Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent means "coming," and in this liturgical season we prepare for the coming of Christ. One of the ways we can celebrate Advent is by making an Advent wreath and lighting its candles to remind us of the gifts Christ brings to the world.
The Advent wreath includes many symbols. The wreath is in the shape of a circle, without beginning or ending. This reminds us that there is no beginning and no ending to God. God's love and care for us never ends. The evergreen branches are a sign of ever new life. The candles tell us of the light which came into the world with Jesus Christ. The traditional colours of the Advent candles, three violet and one rose, are penitential colours, reminding us that we need God's help top be the people we are meant to be. The white candle which we light on Christmas Eve signifies the coming of Christ.
Today we light the first candle, the candle of hope.
The people of Israel heard God's promises through the prophets. The prophet Isaiah spoke words of hope to Israel. He spoke of the coming of God's realm of Shalom when all nations will walk in God's light. We too hope and pray for a world of peace and harmony.
Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. With the lighting of this candle, we celebrate the hope of Israel, and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
We continue to hope in God's promise that Christ will come again to fill our lives and the life of the world with love and joy and peace. Thank you, God, for the light of hope. As we prepare for Christ's coming, help us to share our hope with others.