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ADVENT WREATH CANDLELIGHTING

A Christian Festival


The Advent Wreath Candlelighting is a Christian Festival that can be observed in the home as well as in the Church. This simple ceremony, in my home, takes place when the family is gathered together at any time but generally during the main meal. It is a time to remember the First Coming of Christ and to anticipate His Second Coming. 

The wreath, candles, light of the candles, lighting the candles, candle colors, are all symbolic, the meaning of each is explained below. Some celebrations use four candles. I personally prefer the five candles as the celebration of choice.

The Circle of the Wreath: God Himself, His eternity and His endless mercy, without beginning, nor end.

The Green of the Wreath: Our hope of newness, renewal and eternal life.

Light of the Candles: The Light of God that came into the world through Christ to bring newness, life and hope.

Lighting the Candles: The progressive departure of darkness from the world as more and more light is shed through the candles.

Four Candles: The four weeks of Advent, representing the four centuries between the time of the Prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The candles, generally purple or blue, I use purple, represent a period of waiting, expectation and preparation: First Candle: A time of expectation and hope. Second Candle: The peace that is to come. Third Candle: Symbolizes joy for the promise is almost fulfilled. (Some folks use a Rose color for the third candle). Fourth Candle: The love of God for mankind.

The Fifth Candle (if applicable, I personally use it), is called the "Center Candle," white in color and is lit on Christmas Eve or Day to display that the light of Christ has come into the world in fulfillment of the prophecies.


The First Sunday of Advent WAITING
The Second Sunday of Advent DREAMING
The Third Sunday of Advent HEALING
The Fourth Sunday of Advent PROMISE
Christmas Eve or Day THE CANDLE OF CHRIST

The Blessing of the Advent Wreath in church usually occurs after the homily. The prayer of blessing takes the place of the concluding prayer of the General Intercessions. The blessing takes place only on the First Sunday of Advent. On the Second and succeeding Sundays of Advent, the candles are lighted either before Mass begins or immediately before the opening prayer; no additional rites or prayers are used.

The following is the tradition of my family and differs slightly from the prayer of blessing in church.


The First Sunday of Advent
WAITING

Family or Guest A:

This is the first Sunday of Advent when we read again of how God's people waited for the coming of the Messiah.  Advent is the season of waiting and preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Family or Guest B:

This time of waiting is also a time for us to be working for peace among the nations, and peace with each other.  It is a time for us to change our priorities as we walk in the light that God gives us.

Family or Guest A:

As part of our Advent waiting we celebrate Christ's coming by making an Advent wreath and lighting its candles to remind us of the hope Christ brings to the world.  The round shape of the wreath reminds us of the unbroken love of God.  The green branches speak of new life, and the candles proclaim the light that came into the world with Jesus Christ.

Family or Guest B: 

Today we light the first candle. The flickering of the flame reminds us that our waiting is a time of both contemplation and action. (Light the first candle)

ALL pray

Dear God, through Your Spirit You spoke to prophets, and the people prayed and waited for a Messiah to come. Through Your Spirit You spoke to Mary and Joseph, and they responded and waited for their child to be born. Through Your Spirit, speak to each of us that we may feel Your presence and know Your will in our Advent waiting this year. Amen. 

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The Second Sunday of Advent
DREAMING

Family or Guest A:

On this second Sunday of Advent we hear stories of the dreams and longings of God's people.  The Hebrew people dreamed of a king who would rule with justice and peace.  The apostle Paul had a dream that all people would belong to God.  John the Baptist invited people to dream with him about the coming of God's reign.

Family or Guest B: 

We share these dreams that can lead to life-changing action.

Family or Guest A:

God's people have long dreamed of the coming of peace, justice, and faithfulness to God's ways.  In our own time we dream of equality and good life for everyone.  Such dreams come from God and inspire us to work for justice and peace.

Family or Guest B: 

With John the Baptist we dream of making crooked paths straight, of making smooth highways broad enough for all God's people to move on together in peace and harmony.

Family or Guest A:

Our actions can help build that highway.  God's dream can become our dream.

Family or Guest B: 

Last week we saw the first candle light.  Its flickering flame reminded us that our waiting is to be both contemplative and active. (Light the first candle)  The flame of the second candle reminds us that just as candles can be given a flame, so God's dreams can become real in our world. (Light the second candle)

ALL pray

Loving God, give us the desire, the willingness, and the courage to be part of Your dream for a world made new. We pray in the name of Jesus, Your dream incarnate. Amen.

