This year is very different for us in our celebration of the church year. For one thing the children are older now and able to ask questions and to participate in the celebrations. For another we’ve moved and changed churches and so our celebration and the church’s celebration are more aligned and the what the children hear at home is reinforced by what they hear and see at church and vice versa.
On the first Sunday of Advent we made an Advent Wreath at church and brought it home to light on Sundays and other feast days. We have discussed with the children the meanings of the candles and whenever we light it ask them to tell us what we have discussed before.
The first candle is purple and represents the hope that Christ will come, both the Old Testament hope of his birth and the New Testament hope of his return.? We have talked about what hope is by relating it to what they feel like when they wake up in the morning and know that a friend is coming over in the afternoon.
The second candle is also purple and represents the preparation that we make for the coming of Christ.? We have talked about preparing our hearts and also about preparing for company by making everything tidy and nice and cooking our best dishes. They have gotten into this and now talk about cleaning up the house in the afternoon to “prepare for Papa to come home”.
This week is the third candle which is pink (Su is very excited as this is her favorite color at the moment) and it represents Joy. We will probably talk about the healing of the world and the things we can experience that give us joy.
The fourth candle is purple again and stands for love, both the love of God for us and our love as we reflect him to others and the world around us.
Finally on Christmas Day we will light the center candle, which is white. It represents Christ and we will talk about how he is the center and how from him come all of the graces represented by the other four candles.
I don’t know how much of this will stick with them until next year but we will repeat it and a little more will stick each time.? They understand a surprising amount and are able to relate our wreath to the one at church and to remember from Sunday to Sunday what we talked about and even relate that to other things we do.
I am amazed by what they understand and how much anticipation there is for the celebration that we are building toward.