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All About the Advent Wreath, Week One

Sunday, November 27, 2022  is the First Sunday in Advent.   I’m skipping a couple of the Chuck Knows Church episodes because this one is so timely.  We’ll get back to the others after Christmas.

The first Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. It is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus’ coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born. The candle’s purple color represents Christ’s royalty as the King of Kings.


The Advent wreath began as a German and Scandinavian home devotional practice used to mark the four weeks of Advent. Families would light a candle for each past week and the current week at their dinner or evening time of prayer. The configuration of candles, whether in a line or a circle, did not matter. Neither did the color of the candles (all colors are used in homes in Europe). What mattered was the marking of time and the increase of light each week in the face of increasing darkness as the winter solstice approached.

As Advent wreaths began to be used by congregations on Sundays in some places in Europe and America beginning in the late 19th century, several adaptations were made to make them work better in public worship spaces. Candles needed to be larger and more uniform than the “daily candles” handmade or purchased for home use. They also needed to be more uniform in color to fit with other décor in the sanctuary. That is why candles used in the Advent wreath are usually purple or blue, to coordinate with color of the paraments used during this season.

This shift in context from home to public use also made it important in the eyes of some for the candles to be given a meaning more that simply marking time and  increasing light. This led to special ceremonies being developed for lighting these special candles each week.

As this practice began to catch on by the mid-twentieth century, several church supply houses who sold Advent wreaths and candles for public worship also developed resources, banners, and bulletin covers assigning a theme to each week, and thus each candle, based on scriptures from the one-year lectionaries used at that time. Those themes were Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, in that order.

Today, almost no one uses those one-year lectionaries, so those themes may not always fit the scriptures we hear in worship. The one exception is the Third Sunday of Advent, where the current lectionaries have continued to support the centuries old observance of “Gaudete” or “Joy Sunday.” That is why church supply houses often offer rose or pink colored candles for the wreath for use on this day.

So how may we talk about the meaning of the Advent wreath today?

We can reclaim the original home use of marking time with the hope of increasing light as we await the return of Christ, that day when “The city no longer has need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it, because the glory of God illumines it, and its lamp is the lamb.”

And we can develop meanings or themes for each week based on the focus of the scriptures themselves. After all, the candles and the wreath are an accessory, not an end in themselves. Their meaningfulness comes from how we use them to point toward Christ, the world’s true light, who was, and is, and is to come.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.


Suggested Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Chuck Knows Church — ADVENT WREATH. Four candles in a circle with a big one in the middle? Yep, take a moment and learn the basics about the advent wreath. And why is the pink candle…pink?

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2022 in Advent, Holidays, Posts of Interest, Videos

 

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Dick Van Dyke reads “The Winner”

A young Native-American boy and a Franciscan priest learn the true meaning of Christmas during a holiday party at a reservation mission.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2021 in Posts of Interest, Videos

 

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A Journey to Bethlehem, December 5, 2021

 

For children and their families…
Kids will have the opportunity to walk along with Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They’ll complete a census with the Roman guard before they meet Mary and Elizabeth to grind some grain and sew a quilt square, help Joseph in his carpentry shop, and visit the manger scene to take a photo with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the animals in the stable.
Children can also create their own ornament and draw a picture to remember the Nativity scene. This is an excellent way for preschool and elementary age children to develop memories of Christmas. Moms and Dads will want to tag along, rather than dropping kids off, as children walk through the journey at their own pace.
Pender UMC
12401 Alder Woods Drive
Fairfax, VA US 22033
 

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Advent Wreath — Chuck Knows Church

Advent

Sunday, November 28,  is the First Sunday in Advent.   I’m skipping a couple of the Chuck Knows Church episodes because this one is so timely.  We’ll get back to the others after Christmas.

The first Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. It is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus’ coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born. The candle’s purple color represents Christ’s royalty as the King of Kings.

Suggested Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Chuck Knows Church — ADVENT WREATH. Four candles in a circle with a big one in the middle? Yep, take a moment and learn the basics about the advent wreath. And why is the pink candle…pink?

 
 

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Just In Time For Christmas

From RevKev, Pender’s Former Associate Pastor – “As it was, so it is, Christmas about Jesus. We are all distracted by the glitz and festivities, but let us hear the sound of Angels and the call to worship our Newborn King.

Just in time for Christmas, a gift from God to you: A baby in a manger who would love us through and through..”

 

More from JC Reigns

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2020 in Christmas, Christmas Music, Holidays, Music, Pender UMC

 

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