When I first arrived in Nashville, I purchased a small booklet that was on Advent. I don’t actually remember why I made that decision. It may have been because it was 99 cents, or that I made the big transition at Christmastime, or simply due to that fact that the Season of Advent had always been a bit of a mystery to me. Being raised Non-Denominational (Protestant), when I grew up, that particular ritual was not observed in the churches I attended. Whatever the reason, I bought it.
This little book introduced me to a journey that begins the first Sunday after eachThanksgiving. It is on that day that the first of five candles are lit. Then, each day of that week thereafter, a short devotional is read along with a suggested portion of Scripture. A new candle is added and lit each Sunday that follows until four candles are finally lit. While new to Tennessee, this little pamphlet opened a whole new world to me and awakened a newfound interest that slowly became a welcomed tradition that I keep to this day.
Not only did I begin to look forward to digging out the booklet each year, I began searching for the 5 colored candles needed (you light one each of the four Sundays after Thanksgiving and the 5th comes later). I even tried to make an Advent wreathe. I managed to catch the first one on fire, so, I’ve been through a few since then.
It has become a tradition of joy. Once the booklet, the wreathe and the candles emerge from the basement, I am ready to go. Each morning, I light my first candle, then with cup of tea at the ready I read the Scripture portion along with the selection for the day. As the second Sunday approaches I light the next candle along with the first. Now two are lit each morning of that week. Then on the third Sunday I begin to light three and on the fourth Sunday I have a small bon fire going. (Just kidding, but you get the picture). Judge usually stays at the opposite end of the house when I perform the lighting. He knows the scenario a bit too well. It isn’t until Christmas morning that I light all four candles plus the long-awaited and remaining 5th candle. If you aren’t familiar with Advent, may I suggest you do a bit of research and see if it isn’t something you might be able to fit into your personal Christmas routine.
As we watched the first candle being lit yesterday in my family’s church, a warm feeling came over me. Ah, Christmastime. Hard to believe, but it’s already here. And the hope it brings? Such a fascination. And, fitting as it is, the first candle is referred to as the “Hope” candle. The ones that follow will be called Love, Joy and Peace. The final candle is referred to as Christ’s Candle and it will be lit the day on Christmas morning.
So, I hope you will be able to light a candle this week. And too, that you will find but perhaps even a moment to enjoy this wondrous season that is known as Advent.