Advent at SSJ
The Advent wreath is a way for Christians the world over to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christ's coming, once in the manger and again in Glory. Each Candle has gone on to symbolize a different aspect of the Advent season.
Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Lutheran pastor in Germany, is credited with inventing the modern Advent wreath in the 19th century. The origins trace back to the mission school Rauhes Haus in Hamburg, founded by Wichern, where eager children asked daily about the arrival of Christmas during the Advent season. In 1839, Wichern crafted a wooden ring, repurposed out of an old cartwheel adorned with 24 small red candles for weekdays and Saturdays, along with 4 large white candles for Sundays.
This unique tradition gained traction among Protestant churches in Germany, eventually evolving into the familiar wreath with four or five candles seen today. The practice gradually extended to Roman Catholics in Germany during the 1920s and later spread to North America in the 1930s.
The colors of the candles utilize the liturgical colors of the Church to signify different aspects of the Advent season. Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice. The third candle, lit on the Third Sunday of Advent (Traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday) is Rose, the liturgical color used to signify Joy.
Each Candle also holds their own significant. As they represent a different theme of the Advent season:
The 1st Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the "Prophet’s Candle" reminding us that Jesus is coming.
The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the "Bethlehem Candle" reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
The 3rd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the "Shepherd’s Candle" reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.
The 4th Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the "Angel’s Candle" reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
After you have crafted your Advent Wreath, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.
All make the Sign of the Cross as the leader says:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Response (R/.) Who made heaven and earth.
Then the Scripture, Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6) or Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 & 19) or Isaiah 64 (lines 2-7) is read:
Reader: The word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
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.
The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:
O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
(Source: The USCCB)