Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Here are some recommendations for Advent in your homes.
Official Resources from the Episcopal Church are available for you. The Book of Occasional Services is available for download in its entirety. That is a fabulous gift for all of us. The parts that are most appropriate for our private Advent Candle lighting are here:
There is a lot there. The variety of ways to commemorate the Sundays in Advent is extensive.
But always remember this: all these practices are for you, not you for them. You should not feel you have to use any extensive or expensive systems to light your Advent Candles. If you want to dim the lights, light the candle, and sit quietly, that is a fine prayer to God. There is a very long tradition of lighting the candle and saying the Lord’s Prayer; so, while we want you involved in Advent as much as possible, whatever you can do ascends like incense to God.
Here is some background about Advent itself. This material comes mainly from Crosswalk.com, which is a fine site to visit.
Advent is a time of expectation and hope. “Advent” means “arrival” or “coming.” The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word “parousia.” Advent today is a time of anticipation and expectation of the birth of Christ. This began as early as the 4th and 5th centuries as a time of fasting and prayer for new Christians. It gradually developed into a season that stretched across the month of December. Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839, so it is a relatively recent addition to the season. Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life as the evergreen is continuously green. The circle of candles indicates God’s unending love and eternal life.
Some say prayers and blessings as they light a candle on the wreath each Sunday.
The first candle you light symbolizes hope.
The second candle symbolizes faith.
The third candle, if you have an Advent set, symbolizes joy and is the candle that is a different color, white or pink.
The fourth candle symbolizes peace.
Let me remind you that if you have one candle you can use any service you might find in the Episcopal Church Book of Occasional Prayers. Just light that candle and say the prayers. Or the Lord’s Prayer. Or keep meditative silence. Or write in your journal about what the candle meanings say to you. For instance, what is hope right now, right in this place?
We have been sheltering in place now for a long time. The virus still rages. Advent is a reminder that during this God is still present and is going to make sure we know that by becoming human like us. Completely human, not just a human appearance. And of all the good news you may hear, this is the best of all.
I hope you have a blessed Advent, whether you have many candles, one candle, or no candles. Jesus will be born on Christmas, and you will be prepared.
Thanks be to God!