What's up with the pink candle?
The kids of our congregation are very observant. When they come for worship, they make note if anything has changed in the sanctuary. So, of course, Advent has all kinds of fodder for conversation. And the most common question is, Why is there one pink candle? I reckon the kids aren't the only ones who've wondered this.
Here's the scoop.
When the season of Advent first emerged around 500 A.D., it had a penitential character not unlike Lent. When the liturgical color for Advent was violet this connection between that two seasons was all the more apparent.
The focus for Advent was as much (or more) on Christ's second coming as His first—and our preparation for that coming. Thus, Christians would fast and make other sacrifices; again, this is akin to our "giving something up" for Lent.
The 3rd Sunday in Advent is more or less the midpoint of the season; since the beginning of Advent moves from year-to-year, the actual midpoint varies. As such, the 3rd Sunday was regarded as a kind of "halftime."
We've turned the corner toward Christmas. For a day, fasts were lifted, and the spirt of joy suffused the worship—sort of a foretaste of the joy to come.
The Rejoicing Sunday
Not coincidentally, the traditional name for the Sunday is "Gaudete," a Latin word meaning "Rejoice!" Like other Sundays in Advent, Lent, and Easter, Gaudete takes its name from the first word of the Introit in the liturgy; in this case, "Rejoice in the Lord!" (Philippians 4.4).
Traditionally, the Introit (which means "entrance") was the beginning of the service, and hence this was the first word heard in worship.
And thus we have the pink (technically "rose") colored candle. The touch of rose, like a flower in winter, hints at the full future blossom. But it also calls to mind the Christmas hymn, "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." This side of Jesus' resurrection, even in the midst of the dark seasons, everything is coming up roses.