Advent and the Advent Wreath

I wrote the following words in November 2013. I was a different beast then. Although I still hold to some of my obervations.

“This time of year has become a whirlwind of frantic spending and feasting. It’s motivation appears to be big business preying on the appetites of people who are financially, spiritually and possibly morally semi-bankrupt. To a degree where all moved by this – either sucked in or radically cynically anti.

Advent can help us gain a calmer, more hopeful perspective on life. It can help balance the joy of giving and sharing with the celebration of the gift of life and the gift of this Universe as our home. It isn’t helpful to think “religious”; even though Advent has it’s conception in religion. Think of it as the opportunity to develop clear thoughts on the coming Year – yes also to look forward in anticipation of a feast. But, more than any time in human history, this planet Earth – our only home -is in need of a “saviour”. What can we do to bring them into our “home”?

All the “isms” ever invented have fallen short of being the answer. The most recent one, consumerism, has failed us by creating greed and poverty. Capitalism and Communism became new-socialism and they couldn’t get their “menage a trois” together. Religion continues to confuse, control and corrupt. Climate change could render this planet – our home – uninhabitable for the level of population which clings to it’s surface. So where is the answer? What has Advent got to do with the Twenty-first Century non-Christian citizen?

Think of it as preparing your home for a special guest. They are welcome, but they might ask some pointed questions on what you believe and what you’re doing with your life. It might be an opportunity to put some of your own relationships right. It could be to chance to get rid of some of the clutter, mental or physical; we all  acquire throughout the year. It could be the time to look at some of the issues that can’t be explained by science or reason. It’s a time for new perspectives and preparation – so in your whole life try something new.

I am sure in my Christian perspective and look forward to the coming Saviour in the form of baby Jesus. That was God’s way of doing things – I can only wonder. I look forward to the loving power of the Risen Christ in my life (that’s the Easter effect – don’t want to go deep into that now)”  theDodger.blogspot Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Advent? – what is it? When was it “invented” and why? Wikipedia provides some basic facts.

“It is not known when the period of preparation for Christmas that is now called Advent began – it was certainly in existence from about 480 – and the novelty introduced by the Council of Tours of 567 was to order monks to fast every day in the month of December until Christmas.

It is “impossible to claim with confidence a credible explanation of the origin of Advent.  Associated with Advent as a time of penitence was a period of fasting, known also as the Nativity Fast or the Fast of December. According to Saint Gregory of Tours the celebration of Advent began in the fifth century when the Bishop Perpetuus directed that starting with the St. Martin’s Day on 11 November until Christmas, one fasts three times per week; this is why Advent was sometimes also named “Lent of St. Martin”. This practice remained limited to the diocese of Tours until the sixth century “.

The concept of the Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the 16th Century. However, it was not until three centuries later that the modern Advent wreath took shape. The modern Advent wreath, with its candles representing the Sundays of Advent, originated from a Nineteenth Century initiative by a Protestant pastor in Germany.

There are many interpretations of the meaning of the symbolism of the four candles – yes “four candles” not “fork handles”! I have chosen this one – below. I’d be interested in your comments.

The first candle symbolizes HOPE. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

The second candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes PEACE. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

The third candle symbolizes JOY. It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and is often pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent. Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice” the opening word of the liturgy for this Sunday.

On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle symbolizes LOVE or FAITH

The white candle is often placed in the middle of the wreath and lit at Christmas. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ. The colour white is is used signifying purity—because Christ is our sinless, pure Saviour.

I pray that you will explore the HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE or FAITH during Advent as you walk towards the light of Christmass – the Feast of the Birth of our Saviour.

Your friend, Roger Huxley

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