Pastor's Corner 120912

posted Dec 5, 2012, 11:11 AM by Music Director


               As we journey through this wonder-filled season of light, we use many signs and symbols to express our hope and joy in the coming of Christ.  One of the most familiar is the Advent Wreath, a circle of evergreen branches surrounding four candles by which we count the weeks leading to Christmas.  This symbol originated in a cultic ritual practiced by the Germanic peoples of northern Europe before their conversion to Christianity. 

As in many cultures around the world, these people worshipped the sun as one of their many gods.  In winter, as daylight faded to just a few hours each day, they beseeched the sun-god to “return” with the brightness of its light and comfort of its warmth.  Around the time of the winter solstice (late December) when night was at its longest, they would strip wagons of their wheels, weave native greenery (mostly boughs of pine) through the spokes, and attach torches to the rims.  Setting them ablaze each night, they petitioned a return of the sun. 

Christian missionaries sent to evangelize these tribes saw a parallel symbolism in their own hope of the return of Jesus, the “Sun of Justice,” He who is “Light from Light” as the Nicene Creed proclaims. In this wheel of light they saw a bridge between the culture of these people and the faith they were sent to preach, and the Advent Wreath was born.

Instead of invoking the sun-god to return, the Advent Wreath is a visible reminder that Jesus, the Light of the World promised to return in a blaze of glory to fulfill God’s plan of salvation.  As we mark the weeks leading to Christmas, the celebration of His first coming, we remind ourselves that as He once came, so He will come again.

The wreath takes on added symbolism in that as a circle, a line with no beginning or end, it reminds us of the eternity of God and His loving promise of a share in His immortality.  As evergreen branches are used to adorn this circle, they symbolize God’s everlasting Word, love, mercy, compassion, and especially His promise ofeternal life.  The candles are usually purple and pink, the colors of Advent.  (We’ll take a look at that next week.)

If you haven’t already done so, something you might consider is making an Advent Wreath for your home.  It’s an excellent project, especially for children.  You can light the appropriate number of candles at dinnertime as you say grace, and perhaps add a simple petition like, “Lord Jesus, come in glory,” which was the great cry of the early Church.  This might help deepen not only your appreciation of this holy season, but also help you to prepare for all of which it reminds us. 

While I hope you’re enjoying the season and getting your shopping and other tasks accomplished, please try to keep foremost in your mind and heart that JESUSis the “reason for the season!”  So in the words of St. John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

 

In His Love,

Fr. Mike

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