Traditions have a place in our lives, reminding us of important truths which help us live our lives with understanding of the reason for our being here on earth. Traditions are helpful reminders of times and seasons we easily miss in our busy lives. In many countries, Christians observe a tradition of lighting candles on a green wreath during the four Sundays of December.
Some congregations incorporate this as a ceremony in the Sunday services over December, to help the people understand why Jesus was born. In many cases, four candles are lit, some use a fifth candle. The parent in the home, or the Pastor in the congregation will speak to the meaning behind lighting the candle for the Sunday in question.
Here are possible names of the candles for each Sunday in Advent, which is the seasonal celebration of the birth of Jesus. Other various names are used by people, but the theme is similar.
1. The Candle of Prophecy begins with promise.
The first Sunday of December we light the candle of Prophecy, emphasizing God’s promise of a Savior. In Genesis 3: 15, God is speaking to the Evil One, personified as a snake. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. Regarding this scripture, Bible commentator Adam Clarke writes:
He; who? The seed of the woman; the person is to come by the woman, and by her alone, without the concurrence of man. Therefore the address is not to Adam and Eve, but to Eve alone; and it was in consequence of this purpose of God that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin; this, and this alone, is what is implied in the promise of the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent.
2. The Candle of Preparation.
We prepare to welcome him by evaluating our relationship, making preparation by ‘cleaning our spiritual house’ – so He will be welcome in our daily living. Revelation 1:5 speaks of “Jesus Christ the faithful Witness, the First-born from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth”. The second Sunday of Advent, we light a candle as we reflect on our preparedness to greet the Lord. Our relationship to God is more important than our membership in an organization.
3. The Candle of Prospect.
The joy of Christmas is demonstrated by the angelic announcement “. . . I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” Luke 2:10b-11. This is the theme of the third Sunday of Advent, and the candle of joy is lit to emphasize this joy, which the shepherds experienced upon seeing the new-born Jesus in Bethlehem, as the angels told them.
4. The Candle of Peace in Christmas
This is to see the Christ-child as the gift of God for the redemption of all mankind, paying for our sin on the cross, and rising from the dead, to welcome us one day into His presence forever more. He who came first as a child, intends to come again to set this vale of tears straight, and rule the world in peace.
Isaiah 9:6 reads “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be on His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
5. The Candle of Purity
This is usually a white candle, while the first four may be a pale pink or blue color to contrast with the fifth candle. This candle depicts the purity of Jesus the Son of God. People may find fault with ‘religions’, but there is no shortcoming in Jesus. This fifth candle is usually lit on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, when all are gathered together to celebrate Christmas. This is a time to reflect on the pure Son of God, in whom there is no fault nor blemish.
Hebrews 1:1-4 reads "God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds, who being the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence, and upholding all things by the word of His power, through Himself cleansing of our sins, He sat down on the right of the Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they".
Ken Collins in his article emphasizes the need to ‘snuff out’ the candles after the meal or service. Here is what he wrote in his article on Advent Wreaths.
“You notice how I emphasize snuffing out the candles at the end of each service? This has absolutely no liturgical significance whatsoever, but it is vitally important and you must not leave it out. It prevents the candles from burning your house down. I recommend that you snuff out the candles, rather than blowing them out. The reason is that if you blow them out, you might spray hot wax over everything.”
In keeping with this Advent theme, I offer a series of four articles for the Advent season which you can find by clicking the links below. These are resources for reading and presenting the Advent theme to family or a congregation. They can by syndicated to your own Church Website from GlobalChristianCenter.com using the syndication tool, by clicking the “GCC Content Syndication” button on the bottom right of the page.
As Editor and Publisher of Director’s Choice, I wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas.
Director of Content for Network211.com
© 2016 Jim Cole-Rous