When my children were little, they loved the season of Advent because the first Sunday after Thanksgiving we got our Advent wreath out and they got to light a candle every day and pray as they …
When my children were little, they loved the season of Advent because the first Sunday after Thanksgiving we got our Advent wreath out and they got to light a candle every day and pray as they anticipated Christmas. The church gives us seasons of preparation and celebration to help us rededicate ourselves to God, renew our faith, strengthen our hope and share God’s love and joy with one another. The season of Advent started on Nov. 29 this year.
I love the season of Advent because it is full of ancient traditions that focus on God’s merciful love for all his children. In the Old Testament we find the story of the miracle of light in the book of Maccabees. Some folks may not be familiar with the books of Maccabees because some churches have opted to exclude several books from their Bible, including Maccabees 1 and 2, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Wisdom and Judith. However, the miracle of light, or better known as Hanukah (meaning dedication), is widely celebrated by Israelites.
It was Judah Maccabee (meaning hammer) who led the guerilla warfare against pagan occupants, cleaned up the desecrated temple and rededicated it to God again. After defeating the pagan occupiers, Judah Maccabee found only one jar of temple oil to light the menorah. One jar would have lasted only one day but through God’s miracle, the menorah stayed lit for seven days. The menorah is lit every day during Hanukah, which is a week-long celebration that includes festive dishes, prayers and gift-giving.
As a devout Jew, Jesus celebrated Hanukah, as is mentioned in John 10:22-25: “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”
Jesus celebrated the feast of dedication or Hanukah so it is only fitting that the church gives us the season of Advent (coming) as we prepare for the birth of Jesus, who is the light of the world. Advent is four weeks long and each week represents the four themes of hope, peace, love and joy. The four candles on the wreath are three purple candles and one rose-colored candle.
The first week’s candle represents the hope we have in Jesus. The second week’s candle represents the peace we find in Jesus. The third week’s candle is the love we have in Christ and the fourth candle is the joy we find in Christ. Some Advent wreaths have a fifth candle located at the center of the wreath for the birth of Christ who is the light of the world.
The second temple was destroyed and never rebuilt, but Saint Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” which is why Jesus called us to be “the light of the world” and to “Let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Advent is the season that reminds us of what Christ called us to be — “a bright and shining light” in this world. I think sometimes we forget that God is the king of the universe and all is in his loving hands. We are constantly bombarded with negativity as the evil one is trying hard to break our relationship with our heavenly father. But NOTHING can separate us from his love.
Even when we sin, God still loves us. He doesn’t like the sin, but he does not stop loving his children. We may forget who we are and who our father in heaven is, but he never forgets us and he is constantly in pursuit of our love. So, get your Advent wreath out, light a candle each week as you prepare for the most miraculous time in human history: the birth of our savior, Jesus.
Turn your heart to God and remember that you belong to the most powerful, mighty God who created the entire universe and he is madly in love with you. Let your light shine bright so that all may give glory to God.
(Autourina Mains is a cradle Catholic who was born and raised in the Middle East. She is an Assyrian and speaks the ancient Aramaic language, which was used to write the first five books of the Bible.)