By Mik Milem, GCU University Pastor
Advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming.’ Advent begins the church year, starting four Sundays before Christmas. The season of Advent has been set aside as a time of preparation since the 6th century. It is a time for preparing for Christ’s second coming, even as we remember and celebrate His first coming at Christmas.
The Advent wreath is a traditional element of the celebration and is made of five candles in a circle of evergreens. Four candles are purple, and the fifth is white. In the church, they light one candle each Sunday for the four weeks before Christmas Day. In a home, the family lights the candles each day, perhaps before the evening meal – one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25.
As we light the candles, we remember a promise given to us concerning the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The first candle represents hope; the second, love; the third, joy; the fourth, peace. On Christmas Day, we light all candles as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A Scripture is read with the lighting of each candle as well, representing the theme of each candle.
On the first Sunday in Advent
- Light one purple candle
- Read Isaiah 60:2-3 – “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
On the second Sunday in Advent
- Light two purple candles
- Read Mark 1:4 – “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
On the third Sunday in Advent
- Light three purple candles
- Read Isaiah 35:10 – “and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
On the fourth Sunday in Advent
- Light all the purple candles
- Read Isaiah 9:6-7 – “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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 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 forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
On Christmas Eve after sundown or on Christmas Day
- Light all the purple candles and the white candle
- Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20 – The Birth of Jesus Christ
(New International Version)