The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than marking a 2,000-year-old event. It is celebrating a truth about God—the revelation of God in Christ, whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.
Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of believers as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, preparation, and longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by the Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out in their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought freedom.
It is this hope, however faint at times, that brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth, justice, and righteousness over His people and in His creation. That hope now anticipates anew the reign of a Messiah, who will bring peace, justice, and righteousness to the world.
The Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath symbolizes the beginning of the church year. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Each aspect of the wreath has special meaning, contributing to the compelling story it communicates as a whole.
The wreath’s circle reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and His endless mercy, with no beginning or end. The green speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of renewal, of eternal life. The four outer candles represent the waiting period during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
The candlelight reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World who comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect God’s grace to others (Isaiah 42:6). The progressive candlelighting symbolizes our waiting experience. As the candles are lit over the four-week period, the darkness of fear and hopelessness recedes and the shadows of sin fall away as more and more light enters the world.
The center candle—the Christ Candle—is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The central location of this candle reminds us that the Incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. When the Christ Candle is lit, worshippers rejoice that the Light has come into the world—the promise of long ago has been realized.
My prayer is that in the midst of the bustle and full schedule, you can pause to reflect on this season of waiting and expectation. We wait upon the one who brings hope, peace, love, and joy to our souls. I was so encouraged by this Advent Devotional, I wanted to share it with you as it has made me think even more deeply about the series we’re in and the season we are now in as well.
Because of Christ,