Saturday, December 5

advent 2009

The Advent wreath is one of the most visible and recognizable symbols of the Advent season. Despite its current popularity, its exact origin is unknown. One theory credits a pastor in Germany in the mid-1800s for inventing the modern Advent wreath. His name was Johann Hinrich Wichern. He was a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor, having created a mission school for children. During the weeks prior to Christmas, the school’s students would ask Wichern daily when Christmas was going to arrive. So in 1839 Wichern took an old cartwheel and placed on it nineteen small red candles and four large white candles. A red candle was lit each weekday and a white candle was lit each Sunday. This allowed the children to mark the time progression of Advent until the arrival of Christmas. This custom gained popularity in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four candles known today throughout the Church.

The Advent wreath is rich with symbolic meaning. The circular shape of the wreath represents eternity, and thereby symbolizes the never-ending nature of God’s love. Evergreens often form or decorate the wreath, and symbolize the ever-lasting essence of life with God. The candles, first lit in succession the four Sundays prior to Christmas, symbolize the light brought by God into the world. Remember the word advent literally means coming or arrival. The season of Advent is intended to be a time of preparation – preparation for the coming of the Christ. This means Advent is an opportunity for us to personally prepare ourselves for the coming of God’s love and life and light into our lives anew. The Advent wreath perfectly symbolizes such preparation and God’s fulfilling gifts. May we each freshly experience the love and life and light of Christ this Advent season.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Come in today.
Come in to stay.
Come into our hearts, Lord Jesus.

– Rick Sebastian

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