Good morning … Happy First Sunday of Advent!
Cor Unum Abbey is lighting today the first candle of Advent, and together we will be celebrating the joys of a true Advent season, a waiting not for presents or parties but for the coming of the Lord Jesus, into the world, into our hearts, and very truly into His rightful majesty on earth.
There will be presents and there will be parties, but oh, gracious Lord, let there be an Advent in our lives of the fullness of purpose and praise and power, too. It is to us You gave power to become the sons of God, and it is around your table we gather.
If your Advent wreath is ready to go, you will light the first candle tonight, perhaps at sunset or at dinner … that was always our tradition. That first candle burns each night for the first week during dinnertime, and it shrinks a little, of course, each night. Then the second, third, and fourth, and there they stand like glowing Christmas soldiers lined up by height! If you don’t have an Advent wreath, you can just light a candle, or get creative. Online sources show Advent wreaths made of candles in mason jars and milk bottles or just four candles in different holders.
The traditional colors are pink and purple, the purple for royalty and the pink for the hope of coming joy, but use whatever colors you wish. Traditionally, it is the THIRD candle, the Shepherd’s Candle, that has it’s own color. We will talk more about these things in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, here is a prophecy and a prayer for you to recite tonight, on this first Advent Sunday of 2014.
The first candle is the Candle of Prophecy and Hope, and it’s principle Scripture is from Romans 15:12, 13, quoting the prophet Isaiah:
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
You could preach to your children for an hour on those words! One of the glories of Advent is that it does in tiny morsels what even a Christmas Eve reading of the Gospel portions of the Nativity might not do as effectively, although that’s a grand tradition, too. (My brother-in-law used to sit down on the floor with his sons and my sister and read the Christmas Story to them every year, and I can still remember their faces, and those of my own children when we visited, in wonder as though they had been present at the event.)
Advent readings bring us back each evening before Christmas Day to the stable, to Bethlehem, to God’s faithfulness to His people, to the political climate and Herod’s horrible fears and jealousies and the mercilessness of the Roman conquerors, to our own need, and the triumph of the love of God in the gift of His Son.
The second candle is the Bethlehem Candle, or the Candle of Preparation and Peace.
The third is the Shepherds’ Candle, or the Candle of Joy.
The fourth is the Angel Candle, of the Candle of Love. Or, we may choose to call it the Candle of the Star, the illumination that brought the Magi to Bethlehem some time later.
The fifth candle, when it is used in the center, is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and it is the Christ Candle.
You can imagine what joys of Biblical truth and blessing and hope await.
I hope you will join in. Yours can be as elaborate or as simple a wreath and tradition as you wish, but best of all, as I heard in church last night, would be to give to the Lord an extra 15 minutes of your day to give Him thanks and praise His love in giving us a reason to celebrate every day of the year, now and forever. Amen.
photo courtesy of Isabella’s, Denmark, on Pinterest