Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

December 3, 2016 | Advent, faith, family

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls.

This is a season that asks us to be patient, to bask in the waiting even as the rest of the world rushes us to deck the halls and play Christmas music. This is a season that asks us to hold things in tension—birth and death, Christ’s arrival in a manger and Christ’s second coming—even as the rest of the world urges us to focus on buying gifts and accumulating things.

The Advent wreath serves as a visible sign of God’s impending arrival, a growing glow and sense of anticipation as we prepare to celebrate again, as if for the first time, God’s willingness to break into our world and live among us as one of us. Light beyond all bounds. Light that never goes out. Light that burns within each one of us.

Each time you light the candles on your Advent wreath this season—day by day, week by week—may it be a reminder to step outside the frenetic pace of the world and set your life to a slower rhythm, a sacred cadence that gives you room to breathe in God’s goodness, to revel in the waiting, to look into the darkness all around you and find the Light that can never be extinguished.

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