Kevin and I are hosting our friends this weekend for a little ski adventure. At dinner tonight, as I lit the second Advent candle, I started to sing, "Sunrise, Sunset" from the musical, "Fiddler on the Roof". It was kind of a funny moment, before we said the blessing before meals. It made me think of the connection between Advent and Shabbat...the Jewish day of rest or 'seventh day' in the week.
I think it was the lighting of the candle and the blessing before the meal that really hit me- where did we get the tradition of lighting a candle before our meal during Advent? I know it's been a tradition for the four weeks before Christmas- but why a candle? I know that the pink candle represents 'joy' ...from the antiphon on the third Sunday of Advent, which begins with the word, "Rejoice"...but why do we light a candle? And is it somehow related to the tradition of the Jewish people of lighting the candles.
In the Jewish home, it is the tradition that a woman lights the candles before the day of rest begins. The woman is the foundation of the home and the one who brings peace and harmony to the home. The candles are very significant, because they not only bring light, and warmth, but represent fire. Fire is a metaphor for God's relationship with man- the flame is a single entity, yet it appears to undergo a constant change. The flame adheres to, relies on and appears to emanate from the candle, yet it is a distinct and separate entity. The interior of the flame is constant, but the exterior is always in motion and constantly changes color. It represents light in our dark world.
I thought about this and realized that this is exactly what Advent is all about. Today's readings reflect this perfectly..."A voice cries out in the desert- prepare the way of the Lord" . In Advent, we are waiting for the coming of Christ...as the babe in the manger, but also when he comes again.
We keep hearing the theme over and over again in Advent- a light shining in the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. No wonder we light candles to mark the time until we celebrate His birth!
I hope that as I light the candles each week, I remember that I am called to bring harmony and peace to my home...and that I am lighting the candles as a reminder that God's relationship with us is always the same and always new...and that Jesus is the Light of the World.