Learning from the Advent Wreath
This morning, before Jane lit the second Advent Candle in our Advent Wreath, Duncan explained the significance of the wreath. I was struck that he described it as ‘part of our worship’, reminding us that it’s symbolism points to Jesus.
Up until ten years ago, Duncan said, the wreath was prepared by Norma Fraser who then passed on her skills to Shona who now prepares it each year.
The Wreath is circular, with five candles, and the plants are evergreen. ‘Circular,’ Duncan told us, ‘because it reminds us that God has no beginning and no end. God’s love for us is for forever, it’s eternal. And the plants are evergreen because there’s the sense of God’s love being always present, always surrounding us, never-ending, never dying.
‘And then we have five candles. Laurence lit the first one last week. The first candle symbolized Hope, and it’s often called the ‘Prophets’ Candle’ because we remember the prophets, and the hope they spoke of, of one who was to come, bringing light and hope to the world. Like Isaiah, whom we read about last week. ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.’ And candles of course are a great way of symbolizing that kind of light.
‘In a few minutes time, Jane is going to light the second candle. And the second candle symbolizes Faith, and is often called the ‘Bethlehem Candle.’ Today we remember the faith journey that Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem.
‘The third candle. We’ve carried on with red for all our candles, because that’s what Norma Fraser did, but quite often traditionally three candles are purple, which speak about prayer, and waiting, and the third candle is often pink, as a symbol of Joy. Joy because on the third Sunday we’re half-way through Advent and joy because of the impact that the birth of Jesus made on the world. It’s also known as ‘the Shepherd Candle’ reflecting the joy of the shepherds hearing the good news from the angels.
‘And the fourth candle is for Peace – it’s sometimes also called the ‘Angels’ Candle’ because the angels came with the announcement of peace for the whole world, and goodwill to all people.
‘And on Christmas Eve, we light the white candle, the ‘Christ Candle’, which reminds us of the birth of Jesus.
‘So that’s something of the significance of the Advent Wreath and the candles which speak so powerfully of the coming into the world of Jesus.’