Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Colors of Advent

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11

Tis the season of traditions.  This week we are looking at the tradition of Advent and all that it symbolizes.    

An advent wreath traditionally contains four candles—three purple and one rose. Purple dyes were once so rare and costly that they were associated with royalty; the church has long used this color around Christmas and Easter to honor Jesus. Purple is also the color of repentance and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the coming of the King.  The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

In many churches the third Sunday remains the Sunday of Joy marked by pink or rose. It represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration. The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candles reflected this lessening emphasis on repentance and more attention to the celebration of the season.

White is the color of the center Advent candle representing purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Red and Green are more secular colors of Christmas. They derive from older European practices of using evergreens and holly to symbolize ongoing life and hope that Christ’s birth brings into a cold world. Although red and green are often used as part of the church decorations they are never used as liturgical colors during Advent since those colors have other uses in other parts of the church year.

The three purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, peace, and love. These candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The rose candle, which symbolizes joy, is usually lit on the third Sunday. Often, a fifth candle, the white Candle representing Christ is placed inside the Advent wreath. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve.

The light of the candles is a symbol also.  The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world and that He comes to a world of darkness, to extinguish the darkness to the world and to our lives.  He brings hope. He brings mercy, forgiveness, new life and salvation.  The light of the candles can also remind us that we are called to be the light of the world.  We reflect the light and love of God to others.   The lighting of the candles over the four weeks of Advent also symbolizes the dissipating of fear, hopelessness, sin and darkness in the light of Christ.  Finally the center candle stands for Christ’s birth and the hope and promise fulfilled.

As you can see the Advent season is full of symbolism to help us focus on the true meanings of the season.  I hope you will be involved and get your family involved this Advent season leading up to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our savior and hope.

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

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