I’m a huge fan of the Advent wreath, and, in fact, I have a whole talk I give centered around it.
Advent wreaths are fun for a lot of reasons, and I think, for me, it comes down to this: flames are fun. There’s a reason so many women I know have candles burning. And there’s no doubt I know there’s a reason why the men I know love the day when they have to go into the back field to burn the pile of brush.
I have the standard issue simple wreath, and that’s what we have on the dinner table.
And then there’s the Advent wreath that tells the story that my aunt used to tell me. I’ll share it here in an abbreviated form. Though I’ve lost the paper she gave me years ago (I have no doubt I’ll find it someday with St. Anthony’s help), I did find the inspiration for this at Living Hope.
This year, this wreath is on the bar between our kitchen and living room. It’s a catch-all sort of place, and I was hoping putting this wreath there would help me be inspired to keep it cleaned off. As you can tell from these pictures, I’ve not be tooooo successful with that…
The first week of Advent, we light the candle by Mary.
I reflect on Mary receiving the visit from the angel and saying Yes. I consider how she is the fulfillment of many prophecies. She’s also the embodiment of hope. And she reminds me, in ways I so often need, that this season of Advent is all about hope.
The second week of Advent, we light the candle by Joseph and Baby Jesus.
My aunt called this the “Bethlehem Candle,” and it’s a call to remember how we are to make room for the Baby in our own hearts.
The third week of Advent, we light the candle by the shepherds.
The shepherds were the first to hear the Good News. Consider how humble and poor they were, how they were the very lowest of the low in the society of their time. (And do NOT consider what a MESS that counter was when I took this picture!) I also consider that this is the week of the rose candle (NOT pink, my priest reminds me every year). It’s a call to rejoice. And that’s what the shepherds did!
Then, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the candle by the angel.
The angels remind us that God sent his Son to save us. And they should also be a reminder to us of just what an amazing thing that is. We’re so used to God becoming man that it’s all too easy to downplay it in our lives.
And then, on Christmas, we light the Christ Candle. That’s the big white one in the center. In my second wreath, it’s a candle that one of my students gave me last year when I was teaching 5th grade religious education. Someday, I hope to use that idea to make each of my kids their own Advent wreaths (hey, one of you crafty types, come up with an easy way for that, wouldja?). It’s a refillable candle from the Catholic store near us, and it burns uber-long.