This year, I want to make the Advent Wreath part of our tradition. So I did some research - of course! And I'm posting what I learned as well as a devotional schedule for you to add to your family traditions.
I'm thinking this could be a fun thing for littles as well - make paper candles out of paper and place so they "burn" all week and you can talk about them and their meaning!
Hope you enjoy!
The Meaning of Advent
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14)
"Advent" means “Coming.”
Our Expectations, Anticipation and Preparation for Christ
· Watching for fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecies
· Watching for His Birth
· Watching for his Resurrection
· Watching for His Return
The Advent Wreath
“And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ 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,” (Rom. 15:12-13).
Traditionally, during the Christmas season we have an "Advent Wreath" in our Churches, and this is remarkably celebrated in all Denominations, including Orthodox, Catholic, liturgical, Mainline and Evangelical. The Advent Wreath is a tradition that cuts across denominational and theological boundaries. It dates to the beginning of the 19th century in Europe. This Advent Wreath is arranged with 4 or 5 Advent candles, 3 or 4 of which are in a circle, along with one in the center, all on a base of evergreens each has a powerful message for us about our Lord. This has prevailing imagery we should not take for granted or consider just another holiday decoration.
· The Wreath: The wreath itself means "victory" as Christ's victory over sin (Praise God!!) so He can save us. The Advent Wreath has 4 or 5 candles that are arranged in a circle symbolizing Christ's eternity, as a circle has no beginning and has no end, it is a symbol for God, Who is eternal and thus without beginning or end. The evergreens mean He is "ever with us," they are usually pine branches or holly that are used as a base that represents anticipation, newness, renewal and His everlastingness. The red berries of the holly represent the shedding of Christ's blood.
· The Candles: The Advent candles mean the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His Son. This refers to the significance that Christ is the Light of the world. When they are lit, the illumination is to symbolize the Christ of eternity and His coming as the "Light of the World" and our worship and honor of His most precious gift of His Grace and mercy. These candles also have a color theme too, purple, blue, pink or rose and while. The first two or three are purple meaning royalty and this is also the color of suffering and the darkness of sin, connecting Jesus' birth and crucifixion and His triumph over sin. Blue means sky and life, pink means joy, and white means purity.
Meaning of Candles
· 1st Week – Purple - "CANDLE OF HOPE" means His promise and hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He made to us. Our hope comes from God. (Romans 15:12-13)
· 2nd Week – Purple - "CANDLE OF PREPARATION" means His light and preparation. Preparation means to 'get ready'. "Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD!" (Luke 3:4-6) (Some traditions combine the first two)
· 3rd Week – Rose - "CANDLE OF JOY" means the angels sang a message of JOY! (Luke 2:7-15)
· 4th Week – Blue - "CANDLE OF LOVE" symbolizes Christ love. God sent His only Son to earth to save us, because He loves us! (John 3:16-17) (some traditions omit this one)
· 5th Week – White - "CHRIST CANDLE" symbolizes the incarnation, the heart and reason of the season, God giving light to the world. Its location is in the center as Christ's light is central and radiant. This reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! (in wreaths that have 4 candles, it is in the circle among the rest of the candles)
Sunday, Dec 2. Purple Candle of Hope
Sunday, Dec. 9 Purple Candle of Preparation
Sunday, Dec. 16 Rose Candle of Joy
Sunday, Dec. 23 Blue Candle of Love
Wednesday, December 25, Christmas Day White Christ Candle
· Each candle is during a family devotional. Scripture is read that teaches the principle. Then the previous candles are re-lighted.
Devotional Verses for the Season
FOUR WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS November 28- December 1, 2012
SUNDAY: Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2
MONDAY: Matthew 1:18-24 and Luke 1:26-33
TUESDAY: Luke 2:1-5
WEDNESDAY: Luke 2:6-7
THURSDAY: Luke 2:8-9
FRIDAY: Luke 2:10-12
SATURDAY: Luke 2:13-14
THREE WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS December 2-8, 2012
SUNDAY: Luke 2:15-16
MONDAY: Luke 2:17-18
TUESDAY: Luke 2:19
WEDNESDAY: Luke 2:20
THURSDAY: Luke 2:21
FRIDAY: Matthew 2:1-2
SATURDAY: Matthew 2:3-6
TWO WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS December 9-15, 2012
SUNDAY: Matthew 2:7-8
MONDAY: Matthew 2:9
TUESDAY: Matthew 2:10-11
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 2:12-15
THURSDAY: Galatians 4:4-5
FRIDAY: Ephesians 2:8-9
SATURDAY: 1 John 4:7-16
ONE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS December 16-22, 2012
SUNDAY: Ephesians 2:12-22
MONDAY: John 7:37-38, and 14:6
TUESDAY: Matthew 28:19-20
WEDNESDAY: John 8:12
THURSDAY: John 9:4-5 and Matthew 5:14-16
FRIDAY: Psalm 98:1-6
SATURDAY: John 1:1-3, 14 and Romans 6:23
CHRISTMAS DAY Tuesday, Dec. 25
Psalm 100, Revelation 3:20-21
John 1:29 and John 3:1-8 and Psalm 25