1st Monday of Advent

Advent Wreath    

Psalm 118:1-4, 14-18

Give thanks to the Lord because he is good,
    because his faithful love lasts forever.
Let Israel say it:
    “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”
Let the house of Aaron say it:
    “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”
Let those who honor the Lord say it:
    “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”

14 The Lord was my strength and protection;
    he was my saving help!
15 The sounds of joyful songs and deliverance
    are heard in the tents of the righteous:
    “The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!
16     The Lord’s strong hand is ready to strike!
        The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!”

17 I won’t die—no, I will live
    and declare what the Lord has done.
18 Yes, the Lord definitely disciplined me,
    but he didn’t hand me over to death.


As with many symbols used in the modern Church, the Advent wreath represents, to some extent, the baptizing of a pagan tradition.  During celebrations of the winter solstice, some Germanic tribes would create a large circle of torches used to symbolize the eternal nature of the Sun and its protecting light.  Within the circle of torches, there is warmth and light, which prevents the evils roaming in the darkness from hurting anyone within the circle.  After converting, these people recognized that God was the source of their eternal protection and not the Sun and the symbol was kept in recognition of God’s protection.  Since the original festival coincided with the Christian season of Advent, one addition was made to the circle, a center candle.  Now the five candles form a cross within the circle, illuminating the truth that it is through the cross of Christ that God can be our eternal protection.  Some traditions make this more evident by placing six smaller candles between the larger ones to be lit daily.  This practice helps to highlight the circle formed around the central cross.

The Advent wreath reminds us that God’s protection is eternal and surrounds the Church.  This protection began with creation and will continue through eternity.  Even amidst the surrounding darkness, God is always with us and will protect us; but it is only through the Cross of Christ that we enjoy this protection.  It is not always easy to remember the Cross in a time of celebration, but it is essential to our relationship with God, and God’s plan for creation.  How hollow would Christmas be without the event of the Cross; God with us takes on value when God is with us through death and into new life.  When we look on the Advent Wreath, we can remember the love of God is eternal, and the greatest evidence of this fact is that Christ died on the Cross to provide us with the protection of God.

Grant, Heavenly Father, that I might live each day in the awareness of your surrounding presence, and may your light be my protection from darkness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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