First Sunday of Advent
LK 21:25-28, 34-36
December 2, 2018

There are three elements to the Advent wreath, each with its own message, all working together to remind us that over the next four weeks, we are preparing for more than a winter holiday. Advent is a season of spiritual preparation. It is a time to make ourselves ready to celebrate in a special way the truth that God once walked among us…as one just like us…in all ways…in all things…but sin. And a good way to prepare is to take a moment and listen carefully to what the Advent wreath has to say to us.

The circle of evergreen branches is a symbol of everlasting life. That is the promise that Christ brings into the world: EVERLASTING LIFE! The shape of the bright green branches renews that promise.

Then there are the colored candles and ribbons. Purple is to remind us that we are awaiting the arrival of royalty. CHRIST THE KING! This King, however, unlike earthly kings, will never disappoint us, as did the kings who ruled over Israel. This King will fulfill all of God’s promises, ushering in a reign of peace, justice, and love. And so, on the third Sunday, there is a rose-colored candle (some might call it pink) signifying that the event we are preparing for is so incredibly wonderful that we can barely contain our joy. The Advent wreath reminds us that this is truly a season of JOY!

The final element in the Advent wreath is the growing light, increasing with the passage of each week. Even as the earth moves further away from the sun, the increasing light of the candles assures us that The Son draws closer to earth, pushing back against darkness with The Glory of God. This Light of Christ enables us to HOPE that we will find our way home. The Advent wreath, with its living branches and four colored candles, is a symbol that has a great deal to say if we simply take the time to listen.

But there is a single, white candle that has a much more personal message. The Baptismal Candle that is entrusted to parents and Godparents during the celebration of an infant’s Baptism, or handed to an adult who has come into the Church at the Easter Vigil, brings with it a message of JOY and HOPE. It is a vivid and dramatic reminder that, through Baptism, we are invited into the Eternal Circle of Divine Life and Infinite Love, which is God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through this first Sacrament, we become part of The Royal Family, and as such, are called to be ambassadors for the Reign of God. Long after that single white candle is extinguished, the flame of faith continues to burn brightly in the hearts and lives of those who recognize Jesus Christ as Sovereign King. Turning our attention for a moment away from the Advent wreath to focus on our Baptismal Candle sheds light on how to best prepare for the “Day of the Lord” during this season, as well as throughout our lives.

As the flame from the Paschal Candle ignites the Baptismal Candle, the Priest offers this challenge: This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light. May you keep the flame of faith alive in your heart. When the Lord comes, go out to meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

HELPFUL HOLY DAY HINT: Listen closely “to the candles” and discover what you need to do to bring new energy, greater light, and more warmth to the flame that burns within you!