The Advent Wreath
Most churches have at the heart of their worship an Advent wreath. The origins of the evergreen wreath are ancient and probably pagan, but there is a symbolism with the wreath and its five candles that is useful in retelling the Christmas story.
The circle of greenery reminds us that God is eternal, the Alpha and Omega without beginning or end, and also of the hope we have in God, of newness, renewal and eternal life.
The candles symbolise the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus, and the four outer candles represent a period of waiting, perhaps the four centuries between the prophet Malachi (the last book in the Old Testament) and the birth of Jesus. Whilst the light from the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our it also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's love and grace to others.
The centre candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Day where there is a service on these days.