- Advent wreath. Symbolizes eternity (circle) and strength (evergreen tree survives winter). Ps. 90:1-2, 1 Tim. 1:17, John 1:1-5. Tertullian (3rd c. A.D.) criticized because of the wreath's secular roots. (Then again, the Cross has Roman--crucifixion--roots, too.) Increasing lights through Advent--John 8:12ff. Three blue/purple candles = hope/penitence/royalty; one pink = based on gaudete ("rejoice"--Phil. 4:4-7) from 3rd-week Introit. One variation (not ours): prophet's candle = hope; Bethlehem candle = humility ("of the least of the tribes"); shepherds' candle = joy at the message; angels' candle = peace on earth!
- Christmas tree. German pagan roots--Boniface chopped down the Oak of Thor; a fir tree grew in the roots. Evergreen characteristics--life (eventually in heaven). John 5:24. Luther added lights/candles = Christ as the light of the world (John 8:12 again). Fundamentalist criticism is based on Jer. 10:1-5 (decorating trees FOR IDOLS with shiny stuff).
"This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre [sic] of your households. Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light. Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your Comfort and Guide."
Next week: The Twelve Days of Christmas; The Christmas Star.