This is the first year that we decided to make our very own advent wreath. First, let’s get some questions out of the way.
- What is advent? Advent is the period of time in the church liturgical season where we await the coming of Christ in the flesh (Christmas). The services are hopeful and solemn, not super bombastic or celebratory as Christmas.
- What is liturgy? What is Anglican liturgy? Liturgy is an orderly and structured form of church worship that consists of a combination of prayers, readings, songs, and sacraments. The Anglican liturgy is uniquely defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It specifically contains a 3-year schedule of prayers (where you sometimes stand and sometimes sit), readings from the Bible (at least one from the Old Testament, one of the Epistles, and one from the Gospels), and the sacrament (Communion). Each year is broken down into liturgical seasons where upon a different theme is focused. This sounds boring, you may be thinking. With centuries of knowledge and time dedicated to figuring out the best chorus of verses and prayers, the liturgy is quite exciting and helps focus the soul on what’s most important: Christ. Check out this article on “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy.”
- What is an advent wreath? An advent wreath is a wreath (like the branches twisted into a circle that people often hang on their doors) with five candles. There are three purple candles (representing Hope, Love and Peace), one pink candle (Joy), and one white candle in the center that represents Christ. The candles also represent each week of advent, so Week 1 is Hope, Week 2 is Love, Week 3 is Joy (Pink), Week 4 is Joy and Christmas Day is Christ (White). For more info on advent wreaths, click here.
- What’s the purpose of the advent wreath? It is a tool to help us think on each weekly theme as the advent of Christ draws near. Each element of the wreath has symbolic meaning. We must remember to repent from our sins and work toward a holy life to prepare for Christ.
- What happens when you light each candle? We choose to conduct a small home prayer ‘service’ that includes scripture readings, some singing, and prayers. Click on the document “Advent Wreath Prayers” for a PDF example of what we pray.
The task to create our own advent wreath was a challenge! At first, we thought for sure Christmas Tree Shops would have advent wreaths and candles. We were WRONG. We ended up finding an ugly plain wreath that we could decorate, but no candles or ribbons or ornaments. We then headed on over to JoAnn Fabrics and found a much prettier wreath for $9.99 (Now it’s $12.00 at this link). They also had advent candles for $5 (pack of four) and single white candles for $1.20 each (found here), and glass candleholders for $2.25 each. We bought 3 yards for purple ribbon fabric for $2.66/yd, a roll of purple tulle for $2, and a box of jingle bell ornaments ($5).
I could not help but notice how different our shopping was from all the other people at the store that day. The beginning of advent falls on “Black Friday Weekend” and all of the stores were still having big sales. People were out shopping like crazy for Christmas gifts and ‘getting in’ on the deals. It helped me realize how easy it is to fall into the consumeristic habits this advent and Christmas season promotes.
At home, I weaved the purple tulle around the wreath, made a four-ribbon bow out of the purple fabric and placed it on top of the wreath, placed the jingle ornaments in the wreath and arranged the candleholders and candles around the wreath.
We had our first advent wreath prayer meeting that very evening and were so pleased with the wreath that we left the candle burning for quite a while. Thinking retrospectively, I’m not sure if we should have used up 1/3 of the candle in one evening! We’ve been careful with it since then. It is now the fourth day of the first week of advent. It has been a beautiful way to focus our minds on the season of advent and not get carried away with the consumerism of the American Christmas season.
I encourage you to start making an advent wreath if you don’t have one already! If you don’t have that luxury, at least meditate on the following passages from the Bible for this first week of advent:
Monday – St. Mark 1:1–13
Tuesday – St. Mark 1:14–28
Wednesday – St. Mark 1:29–39
Thursday – St. Mark 1:40-45
Friday – St. Mark 2:1–12
Saturday – St. Mark 2:13–22
A quote from the Devotional Commentary on the Collects for Advent by Peter Toon & J. S. S. Patterson:
“As we seek to keep a holy Advent, I would like to suggest that you
take some time to consider the love of God made manifest in the
Incarnation of our Lord Jesus. Let us also consider His holy life, offered for us in order that we might be redeemed from sin and made sons of God by adoption (and because we are sons, also therefore heirs of the kingdom of Heaven). Let us take time to meditate upon those things that characterize Jesus’ love (things like selfless giving, humility, zeal for righteousness, longsuffering, unwavering resolve, submission to the Father’s will, etc.) and consider how we might strive (with God’s help) to be more and more like Him in our love for each other.”
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