A Christmas Idea from Germany
By Ditmar and Elizabeth Mittelstaedt
The tradition of the Advent wreath is quite young, compared to some other German traditions. Johann Hinrich Wichern, a theologian, invented it in 1839. He took care of some children who were living in great poverty and moved with them into an old farmhouse. At Christmastime the children kept asking him, "How long is it until Christmas?" So he built a wooden wreath made of an old cartwheel and put 19 little candles and four big candles on top of it. Every day during the Christmas season he lit another little candle, and on Sunday, a big one. Today's Advent wreath with four candles is one of Germany's most popular Christmas traditions.
The first candle signifies Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
The second candle symbolizes the second coming of the Lord.
The third candle reminds us of John the Baptist.
The fourth candle "sheds light" on the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
We're wondering how many more times we'll light the second candle until Jesus' return? Seeing signs of His soon return doesn't make us slow down; rather it puts a fire in our hearts.
In whatever time of history we light our second candle of the Adventskranz - it reminds us that Jesus will return. He opened our eyes to this world of grace and commands us to pay attention. We don't need to hold on to our things or panic - rather we should open our lives in praise to Christ who is with us and anticipate the time when we will see Him coming in the clouds in all His power and glory.
Ditmar and Elizabeth Mittelstaedt are AGWM missionaries to Europe and publish Lydia Magazine.
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