For those who are keeping up with this Advent Blog, you may have noticed that I waited to post the Second and Third Sunday's of Advent together. Last Sunday, December 9th, was the second Sunday of Advent. Last Sunday we lit our second purple candle on the Advent wreath, the candle known as the Bethlehem candle that symbolizes Love. This candle is a very important one, for it is meant to remind us of the difficult journey Joseph and Mary made to Bethlehem to conceive baby Jesus. When I re-read the scripture that notes their journey to Bethlehem and thought about the descriptive story from my childhood, I was able to look at it from a more in depth perspective. Mary and Joseph completely put their lives in God's hands. Joseph and Mary gave up their hearts, minds, and souls to fulfill God's plan; not to mention Mary allowed her body to be used to conceive the Messiah. If Joseph and Mary's commitment and love for each other and God wasn't great enough, the pure and immense love they had for their soon-to-be son was immeasurable. I don't know that I've ever really looked into how far they traveled to get to Bethlehem to ensure that's where Jesus was born. Breaking it down to the simplest of terms, they journeyed 160 kilometers (approximately 99 miles) through desert valley's, rocky hillsides, and oliver groves. Imagine loving your future child and God so much that you were willing to make such a journey in the final stages of pregnancy...I certainly am impressed to say the least, and what a beautiful love it is that Joseph and Mary shared for Jesus before He was even born. After lighting this second candle on the Advent wreath, I hope you all made/make a conscious effort to hold your loved ones close and to tell them how much you love them, especially during this Christmas season, but all the time as well.
Today, December 16th, we light our third candle on the Advent wreath, the rose candle. This candle is known as the Shepherd's candle and symbolizes Joy. The rose color for this Sunday's candle is significant because rose is the liturgical color that symbolizes Joy. In my church, our Pastor always picks a family at his masses to come up and light the Advent candles, which I think is a really beautiful and special way for families to come together to celebrate the Advent season. This third candle made me look more in depth about how the Shepherd's play a significant part in the nativity. In scripture it details how, like Mary and Joseph, an angel appeared to them, and expressed the Great News that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. The Shepherd's, although probably confused and in shock, could not deny their need to go see this newborn Messiah for themselves. They set out with their flock of sheep to find baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger just as the angel had told them. Imagine their excitement and pure joy in this moment. Especially since in that time shepherd's were looked at as lowly and insignificant people, the fact that they were some of the first people to pay homage to Jesus just after his birth was a great honor. As we light this third Advent candle, let us all remember the rejoicing that comes with this Christmas season. Rejoice and give thanks for the blessings and people that have filled your life with joy.