During Advent, many churches display an wreath with five candles. A fresh one is lit in each week of Advent and the final one is lit on Christmas Day. That is pretty straightforward. I wouldn’t be surprised if the practice has gone on for centuries and it certainly runs into decades in just my personal experience.
Online services, if they are of the pre-recorded variety that my church has opted for, create a new wrinkle. We use our Tuesday morning service as the basis for the following online Sunday video. Generally, that works well. I don’t think people are particularly bothered by getting the collect and lectionary readings for the following Sunday. When it goes to plan like today (more or less – I did have to get Jane to whiz over with the camera I’d left at home for the first time!) I’m partway through uploading to YouTube by this time in the afternoon and I’ve got a good safety margin when there are technical challenges to surmount.
What about the candles? As we’re only just into the second week of Advent, I think our Tuesday congregation would notice if we lit three candles. Even if they wouldn’t mind, it’s an extra task on the filming side and we’d be left with a used candle where there should be a pristine one for the larger, live Sunday service.
My solution this year has been to use virtual candles. More strictly, I’m using a video I produced of one candle with some colour filtering and video editing to create a sequence. Each week, I set the previous slots to show the candles a little lower (verisimilitude is us) and ‘light’ the next one along. It’s a nice effect for the intro sequence for each service in the series although, with three candles set going this week, it also makes me aware of how the month is dripping away like candle wax!
Anyway, here is last week’s video to give you the idea: