The placing of candles upon a circle of evergreens is an age-old tradition. Lighting additional candles each day or week as the light wanes, has been part of human rituals for centuries upon centuries. We are warmed by the glow, we are reminded that the wheel of the season will turn, and brilliant lengthening days will return. The original advent wreath in the Christian tradition dates back to the sixteenth century and included a candle for each of the twenty-four days leading up to Christmas.
For us, here in this time, the circle of evergreens reminds us that life and love will never end. We light candles each week with anticipation as we know a new season will soon be here; days will become longer, and we know the warmth of the candles will soon be replaced by the warmth of the sun.
Rev. Rosemary Morrison suggests that each week, a Reader present the introduction, above, and then read that week's reading. She further suggests that a separate Candle Lighter wait until the reader says, "We light the candle of...." to light that week's candle/s.
Week One: Hope
The first advent candle is the candle of Hope. Hope is the motivating force that moves us through times of despair. The days are getting shorter, the weather colder, and the nights longer. Hope tells us that longer days are ahead, that new life will emerge, and that we need to hold on just a little longer. With hope we begin our journey toward the sun and the new life it brings. We light the candle of Hope.
Week Two: Peace
The second candle of the advent wreath represents Peace. In this time of expectancy and celebration let us hold onto the ideal of peace. Even though wars rage around the world, and sometimes in our hearts, we recognize that peace arrives gently and to an open heart. We light the candle of Peace to remind us that it is with the softness of a dove’s wing that peace descends upon us. We light the candle of Peace.
Week Three: Joy
The third candle we light in this advent season is for Joy. Where do we find joy? Is it in the simple things like a warm and fragrant cup of tea? Or in something monumental like the birth of a new family member? In this, the season of sharing, may we find joy in the mundane, the monumental, the familiar, and the strange. Joy can sometimes be elusive, and so we light this candle to help guide our way. We light the candle of Joy.
Week Four: Love
As the wheel of the seasons turn, and as we are brought closer and closer to the sun, we are reminded of how love is the source of compassion and warmth. Love animates our days, informs our decisions, and quickens our hearts. This fourth advent candle represents all we hold dear; our precious memories, our caring for one another, and our beautiful planet that sustains us. Love knows us, holds us, and nurtures us. May love find us this advent season as we rest here for a moment, take in the stillness, and be present to ourselves and those around us. We light the candle of Love.