people each candle represents. We light a new candle each Sunday representing a characteristic and a people group. Every Sunday, I will share about the candle for the week, culminating with the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depending on your traditions.
What is Advent? Literally, Advent means “coming” or arrival. The focus is not just on Christ’s arrival as a baby, but more importantly, His Second coming. It links the incarnation, the resurrection, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Advent also symbolizes people’s spiritual journey as they affirm Christ has come, He died, was buried, rose to life, and will come again in power.
The Advent season encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas and the week between Christmas and the New Year. For 40 days, we celebrate Advent. We remember the blessed arrival of His birth and await His coming again in glory.
A spirit of hope, faith, joy, and love marks the Advent season. Each candle represents one of the characteristics of a Christian’s life. Anticipation and longing for Christ’s return are the focus of Advent. It is a time of reflection and fasting for me. During the first two weeks, people often fast and repent, and when the light of joy candle shines, they celebrate by breaking their fast.
Since my family uses a traditional Advent wreath, we must gather supplies. To build your family Advent wreath, you will need a wreath of evergreens, purple ribbon, three purple candles, one pink candle, and a large white candle. Place the four colored candles evenly around the Wreath and the white candle in the center. We also add three small gold ornaments. Each of these items reminds us of parts of the tradition of Advent.
Let’s dig into the supplies we need. Each one holds significant meaning in this Church tradition.
The Wreath is a circle that reminds us of eternal life. It reminds us of Jehovah, I am Who I am, God Himself, His eternity, and ENDLESS mercy, which has no beginning or end. Just as the Wreath has no beginning or end, God’s love for us has no beginning or end. The concept is similar to couples exchanging rings at weddings to remind each other of their eternal love.
The Boughs of Evergreens speak of our hope in God, newness in Christ, and eternal life. Evergreens remain green when the rest of the forest turns brown or becomes covered in snow. It reminds us of God’s never-changing love for us. Some churches allow these evergreen boughs to hang after Christmas and dry out. Without the life-giving tree, these boughs dry out and wither. The needles fall off, and the intertwined branches remind us of the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross. Some churches place these branches on a cross during Holy Week before Easter.
Purple Ribbons remind us of Jesus’ royalty and preparation for the Lord’s Second Coming. Purple is the color of royalty and His eternal Kingdom. Churches use this color during Advent and Easter to remind us of royalty and penitence. Christ came to give us forgiveness for our sins. Advent reminds us to repent and long for the King’s return. The ribbons also remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus. My family added three small ornaments to our Wreath to remind us of the offerings brought by the Magi.
The Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His Son. The candles are “living” flames, which are symbolic of Christ. Three candles are usually violet/purple, representing penance and longing for His triumphant return. The one rose/pink candle symbolizes joy. Each candle reminds us to look to the future coming of Christ with hope, faith, joy, and peace.
Advent provides a quiet prelude
to the dramatic brightness of Christmas.
How do we light the candles? The first candle we light is directly across from the rose candle. Week two candle is the next one counterclockwise from week one. Why counterclockwise? People used to dance around the fire in a clockwise direction on the winter solstice, so to separate Christian traditions from pagan rituals, we reversed the direction. The Christ Candle is the white candle in the center of the Wreath. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, we light the Christ Candle. Because I can’t leave burning candles unattended overnight from Christmas to Epiphany on January 6th, we light and extinguish the candles daily.
Each week in Advent, I hope you will join me as I share a short devotion about a different group of people represented by each candle. I will include Scriptures to read with your family or for your personal devotion time and several Christmas carols you can sing or listen to while you watch your candles sparkle.
Check out my prayers using the names of God on my website: https://www.jenniferwake.com/
You can also purchase my book Call Signs: How Knowing God’s Character Empowers Women To Accomplish His Mission. In this study of six of the names of God, we delve into how to pray using each Call Sign, and we study how man first discovered this character of God. We also learn how it empowers us to accomplish the mission God has given us where He placed us.