Monday, December 5, 2016
The Advent Wreath is a long-standing tradition in many Christian denominations, including the Episcopal Church. Each church community has their own customs and practices regarding the use of Advent Wreaths. In the Episcopal tradition, the Advent Wreath is considered a “visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent” (BOS p. 30). However, there are no “official” guidelines regarding where the wreath is to be placed in the sanctuary, at what point during the service the candles are supposed to be lit, or the liturgy that should accompany the lighting of the candles.
Four candles are used in the wreath, representing the four Sundays of Advent. The candles are traditionally purple or lavender, but sometimes blue or red are used. Many churches choose to include a pink candle that symbolizes joy for the third Sunday in Advent, also known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. While not necessary, a white candle is often included in the center. This white candle is known as Christ’s candle and it is lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas. Other themes such as Hope, Joy, and Peace are sometimes associated with each week of Advent.
Many families choose to have Advent Wreathes in their homes, creating a space for reflection, listening, and prayer. An abundance of resources are available for readings, prayers and other liturgies online and in the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Occasional Services.
- "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
- "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
- "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
- "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
- "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
- "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
- "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
- "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball