For those who are not familiar with the tradition of lighting a candle for each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day— it is a tradition that dates to the 300’s at a meeting of church leaders called the Council of Sargossa. It gradually developed into a season that stretched across the month of December. One of the first mentions of an Advent calendar appeared in 1851 in a children’s book by Elise Averdieck. The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. Advent candles shine brightly in the midst of darkness, reminding us that Jesus came as Light into our dark world. The candles are often set in a circular Advent wreath.
- The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the “Prophet’s Candle.” The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.
- The second candle represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David.
- The third candle symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy.
- The fourth candle represents peace and is called the “Angel’s Candle.” The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace–He came to bring people close to God and to each other again.
- The (optional) fifth candle represents light and purity and is called “Christ’s candle.” It is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day.
So, let’s start— HOPE.
America has recently witnessed an upheaval in civil indecency, half-truths, murders, and mass migrations and confinements of immigrants against their will. It’s hard to find hope these days. So many people are suffering. So many accusations are flying as to who is to blame.
A century ago, in response to a newspaper article that asked, “What is wrong with the world today?” the British journalist G.K. Chesterton purportedly wrote a letter to the editor which read, simply:
Hope is a decision to see through the quagmire, to peer into our darkness and find light, if ever so faint; to create solutions in the dark. Hope is what Christ brought into our world when he was born.
This Christmas, I want to give hope to those around me. How will you give hope to people this giving season? Our world is in desperate need of hope. Be creative!
Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT TIME~ An ADVENT of FAITH