Using the Lenten Triad

A familiar feature of Advent and Christmas worship both at home and in church is the Advent wreath. Each Sunday of Advent another candle is lit, culminating in the lighting of the Christ Candle on Christmas Day.

Less familiar to many is the Lenten triad—an adaptation of the Advent wreath that can also be incorporated into individual or family devotions or used in congregational worship.

Construct a Lenten triad by making a triangular base from wood or Styrofoam. Cover the base with purple or black fabric, or use paint to color it. Attach nails or candleholders to the base to hold two purple candles along each of the three sides. Position a white candle in the middle.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The color black symbolizes the ashes of death and our dying to self throughout the Lenten period. It culminates in the death of Christ on Good Friday, which also incorporates black.

The color purple is also used during Lent to signify repentance. Historically, Lent was a time of preparation for those who were to be baptized at the Easter Vigil service, so purple also signifies the spiritual introspection of this time.

The center candle is white, the color of purity, and represents Christ.

Use the Lenten triad as you would an Advent candle in worship or in individual or family devotions. On Ash Wednesday, light all the candles. On each of the following Sundays, snuff out one purple candle. On Palm/Passion Sunday, extinguish the final purple candle, leaving only the white Christ candle burning. On Good Friday, when we remember Christ’s death on the cross, extinguish the white candle, leaving darkness.

Either at the beginning of an Easter Vigil Service or on Easter morning, light the Christ candle to symbolize Christ’s resurrection.

Check your church library for recommended devotional books if you are using the Lenten triad with family devotions. You may also wish to follow the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings (reviewed in RW 81). Consider singing a simple song at the beginning or end of your family devotional time.



A Litany for Use with the Lenten Triad

At the beginning of the litany all the candles on the triad should be lit.

Sing: “Throughout These Lenten Days and Nights,” st. 1 SNC 129, WC 250

Christ, you are the light of the world.

The true light which enlightens everyone.

But we confess that at times we try to hide the light within us. Sometimes we don’t stand up for what is right, and sometimes we knowingly do wrong.

Forgive us for the times we don’t let your light shine through us.

We confess too that sometimes we try to keep others from being witnesses to your light. We make fun of them for being good and encourage them to blend in with the world.

Forgive us for the times we keep others from being witnesses.

[Extinguish the appropriate number of candles for the week you are in.]

Christ, in this dark world help us to shine your light everywhere we go.

Help us to be witnesses for you,

so that through all our actions we proclaim:

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

Sing: “This Little Light of Mine” SWM 245


Song Ideas for Family Devotions

  • “Throughout These Lenten Days and Nights” st. 1, SNC 129, WR 250 ( RW 58)
  • · “Holy God” (SNC 139)
  • “There Is a Redeemer,” st. 1, CH 308, SNC 145, SWM 128, WC 117
Reformed Worship 82 © December 2006, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.