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Advent Candles More Than Light

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The candles that make up the advent wreath hold a special symbolism. In their color, their composition and just the sheer act of lighting the candle of advent wreath breaths a air of hope into each of the nights that make up the season of Advent.

Advent starts by counting backwards the four Sundays. This also is the beginning of the new liturgical calendar year for the church.  The feast of Christ the King is the official start and usually runs as the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. As the church shifts into the season of Advent the colors of the church change and begin to reflect the season as does the tone and tenor as the church moves out of Ordinary Time and into a New Year.

The color purple becomes the overwhelming color and in the church the color purple is the color of repentance. And Advent as a season is a penitential season. But despite the reflection of Advent and its penitential nature, it also is a time to look forward to the coming of Christ. This included the coming of the infant Jesus as well as our wait for Jesus to return.

The first week of Advent the candles is named the Prophecy Candle. The first week of Advent focuses on the prophecies of the Old Testament that speaks of the Savior, Jesus. The Old Testament lays out our salvations The events of His Coming are Prophesized in Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:2-5.  Symbolically the lighting of the first candle reminds us that there is light in the world after the sin of Adam plunged the world into darkness. Another way to put this would be a light in darkness.

The second week of Advent’s Candle, Purple in color, is called the Bethlehem Candle. This candles got its name because of the period of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Thematically preparation is the key. Just as John the Baptist prepared a way for Jesus, Mary Joseph also had a place prepared for them by God in Bethlehem so that the birth of Jesus was a fulfillment of the scripture that was previously prophesized, tying the event to actually the first Advent Candle lit. The prophecy of Bethlehem’s involvement in the birth of Jesus was prophesized in Micah 5:2-5, which names Bethlehem by name.

The third week of advent has the Shepherds Candle. This candle deviates from the 2 previous purple this one is rose colored to represent the joy of being half the way though the Advent Season. This candle received its name because of the Shepherds who came to find the tiny King and received great joy in coming to the Lord. Just as in present times when we find the Lord.

The final weeks of advent has the Angels Candle lighting the way. The Angel candle got its  name because of  because it was of course the angels that announced the birth of Christ. This candle also serves to remind us of God’s infinite love. And the gift of his only Son that he gave us.


This article was published on Sunday 03 August, 2008.

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