Advent

‘We light a candle to brighten the shadows and warm our hearts.’

Imagine, many years ago—in certain parts—when wheels were removed from carts, now made obsolete for the winter with water-logged or frozen tracks, brought indoors to protect them from frost and rain, and decorated with light and evergreen leaves.  Glowing in the corner or suspended from the ceiling to bring a comforting glow to the home, the wreath soon became filled with profound meaning as the family prepared for Christmas.

Gazing upwards it resembles for us a gateway to heaven, and symbolises the anticipation of heaven breaking through to earth, as we await the coming of Jesus.

The ring too symbolises eternity and the life we share with Christ, an image which is also drawn out in the evergreen leaves.  It can also represent the world as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ who has come to live among his people.

Whatever form your wreath takes it is indeed a lovely addition to the home, and can be a natural focus of prayer perhaps as dusk descends and darkness settles.

The Lighting of the Advent Wreath

The candles may be lit effectively in silence, the action therefore deserving the full attention of all present or accompanied by a simple verse and response such as:

Jesus Christ is the light of the world: a light no darkness can overpower.

Advent 1

Eternal God, as darkness settles across our ancient land and the cold winter lays heavy upon our lives we light a candle to brighten the shadows and warm our hearts, so that he of whom the patriarchs spoke may find us alert to his presence and ready to welcome him, the Light of the world, for he is Lord forever and ever.  Amen.

Advent 2

Eternal God, as the days shorten and the evenings draw swiftly in we light a candle to enlighten our minds and stir our hearts so that he of whom the prophets spoke may find us watching and waiting to welcome him, the Light of the world, for he is Lord forever and ever.  Amen.

Advent 3

Eternal God, as the darkness beckons closer and the night-time lingers on we light a candle to dispel the darkness of our hearts and chase away the shadows of our minds so that he of whom John the Baptist spoke may find a bright and clear path and find us ready and willing to welcome him, the Light of the world, for he is Lord forever and ever.   Amen.

Advent 4

Eternal God, as we seek the dawning brightness and the lengthening of days we light a candle to quicken our hearts and warm our frozen lives so that he who took flesh in the womb of Mary may find us eager to welcome him and ready to embrace him, the Light of the world, for he is Lord forever and ever.   Amen.

The following prayers are simpler and may be more appropriate for use with children. 

Advent 1

Hurry, Lord Jesus, and come to us quickly: our hearts are filled with excitement at your coming into the world. May your ancient promises fulfil the hopes of everyone on earth. Amen. (Or Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus)

Advent 2

Hurry, Lord Jesus, and come to us quickly: our hearts are filled with praise at your coming into the world. May the message of the prophets reach the ears of everyone on earth. Amen. (Or Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus)

Advent 3

Hurry, Lord Jesus and come to us quickly: our hearts are filled with joy at your coming into the world. May the glory of your presence light up the minds of everyone on earth. Amen. (Or Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus)

Advent 4

Hurry, Lord Jesus, and come to us quickly: our hearts are filled with awe at your coming into the world. May the joy of your birth in Bethlehem fill the lives of everyone on earth. Amen. (Or Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus)

These and other resources can be found in the Church in Wales’ Times and Seasons material (Advent to Candlemas)

OTHER ADVENT IDEAS

The Jesse Tree

Use your usual Christmas Tree but decorate it with Jesse Tree symbols during Advent. Transform it into a Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve with lights and decorations.

Advent ‘O’ Antiphons

From December 17th, Advent takes a different turn, and the O Antiphons for each day can be beautiful prayers and points for reflection.

St Lucy’s Wheat

Be patient as you plant wheat seeds on S Lucy’s Day (13 December) and place the greenery at your Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve, an offering to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Las Posadas

Place an image of Mary and Joseph from your nativity scene around the house, moving it closer to the scene each day until they arrive on Christmas Eve!

“May your ancient promises fulfil the hopes of everyone on earth.”

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