Since our church does not follow any liturgical calendar, I almost invariably forget the first Sunday in Advent. I usually don’t think of it until the month switches to December, and then it’s too late. So what we have often done is light the first candle on the second Sunday in Advent, and then fudge things to light the fourth candle on Christmas Eve.
This year, I faithfully remembered the first Sunday, but the busy activities of the second weekend (a birthday party on Saturday, an AIDS event on Sunday) drove the candles from my mind. Then high school and junior high activities kept us from eating together with enough time to pause, until Wednesday night. Ah well. I think the important thing is to do it, and to learn from it together.
I try quoting Monty Python: “We can build a bridge out of him!”
Our oldest son is put out because he is called back to the table after he excused himself. (I forget until I write this that he is currently facing a heavy school load.) So I set the lighter before him and ask him to light the candles. He is still moody, but I figure you can’t go wrong with boys and fire.
The first candle is lit. My wife asks the kids, “What does the first candle stand for?”
“The light of the world,” the girls say.
The boy then lights the second candle. I ask our youngest, “And what does two candles mean?”
“I know this one! It’s ‘the bridge.’ That’s the only I remember,” she replies.
“But what does the bridge mean?”
“Uh. I don’t know.”
My wife turns to our middle child. “What is the bridge?” she asks her.
“The bridge between God and people,” she answers.
“Right, Jesus is the bridge between God and people,” my wife affirms. But she continues, “What else does ‘the bridge’ mean?”
“A… bridge between heaven and earth?”
My wife presses a bit. “What about us?”
“What do you mean?” our middle child asks.
“It’s like this,” I explain. “Jesus is the bridge between God and people.” I try quoting Monty Python to engage our son: “We can build a bridge out of him!”
“You got the quote wrong. It’s ‘build a bridge out of her,'” he quips in teenage form.
I continue, “Jesus is the bridge. But then he sends us out to do the same thing, to be a bridge between God and people. It’s like we are stones, and he is building us into something.
“What are some good scriptures for this?” I ask. “For the Jesus part, at least.”
“John 3:16?” our middle child offers.
“That’s good, but how about John 3:17?”
“What’s John 3:17?” the children ask.
As my wife looks it up on her iPhone Bible app, she asks me, “Do you know it? Can you quote it?”
“God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it,” I say (though not that precisely).
“What about the second part, about us?” I ask. “How about, ‘We are Christ’s ambassadors’?”
“It says that in the Bible?”
“Sure, Paul says it,” I say, stalling, trying to remember where. Corinthians?
This time my wife beats me to the punch with her Bible app. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God,” she reads.
But now our son is playing with the lighter, moving the flame along the side of the second candle. OK, you can go wrong with boys and fire. “I think we’re done,” I say, and conclude with a short prayer.
Advent Candle Meaning series: