Got Questions? December 2016

What do the different colored candles on the Advent wreath mean?”

Advent wreaths have been used by churches for many years to count the weeks leading up to Christmas. Historically, churches have used 3 purple candles and one pink candle with a larger white candle in the center. Purple was used in Advent (as well as during Lent) to signify penitence as the time of Advent was viewed as a time of repentance in preparation for the coming of Christ. In recent years many churches have adopted the use of blue candles as the emphasis during Advent has shifted to a more hopeful anticipation. Coincidentally both purple and blue are colors used to signify royalty. The use of the pink candle goes back to older lectionary practices in which the third Sunday of Advent was called “Gaudete Sunday” from the Latin word for “rejoice!” At that time the traditional text for the third Sunday of Advent was Philippians 4:4-6 which includes the phrase “rejoice in the Lord always”. Today, with the use of the Revised Common Lectionary, this reading is only heard on the 3rd Sunday in Year C. The center white candle is lit on Christmas Eve/Day to signify the birth of Christ.

Got Questions” is a monthly column written by the pastor which seeks to answer various questions church members may have about the Bible, church history, and church/spiritual practices.