From the Very Rev. Kristi Maulden
The four Sundays and the days in between leading up to Christmas make for the season of Advent. Historically, this time was to remind people to look for the coming of Christ, not just at Christmas but at his coming again at the end of age. As a culture, we focus mostly on little baby Jesus, giving gifts, and gathering with the people we love. Therefore, the sense of the season has changed. The month before Christmas is filled with gift buying, decorating and preparing meals. We go to Christmas concerts and events. We shop the sales, send the cards, make the cookies. It is a time of being busy.
However, Advent calls us to slow down from all the rushing around, so that we do not lose sight of our destination. When we arrive at Christmas, our hearts should be prepared to welcome again God made flesh, Jesus Christ. How do we get there? What can we do in order to respond to God’s call in new and fresh ways?
One way that may be helpful, is to take some time to reflect on the symbols of Advent, the most visible symbol being the Advent Wreath. The Advent Wreath came into being through a Lutheran missionary in the late 1880’s, as a way of helping children mark the time to Christmas. It had four large white candles and six red candles in between the white candles to mark off the week days. Eventually it evolved to purple or blue candles with one pink, and often a white candle in the center. As with anything in the church, we assign meaning to our symbols. Different traditions or even individual churches attach names to the candles: The Prophets’ candle, the Bethlehem candle, the Shepherds’ candle and the Angels’ candle. The most prevalent themes for the blue or purple candles seem to be: hope, faith and love. The pink candle, which is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, represents the joy of praising God.
Taking time each day to reflect on these themes helps our hearts get ready for Christmas. Ask yourself what you hope for. Think on where God has walked with you over the last year. What has given you joy? How have you experienced love? Bring these thoughts to God in quiet moments and ask for God’s peace and light to help you see more. Happy Advent.