Reflections for Sunday, December 8 -- The Second Sunday of Advent
By: Judy Morss
For those of you who keep the tradition of the Advent Wreath, we light the second candle today. Candles one, two and four are purple in color. The first candle which we lit last Sunday is called the prophet's candle and it symbolizes hope. We think of Isaiah, the Prophet, who foresaw the coming of our Messiah. The second candle is known as the Bethlehem candle and it symbolizes faith and preparation as we prepare for the coming of Jesus. The third candle is pink/rose in color and is lit on Gaudete Sunday. The priest wears rose colored vestments; my priest laughingly tells us that he is "pretty in pink." This candle is called the shepherd's candle and symbolizes the joy that was proclaimed by the angels when Jesus was born. The fourth candle is called the angel's candle and symbolizes peace and love when Jesus came to earth. Some churches and families add a fifth candle, a white candle. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve and is known as Christ's candle. The Advent Wreath can be a wonderful symbol of our Advent journey as we move closer and closer to the beautiful gift from God, the birth of our Savior.
Today's gospel is taken from Mathew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism,
he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Advent indeed is a time of waiting, of hope and of preparation. Just as John the Baptist, we are crying out in the desert. We are looking and longing for something. Often we don't know what we are looking for; we just know that we have a hole that cries out to be filled. The Baptist reminds us that we need to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God -- Christ himself. We should be focused on "making straight His paths." We often wander about in the darkness or in dim light, not sure where we are going or what we have as our objective. It is so easy to get involved in the preparation of Christmas and lose sight of the wonder that is before us. In order to straighten my path, I need to ask God for forgiveness and hope. If I focus on the holiday instead of the Holy Day, then I wait for Christ in vain. When I spend more quiet time with Him, I begin to see in the birth of Jesus what He really means in my life and what He gives me. Through His love, my life can bloom and flourish. I can indeed make a straight path for Him to enter directly into my heart. May the season of Advent draw you closer and closer to our Savior and as you light another candle each week, may your straight path become brighter and brighter.
With peace and love,