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gb_christmas_wreathWhen I was a child Christmas Eve was special time.

The milk and mince pie were carefully placed by our fireplace, oh and not forgetting for Rudolph; I didn’t want to upset Father Christmas or his reindeer.

 After all he was the one coming with all the gifts and I had been a good for the whole year… well most of the year anyway!

The presents would be wrapped in a multitude of bright colours, the red of Santa’s coat, the green of the Christmas tree, with silver and gold, shinning and glistening…always beckoning me ever closer in those dark, still, early hours of Christmas day.

I had helped my mum put the decorations up. After hours of licking and sticking, the paper chains finally crissed crossed the ceiling.

Then my dad scrambled up into our dark, and I have to say somewhat scary attic. It was mysterious and creepy darkness with cobwebs and spiders.

After fumbling around for some time dad would bring down some large dusty brown boxes with the words ‘xmas stuff’ scrawled on the side. I knew what treasures lay within.

Our Christmas tree stood in the corner of the room – it looked huge. Its tip leaned ever so slightly to the left with the weight of the gold star. Was it real gold I’d wondered?

We hung baubles after bauble, old and new. The chocolates hung temptingly in their shiny foil, but no – I mustn’t, Santa was coming – I wanted my presents and I was good, honestly!

And then we put out our little nativity scene, Mary, Joseph, two sheep, one cow, three wise men, two shepherds and my brothers contribution…a cowboy on a horse!

And of course Jesus in his manger, in the middle, between his mum and dad, it was after all his birthday.

And then it was time for bed, not that I could sleep….

I heard someone complaining the other day that Christmas is for children and they are right. Christmas is for children and we are all children of God. And we await the coming of Jesus with the awe and wonder of that child on Christmas Eve.

The word ‘advent’ is Latin for ‘a coming or arrival’.dscf0040-11

The idea behind it is that God came to earthly life and lived among us, which is news to stop the presses for. It’s something to celebrate, rejoice, because just by being in it, God was giving the supreme blessing to the created world. But this birth led to an execution of this same God on behalf of us, and then the greatest news that death will not end it all. So it’s not something you just go rushing into. We need to take stock of what that baby Jesus was here for. When we see the baby and the birth, the adult Jesus and His execution are also in sight.

And with this comes symbolism used by most churches.

So we will focus the simple Advent candle.

The Candles symbolize that Jesus is the Light of the World.

There are four candles, one for each Sunday leading to Christmas and a fifth candle for Christmas day. The four Sunday candles are usually tapers. There are variations in the colouring of the candles, often there are three purple and one pink candle. Occasionally, all of the candles are purple. The central candle is usually a large white pillar candle.

The purple represents repentance. The pink symbolizes joy. The central candle is called the Christ candle and is not lit until Christmas day. When you light the candle it is customary to read a few verses of scripture that relate to meaning of the candle. Often the person who lights the candle recites a short statement of belief and faith as the candle is lit and then everyone unites in prayer.

The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope)

The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.

The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way)

The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness.

The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy)

The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last.

The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace)

The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world.

The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle)

The fifth candle represents Christ himself who is born to save people from their sins. It is a celebration of the fulfilment of prophecy as represented in Christ’s birth and hope in the final fulfilment when Christ comes again and Christians join him.