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The Third Sunday of Advent
HEALING

Family or Guest A:

On this third Sunday of Advent we join with the writers of Scripture to sing of hope and healing.  With our hearts we praise the Lord, and we are glad because of God our Savior.

Family or Guest B: 

Healing takes many forms.  People are healed from diseases, social and political injustice are corrected, even the earth itself can be restored to support new life.

Family or Guest A:

Elizabeth recognized that Mary would give birth to a Child who would save His people, and Mary sang a song of praise to God.  But her song is not a lullaby to soothe people to sleep.  Her song is a strong declaration of God's greatness.

Family or Guest B: 

God's greatness was shown in Christ and is still active in the world.  The Child of Mary brought a message of healing that continues as we follow Christ's words and actions.

Family or Guest A: 

Today we relight the first and second candles on our Advent wreath.  (Light the first and second candle) The light of these burning candles reminds us that our waiting and dreaming can make a positive difference in our world.

Family or Guest B: 

God's desire is for healing and reconciliation.   The flame of this third candle reminds that God calls us to be part of the healing of the world. (Light the third candle)

ALL pray

Dear God, so many people need Your healing and hope. In this season of giving, and on every day of the year,  help us to say and to do those things that continue Christ's ministry of compassion and caring. Amen.

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The Fourth Sunday of Advent
PROMISE

Family or Guest A:

Through the prophets, God promised a Messiah.  In a dream, God promised Joseph that Mary "will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because He will save His people."  God's promises have been kept.

Family or Guest B: 

The birth of a child is a sign that life will carry on.   It was through the birth of a weak and vulnerable human baby that God has most closely identified with each of us.  The mighty God has become Emman'uel, "God with us."  This was astounding news, then, at that first Christmas.  It is astounding news now.  Christmas is about God, with us.

Family or Guest A:

In the birth of Jesus, God's promise of hope and healing is made in a new and wonderful way.  We remember, though, that strength and determination are necessary in fulfilling any promise.  Joseph and Mary showed great courage as they responded to God's call.

Family or Guest B: 

We relight the Advent candles of waiting, dreaming, and healing.  Their flames remind us that God is active in our lives and in the world around us. (Light the first three candles)

Family or Guest A:

God promised to love and care for all that God created.   The rainbow is one sign of this promise; the birth of Jesus is another wonderful sign that God has not left us on our own.  The flame of this fourth candle gives us courage for our daily living by reminding us of the promise of Emman'uel - God is with us. (Light the fourth candle)

ALL pray

Loving God, we thank You that you have fulfilled Your promise. Emman'uel has come. We rejoice in your faithfulness. Give us courage to respond with love and compassion. Amen.

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Christmas Eve or Day
THE CANDLE OF CHRIST

Family or Guest A:

Advent has been a time of waiting, dreaming, healing, and promise.  Our time of preparation is over and we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Family or Guest B: 

Each week during Advent we light another candle on our wreath, and each week the candles glowed and the light shone more brightly. (Light the four candles of the Advent Wreath)

Family or Guest A:

We have read Bible verses that have spoken to us of God's faithfulness and of the hope and dreams of God's people through the ages.  The people waited and dreamed for a Messiah who would bring healing and peace.  God's promise was kept.  The Savior has come.

Family or Guest B:  

God's love has been shown in a most wonderful way: a child has been born.  We know Him as Emman'uel - God with us; we know Him as Jesus -- the one who saves; we know Him as the fullest expression of God's love for us.

Family or Guest A:

Today we light the Candle of Christ, the candle which reminds us of Jesus.  It is the center of this wreath, just as Jesus is the center of our lives.  The light of Christ shines for all to see.  (Light the Candle of Christ)

ALL pray

Generous God, you have given us a time of preparation to receive again Your gift of love and joy and hope and healing. In the birth of the child, Jesus, You have given new life to each of us. May we experience the presence of Emman'uel, God with us, this day, and always. Amen.

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Emman'uel, that is, God with us, the title applied by the Apostle Matthew to the Messiah, born of the Virgin, Matt, 1:23; Isa. 7:14, because Jesus was God united with man, and showed that God was dwelling with men. The spelling of Imman'uel is also used.


Prayer of Blessing

With hands outstretched, the celebrant says:

Lord God, your church joyfully awaits the coming of the its Savior, who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin. Pour forth your blessings upon us as we light the candles of this wreath; may their light reflect the splendor of Christ, who is Lord, forever and ever.

Amen.

Or

Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ: He is Emman'uel, the hope of the peoples, he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us, he is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Prayerbook

A Catholic Religious Site

"A Collage of Catholic Information"

SUBJECTS