What’s the deal with the “pink” candle?

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This Sunday, when we light the third candle of our Advent wreath, you will notice that it isn’t a purple/violet candle like the others. It is pink, though liturgically speaking we are to call it “rose.”  What is the symbolism or purpose of the rose candle on the Third Sunday of Advent?

The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday,taken from the Latin word gaudete, which is translated as “rejoice.” The Epistle lesson assigned for this Sunday is taken from the 4th chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which reads,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone.” Phil. 4:4

As we draw nearer to the coming of Christ, the penitential themes we have been exposed to in the Advent readings and Collects are balanced this week with themes of rejoicing and joy.  Along with the Epistle lesson, the readings from Zephaniah and Isaiah (Canticle 9) emphasize gratitude and joy at who the Lord is, what the Lord has done, and what the Lord promises to do.
This time of year can actually be a difficult time to feel gratitude and joy, particularly if the holidays stir up grief, anxiety, or complex family dynamics. Our liturgical tradition urges us to wade through the complexities of our lives – to recognize our need for repentance and wholeness while also embracing gratitude and joy. This is the good, hard work that Christian tradition and community calls us to do. Let us rejoice, and be glad in it!

See you Sunday!
Richard+

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