“to give them a garland instead of ashes”
The wreaths in our homes at Advent and Christmas are often only decorative—pretty. But there’s an ancient Nordic and Celtic tradition of making wreaths from wagon wheels. When the sun disappeared in winter, these sun-worshipping people had a beautiful way of wooing it, beckoning back light and hope. As the days grew darker, colder, they took the wheels off their wagons and brought them inside to protect them from the elements.
But more than that, they decorated the wheels with evergreen boughs to remind them of the hope of spring, even in the darkest days. Then they hung the festooned wagon wheels on their walls. Instead of fighting winter, hoping just to “get through it,” they recognized that this season was calling them to stop their normal farm work—wheels off! It was time to stay close to home, close to the hearth, close to one another.
This Advent, what wheels could you take off? How about the right front tire of the family car? Imagine your Honda’s front tire wreathed in green, hanging on your wall. Too much? Try your bicycle tire. Imagine your ipad all in evergreen hanging above the mantle.
Advent is a time to be still. As our ancestors wooed back the sun, so we hang up our wheels and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Prayer: Let our Advent and Christmas wreaths be more than decorations, Lord; let them be signs of our willingness to wait, and of the evergreen promise of your soon coming. Amen.
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