THE MEANING OF THE ADVENT WREATH
Revised Common Lectionary Readings 2013
Most Advent wreaths use three colors – purple (or blue), pink, and white. Many use an evergreen backdrop to arrange and hold the candles. Though believed to be a Pre-Christian Germanic tradition, the advent wreath is used by many Christian communities as a means of remembering four things during the weeks leading up to the date we use to commemorate Jesus’ birth: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
In my congregation, Manantial de Gracia “Spring of Grace” we welcome different people to light the candle and share with our community a brief insight (reflection) into what the candle they are lighting represents for them.
1st CANDLE – (purple) THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE
“And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)
RCL Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
2nd CANDLE – (purple) THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or CANDLE OF PREPARATION (PEACE)
“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.” (Luke 3:4-6)
RCL Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
3rd CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF JOY
“…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:7-15)
RCL Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
4th CANDLE – (purple) THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
RCL Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7,17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25
Typically, Christmas falls on a weekday, so we invite the congregation to light a white candle with their families, friends, and loved ones as they celebrate Christmas in their own personal ways. We invite them to find time to pray and reflect on what God has meant to them during the previous year…but we also remind them to find and make time to dance and celebrate!
5th CANDLE – (white) “CHRIST CANDLE”
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (John 1:29)
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.‘” (John 3:1-8)
RCL I Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14[15-20]
RCL II Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:[1-7]8-20
RCL III Isaiah 527-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4[5-12]; John 1:1-14