Few things get church folks more riled up than a conversation about what color candles to use in the Advent wreath. All purple, all white, all blue, all red, three blue and one pink, three purple and one pink, or some other color combination thereof.
And that's even before the discussion over whether or not to add a white Christ Candle in the middle on Christmas Eve.
I know of one cleric who was even accused of "ruining Advent" for using the "wrong" color of candles one year.
And let's not get started on those liturgical factions crusading for either blue or purple vestments and altar hangings during Advent. I'm not even going to touch that holy war.
Of course this is all very high on Jesus' list -- when he returns to judge the world at the Second Coming, all will surely be revealed.
But back to the issue at hand: the pink candle. In my parish, we use three purple candles with a pink candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. This is the traditional practice in most, but by no means all, liturgical churches. We don’t do this for aesthetics — we’re not trying to add an "accent" candle. No, that third candle is pink (or technically rose-colored) because it’s Gaudete Sunday.
Okay, let me back up and do some explaining here. First of all, we refer to the Third Sunday
of Advent as Gaudete Sunday (pronounced gow-day-tay) because the introit for the mass in Latin begins “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete” meaning “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice.”
While much of the penitential nature of the season has been lost in favor of hopeful expectation, some of the readings still do sound this note -- something retained in the seasonal collects (which my archenemesis, Scott Gunn, once memorably blogged about). The Third Sunday has traditionally been a respite from the penitential themes of Advent emphasizing instead the joy of the coming of the Lord.