Dear One and All,
I thought that today gives us the opportunity to have a look at a brief history of the Advent Wreath before it starts Next Sunday is the First Week of Advent Year B. Well, it has its origins in the pagan rituals of the peoples of Northern Europe hundreds of years ago.
During the dark cold days of winter, these pre-Christian peoples gathered to celebrate the winter Solstice from December 21 to 23. The main focus of their rituals was a wheel on which they placed evergreen branches and lighted candles. With this symbol, they created a circle of light in the midst of their darkest days, and they (prayed) and longed for the signs of the change of season, which would “turn” and the sun would come “round” again.
With the coming of Christianity, the mid-winter candle wheel gradually became the Advent Wreath, and the candles were lit, not to anticipate the return of the sun, but rather, the coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
In Australia, the Wreath traditionally is created around a circular base symbolizing the never-ending cycle of the seasons and our place in eternal time. The base is covered with evergreen leaves creating a link with the evergreen Christmas tree, which will supplant it. The green symbolizes God’s everlasting love and new life, which Jesus won for us, and the hope to which we are called as God’s People.
Four coloured candles are places on the Wreath, and are lit in sequence during Advent. These four candles symbolize that Jesus is the Light of the World, and as we watch the candles burn down each week, we are reminded to continue to wait in hope, and prepare for the coming of the Lord.
The first purple candle is the Prophet’s candle, which reminds us of the Old Testament Prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. This candle also reminds us that Jesus, the Prophetic Word made flesh, is the fulfilment of the Old Testament.
The second purple candle to be lit is the Bethlehem candle, and it serves to remind us of the birthplace of the Messiah.
The third candle, which is pink, is a symbol of joy. It reminds us that God loved us so much that he sent his Son to us. It is called the Shepherds’ Candle, in memory of the first people to worship the newborn Jesus. This candle also symbolizes our growing joy and excitement as the birth of Jesus draws near.
Finally, the last purple candle is called the Angels’ Candle and this serves to remind us that the Angels were the heralds of the birth of Christ, the Emmanuel ( God is with us).
In the centre of the wreath is a white flower in bloom with buds ready to burst forth, reminding us from the Prophet Isaiah 35:1-6 That with the coming of the promised One, life will change and be made new. In a poetic way the Old Testament writer says,” Let the wilderness and the dry lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil….’
May we use this time of Advent wisely, and may nothing hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.
God Bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr.Kev.
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT….Family Prayer
Leader:The Advent Wreath will be one of the principal symbols in the church and in our Liturgy over the next four weeks. Today we will bless the wreath and light the first candle. Before we do, let us pause for a moment and pray together with a longing and waiting for the coming of the Lord. Pause.
God of grace and promise, at the beginning of this Advent season, we gather as a community to prepare for the coming of Jesus. We ask you now to bless our Family Advent Wreath and all who gather around it. May it remind us of the coming if Jesus in the Incarnation, of his continued coming into our hearts and into our world today and of his future coming in glory.
Lord, we pray that you will Bless our Advent Wreath and fill our hearts for a longing to meet you always in our sisters and brothers, in your Holy Word in the Scriptures and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Bless our Family, and all our efforts in seeing you today, and one day face to face. We make this our prayer through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Leader: May the circle of green leaves be a sign of the new life which Jesus won for us and the hope to which we are called.
All. Come, Lord Jesus.
Leader: As we light these candles each week, may our hearts be filled with eager expectation at the coming of Christ our Saviour.
All. Come, Lord Jesus.
Leader: May he find us awake when he comes, ready to receive him with joy!
All. Come, Lord Jesus.
The first candle is lit…..All pray: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Let us pray …All together
God of faithfulness,
our hearts desire the warmth of your love
and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ, our Saviour
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming
may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the of his truth.
We make tis prayer in his name
and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.