Sunday, November 30, 2008


The season of advent is begun! I hope that we all find time over the next four weeks to rest our minds, prepare our hearts, and open to the joy of the Christmas season. I feel a desire to prepare myself, this year perhaps more than most.

Life gets so busy, and December can be a ridiculously over-scheduled month. But this year I plan to be deliberate and intentional about my commitments and my preparation for Christmas in more ways than just decorating, baking, and shopping.

I have advent questions for you. Does your church use purple or blue to mark the season? Is the pink candle for the third Sunday or the fourth? And what do your four candles represent?


Sarahlynn said...

I'll answer my own questions . . .

1) The church to which I belong is the first I've attended that uses blue rather than purple for Advent. I know that this is emerging as a color of choice to separate Advent and Easter, but it makes me uncomfortable because I feel like it conflates Advent and Christmas.

2) Third Sunday!

4) Again, the church to which I belong uses simple names for the candles: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. I grew up with candle names tied more explicitly to the story (Prophets, Mary & Joseph, Shepherds, and Magi, I believe). And, of course, the white candle in the center is the Christ candle.

Stushie said...

Hope, Faith, Peace (pink), and Love.

All purple, but we do light a Blue Xmas Candle on Xmas Eve.

Xmas instead of Christmas???

X goes back to the old secret sign Christians used in the catacombs.

Jody Harrington said...

I'm with you Sarahlynn. Not a fan of the blue candles for Advent. The church we previously attended changed from purple to blue but our current church sticks with the purple.

The color of the Advent candles had nothing to do with our changing churches!

In both cases, the blue/purple candle was used on the third Sunday and the candle names were the traditional ones.

Gannet Girl said...

On another topic -- for any of you, or anyone you know, who needs an Advent place this year in which to reflect on loss and sorrow during a time in which your feelings are completely out of sync with the population at large, I've started a new blog,just for Advent, here.

DennisS said...

Purple candles (current wreath is made of brass and was a memorial first used two years ago).

Pink candle the third week stands for joy.

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love.

I'm thinking the second week theme of "Peace" is the most difficult to preach. We may talk about peace, but the reality is that real peace comes quite difficult.

Mark Baker-Wright said...

Here's what I grew up with.

Three purple candles, one pink, white one in the center.

Candle 1: Prophecy
Candle 2: Bethlehem
Candle 3: Shepherds (or Visitors)
Candle 4 (Pink): Angels
Center Candle (White): Christ Candle

My personal bias--It actually kind of annoys me to see the odd-colored candle used in a non-4th Week. It kind of breaks up the pattern to go back to a purple candle afterward. No theological reason for this, just my own need for patterns....

Anonymous said...

My new church uses all purple candles, no pink, and yesterday at our Advent wreath making party, I made a comment about the lack of pink and was told pink was a Catholic thing, which I was pretty sure it wasn't exclusively...any thoughts?

Stushie said...

Emily, Advent candles are an Anglican thing. Scots-Irish Presbyterians frown on such English church practices...:)

Anyway, all the candles are really white with a wax like purple skin.

Next year, I'm making the First Advent candle Red to commemorate World AIDS Day; the second one will be purple to keep the traditionalists happy; the third will be Pink for Peace and Cancer Awareness; and the fourth will be blue for all of those who are sad, grieving, and lonely each Christmas.

John Shuck said...


I like that color-coded candle thing you worked out. It fights nicely with the longing for righteousness.

Stushie said...

Thanks, John. I drew a simple diagram of it, with the meanings attached, and placed it on my blog.
You can see it at:

Maybe we could work together on this and prepare a new liturgy in time for next year?

John Shuck said...

Maybe we could work together on this and prepare a new liturgy in time for next year?

That is a great idea! Now if we can only keep track of time to remember to do it for next year! Seriously, that would be fun!

Marci Glass said...

Pink did start out as a "Catholic thing". You can read more about it here on the PCUSA website:
The pink, or rose-colored, candle is an imitation of a Roman Catholic practice that is required only of churches in Rome itself. It hearkens back to a Lenten custom from the Middle Ages. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, the pope would give a golden rose to people he especially esteemed. Rose-colored paraments (hangings) decorated the churches for this occasion, which came to be thought of as a respite from the rigors of Lent. The first word of the introit for that day was laetare, “rejoice.”As Advent developed into a “little Lent,” the third Sunday of Advent mirrored this custom. It helped that the first word of the introit for that Sunday was gaudete, also “rejoice.” Hence, rose vestments and a pink candle.