Door to December 7th
Dear Holy Rollers,
You can’t speak of Advent Adventures without making mention of the Christian celebration of the season of Advent.
According to Wiki-Advent is a season of the liturgical year observed in most Christian denominations as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year in Western Christianity, and is part of the wider Christmas and holiday season. (Advent – Wikipedia)
Growing up in the Catholic faith, this was a big part of our year. It not only marked the significance of an important icon in the Church, but it was the path that led to Christmas Day. As a kid, you were willing to get down with all of the religiosity you could handle if it meant that by enduring it you could get to open presents on Jesus’ Birthday. Hell, who wouldn’t want to get presents on someone else’s birthday?
Advent was a period of great anticipation and it marked a countdown for us. Each week we would immerse ourselves in the rites and symbolism of the liturgy and scratch off another lit candle by week’s end. Four was a nice easy number to remember.
The Advent Wreath was set up in a place of prominence at the front of the altar of our Church, so that all parishioners would be able to see it. It was our job as altar boys to make sure the candles on the Advent Wreath were lit. You had to light them in the correct order, or there would be complications. Complications would be getting a stern lecture about how to properly light the candles from our Church’s Pastor. A Pastor that could have fit nicely as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island training Marine Recruits. In fact, the altar boys in my Church were more or less a platoon ready to march at our Pastor’s command.
One time a funeral director from out of town came in and did a service. It was customary for the altar boys to get tipped for serving the funeral, but the funeral director must have missed that “suggestion”. When we came back empty handed our Pastor told us to go stand in front of the hearse until the funeral director paid up. It seems like an embellishment, but hand to God, it really happened. We got the tip money, that funeral director likely never had a funeral at our church again.
Please see the explanations of the rites of Advent below. They are informative and explain a bit about the significance of each candle in the wreath. When thinking back on those days of my life, I fondly remember the incandescent images of candles burning in the church. A mysterious glow. A wondrous glow. So many eyes and hearts focused on those points of light, waiting in anticipation for something to happen. I think I recall the phrasing “waiting in joyful hope”.
Whether you are waiting in joyful hope for the eventual return of a promised savior or just for the annual tickle from Old St. Nick, it certainly is nice to have rituals and candles to see you through.
All information below is provided in courtesy by: Learn Religions – Guide to the Beliefs and Religions of the World
History and Time of the Advent Wreath
The lighting of an Advent wreath is a custom that began in 16th-century Germany among Lutherans and Catholics. The original purpose of the wreath was to bring focus on Christmas rather than on Advent as a distinct season. In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.
The symbolism of Advent Wreath Candles
Set on the branches of the Advent wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. A more modern tradition is to place a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, these colored advent candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world. Each week of Advent on Sunday, a particular Advent candle is lit. Catholic tradition states that the four candles, representing the four weeks of Advent, each stand for one thousand years, to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) This first candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger: “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12, NIV)
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle,” and it represents joy: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8–11, NIV)
The fourth and last purple candle, often called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13–14, NIV)
On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is lit. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow: “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)
Visit me on Facebook here: Christopher Paul Hickey | Facebook
Check out a recent poem here: Advent Adventures: The Door to December 6th – ProCrasstheNation