Placing an Advent wreath in the home and lighting Advent Candles became a tradition during post-Reformation Germany. I can only imagine that many believers during this time period, seeking intimacy with God were immediately drawn to the practice. More than anything else, they wanted their children to know and experience the wonder and mystery of God too.
As the candles were lit, it was also customary to read scripture and pray. In part, this tradition began as a way to instruct children about Christ’s coming, but with the ceremony and pageantry associated with the lighting of the Advent candles during family devotionals more importantly, it taught foundational truths about God as well as celebrated God’s continued presence in the home. Children need a faith heritage, a Christmas Inheritance or Bequest, if you will.
The first candle (purple) represented the Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. We have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope is from God.
“And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will come, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:12-13.
The second candle (purple) is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to “get ready”, or to be ready to welcome Christ.
“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘The voice of one crying in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation” Luke 3:4-6.
The third candle (pink) is the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy. The angels sang a message of joy.
“…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 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.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” Luke 2:7-15.
The fourth candle (purple) is the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. The angels announced the good news of a Savior. God sent His only Son to earth to rescue us, because He loves you and me.
“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” John 3:16-19.
And the fifth candle, the last candle (white) is the Christ Candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for His death; His death was for our birth!
“The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29.
So maybe, you are Jewish or Muslim, have other traditions and are not lighting candles for other reasons, but have been following this blog, mildly curious about Advent, let me congratulate you for sticking with it and continuing to read. My hope is that you have been touched by the Word, the words of God. God has moved heaven and earth to reach down to you. There is no one like God. What or who can compare with Him?
“It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare Me, that I should be like him, says the Holy One”.
“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created the [stars]. He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40: 22-31.
Yes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is calling to you. Do you hear Him? He is calling to you in the silence of the candle flame. He is calling to you in the scent of pine boughs promising new life. He is calling to you in the laughter of children or the ringing of bells. He is calling to you. Lift your eyes to the blackened night sky and see the twinkle of stars. Do not faint or stay weary, run to Him and renew your strength. Mount up with the wings of an eagle and soar to Him. He is calling to you.
Or maybe, God is calling to your children. Maybe they are being drawn to Him as you have been…Bring your wee ones to God. Take them to Him. God is meek and lowly of heart, Matthew 11: 29…bring God into your home and tell of His love, lighting a candle…