At the beginning of worship service during Advent, we light candles. Have you wondered why we do that? Or have you focused on its beauty and symbolism it provided?
While many of our Christian traditions have their roots in Northern Europe, celebrations with candles and lights are the longest standing Christmas traditions. In his Gospel, John says, “In him was life and the life was the light of all people.” From the early days, light, and once the church became formalized, a white candle represented Jesus. Over time, as the season of Advent became a liturgical season, lighting a candle on each Sunday in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah grew in popularity. Even in churches that deemphasize liturgy, Advent candles are often included.
The question then becomes, why does the candle on the Third Sunday have a different color? We use purple candles for three Sundays, but on one of them, we use a pink candle. I personally never thought about it until I had to plan out Advent candles, and at the first church I served at, I made the mistake of putting out all the same colors. A Deacon pointed it out to me, with way too much glee I want to note, of my error and saved me from a major embarrassment.
On the third Sunday of Advent, we light a pink candle, and the theme is Joy. It is in recognition that four weeks of waiting can feel long, and we can tire in anticipation. A pink candle reminds us that we do not have much longer to wait, but what we are waiting for is just around the corner. In the midst of dark, dreary winter days, we can rejoice to know that in only one more week of waiting, we will light the Jesus candle on Christmas Eve.
This Sunday, we will light the pink candle to remind us that we only have one more week to wait for the coming of the Messiah, the hope of the nations. Let us be the people of joy during this season, even in the midst of a pandemic, and be the people of God to our neighbors and friends. In all that we do and say, let us remind people of the joy we all share in the coming of Jesus.