Friday, November 27, 2015

Celebrating the Birth of Christ with an Advent Wreath

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Many churches observe Advent on the four Sundays before Christmas. This is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Advent means “coming.” The Latin word “adventus” is a translation of the Greek word in Scripture “parousia.” Both mean “coming.” Advent celebrates the coming of Christ as a babe in Bethlehem and also anticipates the second coming of Christ. In many churches Advent is observed by lighting a wreath of five candles.

The Advent wreath is a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The evergreen wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of eternal life. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles mark the four Sundays of Advent. They also symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

The 1st candle is traditionally the Candle of Hope or the Candle of the Prophets. This candle anticipates the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah who weaves his way through Old Testament prophesies. For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The 2nd candle is called the Candle of Love or the Bethlehem Candle. “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NCV

The 3rd candle, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and is called the Candle of Joy or the Shepherds Candle. “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2: 9-12

The 4th candle is the Candle of Peace or the Angels Candle. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

The 5th candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve after the other four candles are lit. It symbolizes the Holiness of Christ. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

Our first experience of the Advent wreath with marvelous Christmas hymns and music by the choir touched us. For four weeks prior to Christmas the choir processed into the sanctuary, led by child acolytes who lit the altar candles. Each week a family lit another of the candles in the Advent wreath. At the Christmas Eve service all five candles were lit including the center Christ candle.

In our present church we’ve been similarly touched by the Advent Wreath candle lighting with Scripture readings noting the holy reason for the Season. Come, one and all, to church during this beautiful and holy season. Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Dear Father,
Thank you for this beautiful time of year – Your Advent to earth (Christmas) is often celebrated without recognizing you. It is a time when your light shines in the dark of winter. We wear bright colors and buy gifts for one another. We go to musical performances, we sing carols, we send cards to relatives and friends, and we are more generous. Open the eyes of our hearts – all across this nation and all around the world – so we will know You, honor You, worship You. Open the eyes of those who don’t believe in You. Comfort those in pain or distress. Help us all see the eternal purposes that conquered death and give us everlasting life. We celebrate your coming to earth as a baby – to become our Lord and Savior. What a surprise gift! We look forward to your second coming! We thank you and praise you.

In Jesus Holy name,


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