"And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.' May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Country in Focus: Germany
Tradition: Advent Wreath
Activity: Make an Advent Wreath!
Materials:1 flat styrofoam disk, silk greenery to cover wreath, ribbon, 3 purple candles, 1 pink candle, 1 white candle, and glue. Anything else you may want to decorate your wreath with such as pine cones, pearls, etc.
Glue the ribbon to the outer edge of the disk. Push the white candle into the center of the disk. Push the other candles into the disk. Make sure that they are evenly spaced and that you leave enough of an edge to be able to decorate your wreath with greenery. You may want to put a little glue on the inside of each candle hole. Push greens into disk to cover stryofoam. Add your finishing touches.
For the first day of advent, make an advent wreath with your children.
Advent wreaths are used to help us spiritually prepare for Christmas. The advent wreath originated in the Middle Ages. There is some evidence that it was used in Pre-Christian Germanic traditions. This is not unusual of Christmas traditions. The Church adapted many pagan traditions into Christian celebrations. It certainly does not take away from the lessons that we can teach with them.
The advent wreath has changed over time. Although by the 1600's, both Catholics and Lutherans had traditions involving the advent wreath, the modern advent wreath was developed in 1839 by Johann Hinrich Wichern. The tradition didn't spread beyond Germany until after the 1930's, but today it can be found around the world.
You can make your advent wreath two ways. Wichern made his wreath with 19 small red candles and 4 tall white candles. Each day a red candle was lit. White candles were lit on Sunday. The modern version calls for 3 purple candles, 1 pink candle, and one white candle. During the month of Advent, you will light a new candle each Sunday. The pink candle is lit on the 3rd Sunday.
The first Sunday, today, is the "Candle of Hope" (purple). The second Sunday is the "Candle of Love" (purple). The third Sunday is the "Candle of Joy" (pink). The fourth Sunday is the "Candle of Peace" (purple). The white candle is lit on Christmas Day. It is called the "Christ Candle."
As you light today's candle, you can say a prayer or sing a hymn together. There is no set form that you have to use. An example for a prayer you can say is...
"Father, we light this candle to thank you for your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. We give you thanks and praise in Jesus' name, because he lives and reigns with you in your glory, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Amen."