Let’s Celebrate Jesus Coming to Earth for Us!
The season of Advent begins the first Sunday after Thanksgiving and ends on New Years day. It is usually 4-5 Sundays in total, each Sunday having a deep special significance. It is traditionally observed using the Advent Wreath with candles. As each Sunday in the season begins a new candle is lit as a dedication and remembrance.
The below was taken from the original blog post:
The Advent Wreath Tradition
WREATH: The wreath itself is typically made of pine branches or even holly. You can purchase a fake wreath just about anywhere during the holidays, and you can also find the real deal, all-natural pine wreaths (Lowe’s carries them, as do most home stores) – though obviously be mindful of the candles with a real wreath, especially as it dries out. And of course, there are all kinds of other advent wreaths out there that aren’t evergreen wreaths at all. Personally, we prefer the simple pine wreaths. You can find out more about the different ‘meanings’ and symbolism behind the wreath online but here are a few tidbits:
The evergreen is meant to symbolize the God who is “ever with us,” and the circular wreath represents the faithfulness of the One Who is from everlasting to everlasting. You can also include red berries for “the blood of Christ.” Noel Piper suggests using a manger scene within your Advent Wreath if you have young children, as a sort of visual aid to help remind them what the wreath is all about.
“The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns… The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world and was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.” (The History of the Advent Wreath – Fr. William Saunders)
The flame is a symbol of the One who is called “the light of the world.” We who follow Him “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The light, brighter by the week, points us toward Jesus who has called us to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). (Treasuring God in our Traditions – Noel Piper)
CANDLES: You can use four or five candles (we prefer five). Traditionally, three of the candles are purple (representing Christ the King and His royalty – also a symbol of His suffering and of the Prince of Peace). Following this tradition, on the third Sunday of Advent, the candle is pink or rose colored symbolizing early dawn (it’s the halfway mark of Advent so it marks the rejoicing of the soul in expectation of the Light of the world on the horizon). And then the center candle, representing Christ, is lit on Christmas morning. The final candle is white and is placed within the center of the wreath while the other four are placed around the circular part of the wreath.
Many churches and individuals choose instead to have all white candles or four red candles with a bigger white one in the center. The color and size of the candles are really a matter of personal choice, and in my humble opinion, not all that important. It’s the reminder that each candle brings during Advent and on Christmas morning that is glorious and good for the heart. Each week the new candle for that week is lit after the previous candles are re-lit. As you light each new candle, a passage or passages can be read out loud and/or explained for children. After that, you can worship, sing, and pray together – just a simple time of devotion in whatever way works best for your family.
The four weeks of Advent are a period of waiting that also signify the four centuries of waiting between the last prophet Malachi and the birth of Jesus. On Christmas morning, you will light all five candles, the center one being the last one in remembrance of Jesus’ coming in the flesh in Bethlehem, and also in looking forward to His return.
Below I have listed a theme for each candle and suggested passages that you could use with each one (we only read through one or two passages to keep it easy for Noah to follow along). However, just like the elements of the Advent Wreath, the meaning or theme for the individual candles varies greatly depending on the denomination or individual… the suggestions I have outlined below are mostly based on what we do as a family. By simply searching online, you will find many different varieties and takes on Advent Wreaths that you can pick and choose from.
CANDLE ONE (Sunday, November 27th) – The “Prophet’s Candle” OR “Candle of Hope”: The first candle is lit in remembrance of the prophets who foretold the birth of Christ and represents hope and expectation in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. There are really many Biblical passages that you can use for the first candle, but if you have younger children, I recommend keeping it very simple so that they can understand and follow the meaning of whatever passage you choose.
Verses that can be used for the Candle of HOPE:
- 1 Peter 1:10-12
- Isaiah 7:10-14
- Isaiah 9:6-7
- Isaiah 11:1-5
- Jeremiah 33:14-16
NOTE: there are many different verses you can choose from for any of the candles. You can use one of the verses that you are reading through or studying specifically during Advent or whatever you want. I would keep it pretty simple if you have smaller children (they will be more likely to follow along and remember with a lot of repetition as well), and if you are also planning on doing an Advent Tree along with daily family devotions, you might want to overlap the passages for your Advent Tree and ornaments with your Advent Wreath for that day.
