It’s time to begin the journey to Bethlehem. I am repeating a column from three years ago because that’s how important I think it is to prepare for the heart of Christmas. Advent begins December 1. You’re not too late to start on it this week.
A family’s Christmas focus could be changed from a materialistic holiday to a Christ-centered one, if they would place an advent wreath in the home. Then the focus would be on the four Sundays prior to Christmas and on Christmas Day (about five weeks, it depends on how Christmas falls). During these weeks the family would be preparing the hearts of their toddlers, children, and themselves, for the memorial celebration of the Christ Child’s birth on Christmas Day. Yes, you can still celebrate Santa, who has become a symbolize spirit of Christmas, but make no mistakes—Jesus is the reason for the season!
The first thing to do is buy a wreath that you can place on a table. Then, most Advent wreaths use three colors of candles –3 purple, 1 pink, and 1 white. The wreath is symbolized of everlasting life. The candles all point to Jesus. The white candle, which represents the arrival of Christ on Christmas Day, goes in the center. I use an artificial wreath and a couple of years ago, I found candles that are battery lit. It all works perfectly and I don’t have to worry about fires. On the appropriate Sunday, gather the family around and light the candle, then reads the Scripture.
1st CANDLE – (purple) THE CANDLE OF HOPE– is to be lighted five weeks before Christmas. The date generally falls in November, but this year it falls on December 1. We hope in God for He never fails us. He keeps His promises to us. “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)
2nd CANDLE – (purple) THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE – God foretold that a Savior would be born in Bethlehem. We begin to prepare to welcome the Savior. “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)
3rd CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE -“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:7-15)
4th CANDLE – (purple) THE ANGEL CANDLE– The angels appeared in the sky and sang to the shepherds.“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
5th CANDLE – (white) “CHRIST CANDLE” – is lit on Christmas Day. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God, sent to cleanse us from our sins! Because He was born and took our sins upon him when He was crucified, we have eternal life. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (John 1:29)
I encourage you to celebrate with an advent wreath this Christmas and see the transformation this activity will bring about in your family’s Christmas focus. Yes, advent begins this week for this season of 2019, but set it up this week, and light the candle of hope. You’ll be glad you did.