... in the Advent wreath
Every year since I can remember we have taken our Advent wreath out from storage and gone through the laborious process of hanging it up, for ours is a substantial wreath which was made by hand some thirty or more years ago, which hangs on a chain and nylon threads. It has had new candles added, and other repairs have been made. Decorations were added too, to make it more festive, and small labels with calligraphy give each week a theme. There are coloured ribbons hanging down from it. The wreath to me is symbolic of more than just the coming of Christmas.
As a family we would gather, usually on a Saturday evening, to pray together. A short reading from the Sunday readings would be read by one of us. We would take it in turns, because there were four children. We would also take it in turns to be the one to light the candle. We would usually sing a song if one of us was there to pay the piano or we would sometimes listen to some music instead.
We also had a 'Jesse tree' which was a dead, bare tree found in the woods with no leaves, and this would be decorated each week with a set of cardboard discs decorated with themes from the Bible and pictures, drawn by my grandmother, who was a retired schoolteacher. When Christmas came we would decorate the tree with conventional decorations, and tinsel. Only in more recent years did my parents buy a 'normal', green Christmas tree.
I don't have a family of my own yet and I am not able to be with the rest of my family every Sunday in Advent. I don't have a wreath of my own either, but each week in Advent my father lights the candle and sends me a picture to remind me of this tradition. It also reminds me of the love of my family.
I know that for others candles have different meanings: perhaps for birthdays or romantic dinners. For me lighting a candle has three meanings: 1, a prayer intention for someone (whether dead or alive), 2, to reflect on the coming of Christ in Advent and Christmas 3, to symbolise the life of Christ, his death and resurrection at Easter.
So this Advent although I don't have a wreath of my own I will light candles and think of Christ and the light He brings.