The third candle of Advent, commonly referred to as the Joy candle references the role the Shepherds played in the Christmas story. We’ll spend the rest of this week’s devotionals on the role of the Shepherds in the Christmas story, but today I want to talk about why the third candle is pink.
Like we said in the video on Sunday (Click to watch the video), the candle isn’t pink because the doctor misread the ultrasound. The candle is pink because historically, the color pink represents joy. That is, within the church. Of course, when we think of pink and babies, we tend to think of girls. And I usually remember that episode of the office where Hannah dressed her baby boy in pink and got offended when people assumed she was a girl.
The third candle is pink to remind us that there is joy in the journey. For us, the month leading up to Christmas goes by pretty fast because we’re so busy. But imagine a time without electricity, technology or cars. The winter months could be long and dreary. And as you approach the darkest time of the year, even the month-long journey of Advent could seem like it was droning on without end. Is there any hope that this journey will come to an end?
Throughout church history, different colors have been used to signify different themes. Purple was a color of royalty and in the church represents anticipation, expectation and hope. White and gold were used during Christmas and Easter to symbolize purity, joy and truth as well as celebration and triumph. Green was used for ordinary time, the times between significant holidays. Red would represent Holy week and the blood of Christ and the martyrs.
Okay, so why all this talk about colors and meaning? Well, just like so many things, the deeper significance and meaning that used to be well-known has been undermined by pop-culture. Do we allow richness and depth of our faith to be subverted by an overwhelming popular meaning or can we still find our roots in a society that is seeking to deconstruct everything? This isn’t just true for the color pink, it’s true for Advent, for church, for the rainbow and nearly every element of our faith.
Finding joy in the journey is so crucial to persevering. Once again it comes back to where our focus is. Who/what do we allow to define reality for us. Christmas is about that as much as it is about anything. God had defined reality, but God did much more than that. He became reality. The truth became flesh. Another concept society would like to do away with. Jesus was a good guy, but He wasn’t God.
So, it turns out the pink candle is pretty important. As are the purple candles and the white candle. As is communion, as is fellowship, as is Scripture, as is our faith. I don’t have a problem with pink being associated with little girls clothing. But we also shouldn’t have a problem with pink being associated with Jesus and our journey as followers of Him.
Because there is joy in the journey. Jesus’ birth doesn’t just secure our salvation but it brings God’s redemption into this life as well. And the more of His life and reality I embrace, the more I enjoy the life I was designed for. The more of societies “reality” I embrace the less I joy I find.
So, embrace the pink candle. That’s where the Joy is.