We recently started the season of Advent – last Sunday, in fact. The season of Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year – the time that we celebrate the upcoming birth of Jesus and His entrance into the world as God in human form.
The first Sunday in Advent we lit the candle of hope, sometimes referred to as the Prophecy Candle. This coming Sunday, we will light the candle of peace, also referred to the as Bethlehem Candle, followed by the candle of joy, also called the Shepherd’s Candle and, finally, the 4th Sunday of Advent we will light the candle of love – the Angel’s Candle. On Christmas Eve, we will also light the Christ candle, signaling the arrival of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. It will be white in color!
You might notice that there are purple candles three of the Sundays and a pink candle on one of the Sundays. The third Advent candle, the candle of joy, is represented by the pink candle – the liturgical color for joy. The rest of the weeks are represented by purple candles.
So what are we to understand about this season of Advent? The first week, the week of hope, is designated as such by the foretelling of the prophecy of Isaiah that a Savior would be born and that He would be the hope of the world. Thus, it is called the Prophecy candle.
The second week, the candle of peace, represents the approaching birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – the Prince of Peace is on His way. The candle also recalls the trip of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. After many tribulations and trials, we are finally aware of a hopeful peace in the world.
The third week, the candle of joy, recalls the joy of anticipating the birth of Jesus and the joy of the shepherds in the fields as they wait for the Savior of the world. Remember, this is the week of the pink candle and is also referred to as the Shepherd’s candle!
The fourth Sunday of Advent brings us to the Angel’s candle – the final purple candle that reminds us of the love of Christ and the impending birth of our Savior. It is important to realize that both Advent and Lent are seasons of waiting with eager anticipation. They are seasons of the liturgical year that require us to spend time in prayer and thought about the upcoming events that include the actions of our Savior.
Advent announces the impending birth of Jesus – a sacrifice to enter earth as a fully human, yet fully God, child. God the Father didn’t have to send Jesus to us, but in His infinite wisdom and grace, sent His Son to represent a model of behavior for how we should act and treat one another with love.
Of course, Easter represents another sacrifice for our benefit. It is a season of waiting as well – the death and ultimate resurrection of our Savior after He took on the sin of all people. This became the way back for us – the eternal forgiveness of sins allowing us to spend eternity with God.
As we conclude the first week of Advent, our verse for tonight is one of the readings that are popular as the candle of Hope is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. The prophet Isaiah tells us, in Isaiah 2:4, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Clearly, Isaiah was sending us a message of hope for the future in the person of Jesus.
My encouragement this evening is that we should want to anticipate and celebrate the coming announcement of Jesus. My prayer is that we will make a place in our hearts for Jesus and that we will bask in the hope of the world who is soon to be among us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…