The word “advent,” from Latin, means “the coming.” It is a time of spiritual reflection as well as cheer and anticipation. An Advent wreath is made from greens to symbolize continuous life and contains four candles— three blue (to symbolize expectation) or purple (to symbolize repentance) and one rose (to symbolize joy). We light the Advent wreath in church on the four Sundays of Advent and Christmas Eve. The lighting of an Advent wreath in the home is a wonderful practice and reminder of the focus of the Advent Season. All you need are three blue or purple candles, one rose candle, and one white candle.

Here is a short description and devotional order that can be used for lighting an Advent wreath in your homes on each Sunday of Advent (December 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd).

Additionally, if you begin on December 1st and read one chapter of Luke’s Gospel each day, by Christmas Eve you will have read all of Luke and will have seen the complete story of why the Christ Child came. You could light the candles for this as well.

First Sunday of Advent: Hope
Light one blue (or purple) candle to symbolize Hope
Prayer
Read Isaiah 60:1-3; Romans 5:12; Matthew 12:15-21
Extinguish the flame

Second Sunday: Peace
Light two blue (or purple) candles – Hope and Peace
Prayer
Read Isaiah 9:1-7 and Romans 5:1-11
Extinguish the flames

Third Sunday: Joy
Light two blue (or purple) candles (Hope and Peace) and one rose candle to symbolize Joy
Prayer
Read Psalm 65 and Isaiah 35
Extinguish the flames

Fourth Sunday: Love
light all four candles – Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love
Prayer
Read Micah 7:18-20 and Galatians 4:1-7
Extinguish the flames

Christmas Eve
Light all four candles and add the fifth white candle to the center (the light of Christ)
Prayer
Read Luke 1:57-79 and Luke 2:1-20
Keep the candles lit a bit longer, or safely throughout the evening.

The Advent Wreath

First Candle: This is the “Hope” candle.  It symbolizes the great hope that is ours in the Christ. In this hope, the Old Testament prophets and believers looked ahead to His coming. In this hope, we prepare to celebrate His birth and we look ahead to His return. This candle is often blue to represent the eager expectation of Advent or purple to represent the repentance of the season as we prepare for Christ’s comings.

Second Candle: This is the “Peace” candle. It symbolizes the great peace that is ours in the Christ. He came to reconcile us to God; we are at peace with God through Him. The night of His birth at Bethlehem is a night of peace and we are people of peace through this Christ Child. This candle is often blue to represent the eager expectation of Advent or purple to represent the repentance of the season as we prepare for Christ’s comings.

Third Candle: This is the “Joy” candle. It symbolizes the great joy that is ours in the Christ. He came to give us joy in the forgiveness of our sins; He came to give us the joys of eternal life. All of creation will rejoice when He returns and sets all things right. This candle is often a rose color to represent joy.

Fourth Candle: This is the “Love” candle. It symbolizes the great love of the Father in sending His Son to take on human flesh for us and the great love of in Christ in coming for us. In love, Christ continues to come to us in Word and Sacrament and makes His home in our hearts. This candle is often blue to represent the eager expectation of Advent or purple to represent the repentance of the season as we prepare for Christ’s comings.

Christ Candle: This is the “Christ” candle. It symbolizes Christ the Light of the World. All good things are fulfilled in Jesus. This candle is added Christmas Eve and is white to represent the holiness of the Christ Child.