Monday, November 28, 2005

First Sunday of Advent

A special part of Advent services is the Advent Wreath. Although a skeptic might suggest the use of evergreen during the Christmas season is related to the fact it is the only greenery available, people have found symbolism in it, of everlasting life or of the promise of life renewed with the passing of the Winter Solstice as akin to the promise of the new life Christians seek in Jesus.

In any case, the advent wreath has four candles, three purple and one pink around the edges, with a fifth, usually white, in the center. Some churches have these lit the entire season, while others, such as the Moravians, have a special service for each, though the details vary by congregation. While I was travelling today, I do have a copy of the reading which accompanied the lighting of the first candle, the Candle of Love:
"'God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.' (John 3:16)

"Today we light the first candle of the Advent Wreath. It is the candle of love. When God created the world He began by bringing light into the darkness, placing the sun, moon and stars in the heavens to light the day and the night.

"Sin and death are represented by darkness. As we journey through this life we need God’s love to light the way, like a lantern, to keep sin at bay, to see who our neighbors are, to help others find the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God’s love is food for the soul and replenishes what sin devours.

"'Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. … God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. … We love because God first loved us.' (1 John 4:7, 16b, 19)"


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