In Advent at church, there is a wreath of three purple, one pink and one white candle placed together in a stand. During Advent as we enjoy our time together after Mass we gather around the Advent wreath to light first one candle, then the following week two, and so on. On the Third Sunday we light the pink one, and then on Christmas Day we light the white one in the middle of the wreath. By Christmas Day there are 5 bright candles burning with joy.
People attach all sort of different symbolism to this – and you can look that up for yourselves. For me, and for many, it’s simply a countdown to the great feast of Christmas.
Week by week we light a candle and by the last Sunday in Advent we are left waiting to light the white one to remind ourselves of Christ’s shining Light of the World.
Advent is a time of looking forward – to Hope of Salvation and Eternity.
I don’t want to make this complicated – we remember the Prophets talking of Jesus Coming, John the Baptist preparing the way, Mary saying her great Yes to God, and Angels bringing the good news of Jesus – there’s four meaning for the candles which I think about.
Light is a feature of many Christian customs, for example on St Lucy’s Day about which Hannah has written elsewhere on our church blog. As we light the Advent candles week by week we symbolise the gradual dawning of Light on the world in Jesus’ birth. We are to shine out as beacons of light – and we are a people and faith of Light, of Love, of Joy and of Peace.
As a boy I would be given an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas, but now I make myself content with the Advent Wreath.