On Advent Sunday (the start of the Christian year) we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning arrival or coming. The season of Advent is the first period of reflection in the Christian year, the second being Lent. Advent is a time for preparing for Christ’s second coming, even as we remember and celebrate his first coming at Christmas.
There are several themes related to this traditional wreath, with a variety of colours that sometimes incorporate purple and pink candles. For my four Advent Sunday posts (this and the following three Sundays) I’m sticking with red, but switching to white, purple and pink on Christmas Day. Similarly, the themes associated with each candle have variations and different traditions.
The first candle symbolises HOPE and is known as the Prophet’s Candle. The prophets of the Old Testament waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Advent Sunday is an opportunity to recall the hope we have in Christ. God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, because he trusted and put his hope in God. The Old Testament spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a Saviour would be born, a king in the line of King David. He would rule the world wisely and bless all the nations. We also believe in God’s promise to send Jesus again to this world to establish his kingdom upon the earth.
Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. As we reflect on the light from this candle, we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: God of Abraham, the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, you are our Father too. Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Son of David. Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth, to make our hearts ready and to place our hope in you. Help us today and every day to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your hope with others. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.
See also: Advent Wreath Ceremony 2020