Monday, December 10, 2012

#Unity Girl's Guide to #Advent: The Candle of Joy!

In honor of the third week of advent, we revisit the meaning behind the advent wreath. Specifically behind the candle we light this week. Why is there one pink candle?

I saw someone kidding around on twitter about this saying "Tomorrow's 3rd Sunday of Advent, when many churches light a pink candle. Know why? 'Cause God really wanted a girl! :)". Seriously though, the church actually does have a symbolic meaning that I think an be applied to our lives in a very practical way.

When the season of Advent was instituted (around 1840) the church viewed it as a mini-Lent, a time for reflection and repentance (thus the purple). In so doing, the church adopted the first four candles of Lent and changed the third candle of Advent to pink in honor of the Lenten tradition of feasting instead of fasting the 3rd week of Lent. This is why we have a pink candle in our Advent Wreaths.

So this is the week to rejoice! In the word rejoice we hear the word Joy, and that is the name some churches have given this week of advent. We light the Candle of Joy as we know the birth of Jesus is very near.

One of the great moments of Jesus' life is when he gave us very specific steps for attaining joy in our lives, the beatitudes. They are like rungs in a ladder that get us closer and closer to being a better reflection of perfect love, kindness and understanding.

1. Blessed are the poor in Spirit. Matt 5:3
Do you think you are perfect? Have done no wrong? Do you think you can do it all by yourself? Jesus' first step to JOY is admitting in our lives that we need God. That we are not alone and that we are One in spirit with our creator. The first step to JOY is knowing that we were created, and through the power of free will we have made choices that don't reflect God.

2. Blessed are they that mourn. Matt 5:4
This is interesting that it comes after an admittance that we cannot do this life on our own. Once we realize this there is a bit of mourning that occurs. We mourn the life we had as we turn to God, we mourn the choices that were made that did not honor God's love or kindness. The second step to Joy, is being sad about the way we used to live, before God was first in our hearts.

3. Blessed are the Meek Matt 5:5
I like this word because it is not what it seems. The root meaning actually comes from a concept similar to taming a wild horse, not so much a weakness of heart or mind. People who are considered meek are those who have been tamed by the love of God, who have had the power of their lives and passions bridled by the power of Kindness, Grace and Peace. God now rules our lives, directs our paths and leads us through life: JOY

4. Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst. Matt 5:6
This is probably my favorite! When was the last time you were starving? In today's society it is hard to imagine or even experience. But in the New Testament times, this was a real possibility for some. That if they didn't eat, they would die! This step to JOY I think is where most of us become a little complacent. Is our love, understanding and reflection of God in our lives and life-or-death thing? I remember watching "V for Vendetta" with Natalie Portman and seeing her go through torture for her beliefs, not even fearing death, because she knew in her heart what was right. After the exercise in the film, her character was able to live completely without fear. Allowing JOY to be a leading emotion. It is interesting to me to think about how many us us, or to be transparent, whether I, under the duress of death or execution would stand up for what we believe in. Interesting to consider.

So as we begin this week, we light the Candle of Joy. We think about these 4 steps to JOY and I invite you to look at ways that you can climb each rung in the ladder.

Take action:
Take a full inventory of the decisions you have made this past year. For it is those very decisions that have created the life you have. Where did you place God in these decisions? Spend some time in contemplation this week and remember that JOY comes from knowing who your God is and developing a relationship. Spend time in the silence of your mind, and listening to the whispers of your innate Divine nature.

Become like a little child: Our Advent Calendar today reminds us to create a Christmas treat (Cookies, Gingerbread house, fruit cake) and then enjoy it with friends and family. The key to this action is to share. :)


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If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Mother Teresa

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