Around the beginning of December we begin celebrating Advent, the 4 week season of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ, both his first coming and his second. This period of waiting is marked by many Christians through the use of the Advent Wreath. The wreath is a circle of evergreen branches and sprigs in which three purple/violet and one pink/rose candle rest. A white candle is set in the middle of the wreath. While many of us are used to the presence of the wreath in the sanctuary, and perhaps in the home too, how often do we stop to consider what we might learn from the wreath while we wait?
Beginning with the wreath itself we see the evergreen branches, reminding us of the everlasting life found in Christ. These branches are arranged in a circle, which has no beginning or end, which also symbolizes the everlasting life found in Christ as well as the eternity of God. In the wreath we are reminded of the God for whom we wait as well as the life which we gain through God’s incarnation in Jesus.
Within the wreath sit the 5 candles, which we light progressively throughout Advent, lighting the middle candle on Christmas Eve/day. The light itself represents the light of Christ which shines in the midst of the darkness of sin and death. The progression of light we experience as we light an additional candle each week reveals the growing light of Christ as well as the increasing amount of daylight beginning with the
Winter Solstice. It’s not just the candle light that gives us something to reflect on though, their color also reveals something to us about Advent. The purple/violet color of three of the candles is the primary color for the season of Advent, as well as Lent, and is present to remind us of the preparatory and penitent nature of the season. The fourth candle around the wreath, which is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, is pink/rose in color. This brighter and more cheerful color is meant to remind us of the joyful and expectant nature of Advent. Lastly the white candle in the center is meant to stand for Christ, the white color symbolizing his divine and sinless nature.
The Advent Wreath provides us a helpful way to remember both the season that we are in, Advent, and the season that we are preparing for, Christmas. Beyond serving as a way to measure the time of our waiting and a beautiful addition to our worship at church and home, the Advent wreath reminds of of the hope, peace, joy, and love that we find in Christ, who is our light, life, and salvation.