I grew up going to a Lutheran church, baptized and confirmed into the faith. As much as I hated my confirmation classes (on Saturday mornings from 8 to noon! I can’t believe I didn’t get on my coffee kick when I was 12!), I think they provided a solid foundation for me in terms of my faith and the bible. Definitely moreso than I realized or appreciated at the time.
There was a tree set up each year, right after Thanksgiving, to the right of the altar decorated with white ornaments and white lights. An advent wreath hung from a thin chain from the tall ceiling, hanging just over the organ. There were four candles: three purple and one pink. Each Sunday of advent, the acolytes (young men/women who lit candles for the service and helped with communion) would light a candle and there would be a reading from the Scriptures, typically a part of the Christmas story and maybe a Psalm if I remember right.
I did some research on Advent wreaths this morning, and their history and symbolism is actually really interesting. First of all, the word “advent” is latin for “coming,” meaning its the season of Jesus coming to us in the flesh. The purple candles represent royalty, and the pink (in a mix of Advent purple and Christmas white) respresents the Third Sunday of advent (Gaudete Sunday, gaudete meaning “to rejoice”). Of course, there are multiple theories as to the wreath’s history, and lots of meanings and symbolism behind the lighting of the candles.
But one aspect I read that I LOVED was from Wikipedia (don’t judge):
I liked this because the past week or so, all I’ve heard from family and friends is that they wish the Christmas season lasted longer. They can’t get enough of the extra time off, the gifts, the food, the family they don’t get to see often. It’s fairly typical for the average person to just be more giving in general, to relax a little more, and to let the joy of the season lift them up. Christmas music, extra sweets, (maybe extra working out to balance out all the extra calories), extra phone calls, extra visits, extra serving. There’s more donations, more volunteering, more “adopting of families.” These are all the things that soften the heart of God. I feel like the lightness of the season is almost a way for God to show us how He wants us to live. The Christmas season is the epitome of how we should live our lives all the time. Jesus brought light to the world so we could have joy, so we could love more, and so we could know Him.
Sometimes I feel like maybe we only do that for the few weeks before Christmas, and then we just go back to normal life because heaven forbid the rest of the year be as glittery and happy and giving as Christmas.
I think that pink candle of rejoicing should stay lit the entire year. Christmas isn’t the only time to rejoice in all the good things we’ve been given. May we always anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus while rejoicing in His presence today. And may we let that light shine all year, not just at Christmas.