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What does an advent wreath have to do with missions?

What does an advent wreath have to do with missions?

Sara Marie Moore | Dec 4, 2014

 

Sometimes spirituality is more simple than the gymnastics of religious symbolism we create inside our church buildings.

  The advent wreath: pretty simple in concept. And something we’ve made more complicated than it was meant to be. The purple candle means this. The pink candle means this. And don’t forget the white candle in the middle has to be white because…. In the 19th century it was more simple. It all started with children, of course. Poor children at an urban mission school in Germany. They couldn’t wait for Christmas, the celebration of the reason they were in a safe place. They asked every day if it was Christmas yet. Founder of the school, pastor and urban missionary Johann Hinnrich Wichen, had to do something. He placed four large white candles and 20 smaller red candles on a wooden cartwheel ring. Every day until Christmas an additional candle would be lit. The large ones were lit on Sundays. That was it. Poor children in need of Jesus wanted to know when his birthday would arrive. Of course, we all need Jesus so the custom spread across Europe and to the US. The wreath was simplified to four candles to be lit on Sundays in church. So when you light the candles this year, remember we are all children in need excitedly awaiting the birthday of the one who rescued us. Don’t worry too much about what each candle means. It just means we’ve been rescued out of the slums of sin. Our God did really come for us. And he’s coming again. I am indebted to Dr. Mary Jane Haemig, professor of church history at  Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., for historical research on the advent wreath.  

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