CANDLE TWO (Sunday, December 4th) – The “Candle of the Way” OR “Candle of Preparation”: The second candle is the candle of preparation. With the lighting of this candle, we hear John the Baptist proclaim, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” and we also hear Jesus say to us, “I AM the way and the truth and the life.” This candle reminds us to examine our own hearts that we may be prepared and sober-minded with our hope set “fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) I love John’s exhortation to a righteous life of abiding in Christ, waiting and watching in 1 John 2:28: “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.”
Verses that can be used for the Candle of PREPARATION:
- John 14:6 and 1 Peter 1:13-25
- Isaiah 40:1-11
- Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:1-6
- Luke 1:5-17
- Mark 1:1-3
- Matthew 3:1-6
- Matthew 11:1-18
CANDLE THREE (Sunday, December 11th) – The “Shepherds’ Candle” OR “Candle of Joy”: The third candle is the pink or rose-colored candle, if using colored candles, and it marks the middle of Advent with rejoicing and joy just as (or somewhat resembling what) the shepherds must have known when the heavens opened and they were met with a HOST of angels and the songs of Heaven itself. This passage is one of the most striking stories of the Bible. I have never knowingly encountered an angel, but I am quite sure if the heavens opened up above me at this very moment and I was face to face with just one angel, I would feel almost every kind of emotion known to man all at once. Butangels “with good news of great joy” and a HOST singing songs of GLORY? Joy is one way to describe it…
But we have something those shepherds did not know or experience… we are the children of God, born anew with the Spirit of the living God abiding within our hearts and a promise not just of JOY, but of the FULLNESS OF JOY! I don’t know if I can even comprehend what those three words mean, but I’m praying and asking the Lord to make this more real to our hearts and in our lives.
Verses that can be used for the Candle of JOY:
- Luke 2:8-20
- Romans 15:4-13
- Isaiah 35:1-10
- Psalms 16, 30, and/or 126
- Luke 10:17-24
- John 3:29-30
- John 15:7-13 and 16:22b-24
- 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
- Hebrews 12:-1-3
- James 1:2-4
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
- 1 John 1:1-4
- Jude 1:24-25
CANDLE FOUR (Sunday, December 18th) – The “Bethlehem Candle” OR “Candle of Love”: The fourth candle is lit in remembrance of the manger of Christ in Bethlehem. When one beholds the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths resting in His mother’s arms and grasping at her finger… when we stop to ponder that this child is God Himself, the One clothed in unapproachable Light now wrapped in the flesh He Himself created from the dust of the earth, everything else fades as Beauty Himself bathes our heart with the incomprehensible Love of the Holy Three that They would go so far to come so near. Love is the only possible response. Awe… worship… and absolute abandonment to Love Himself.
Verses that can be used for the Candle of LOVE:
- Micah 5:2
- Luke 2:1-7
- Matthew 2:1-12
- John 13:1-15
- Romans 8:31-39
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Exodus 34:5-7, Nehemiah 9:16-17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, & Psalm 145
NOTE: the Bethlehem candle is sometimes done on the second Sunday of Advent instead of the fourth, and some churches call the Bethlehem candle the “candle of peace.” And then there are others who put the “Angels’ Candle” in the fourth week as the ‘candle of love’ without doing a ’candle of preparation.’ Since this is your personal Advent Wreath at home, you can obviously choose to set up the candles in any way you want. The order and themes above are merely suggestions based on our personal preferences and what we do with our family.
CANDLE FIVE (Christmas Morning, December 25th) – “Christ Candle”: This is the candle that is lit on Christmas morning (along with the other four). With this candle, we celebrate the birth of Christ. May our hearts rejoice at the passion and glory revealed in the heart of God as He stooped so low and drew so near to us in Bethlehem on that day. May we fall to our knees as we gaze upon and give our hearts to Him – Immanuel, God-with-us. And as we gaze upon His face, let us also gaze upon the horizon – for surely He is coming soon. Oh for the Day when at last we will see and know as we are seen and known!
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:17, 20)
Verses that can be used for the Candle of CHRIST:
- Isaiah 9:2-7
- 1 John 1:1-3
- John 1:1-18
- Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2
- Matthew 1-2
- Revelation 21-22
And that, my friends, is everything you need to know for setting up an ADVENT WREATH this month. Next up, the Advent Tree.
Light of the world, illuminate our hearts, remind us of Who You are and of the manner of love with which You have loved us, and fill every room of our hearts with Your presence and glory. Oh how we long for Your Appearing.