The Meaning of Advent
I’ve really been enjoying my time sitting up front with our MPC kiddos each Sunday. We have some really great conversations about elements of worship, things in the bulletin, the songs the choir sings, kinds of baptism, and so much more! Recently, in our little first pew, we had a discussion about the Advent candles, and what colors mean what things, and why they’re there. We’ve been learning about Advent in our lessons and activities, but the candles themselves were up for debate. Why a pink one? Does it matter in what order they’re lit? Why purple for all of those? Chase, Owen, Annabelle and I have been having fun looking things up and discussing all of these questions – and I think it’s especially important as we prepare for that final candle to be lit on Christmas Eve that we review, embrace, and rejoice in their meanings! Purple is for the ROYALTY of our coming king, Jesus! You see the purple on the pulpit, and on our pastors’ robes. Purple was an expensive color – its ingredients were rare and hard to get, so only the most celebrated and wealthy and powerful could wear it. Purple shows us that Advent is about our KING, Jesus. He may not have come the way we expected a king to arrive, but he is true royalty, and he alone is worthy of our worship.
Our first candle is HOPE – because in Advent, we celebrate the hope Jesus’ arrival brings. It’s the hope that he will overcome sin and death and restore us to right relationship with God. And he does!
Our second candle is PEACE. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and brings us the peace that can only come from him – it’s something we cannot get from anyone, anywhere, or anything, else. Only God.
Our third candle is pink! What? It’s pink for JOY! The fact that we have a savior who brings us hope and peace is more than enough reason to have joy. As the kids have learned in our Galatians 3:22 studies, joy doesn’t come from happiness, or from your circumstances, but from Jesus – so we can never lose it, no matter what is going on in life.
Our fourth candle is LOVE. God loves us without end and without limit, and without qualification. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more – or less. God already loves us unconditionally, and therefore, sent us Jesus in that same love to save us. We are called to live our lives by that same unconditional love, sharing it with EVERYONE!
Our final candle is white – it is the CHRIST candle that we light to celebrate the fact that Jesus DID come, Jesus HAS come, and Jesus WILL come again! He is our Savior, our King, the source of our Hope and Joy, our eternal Lord who Loves us and brings us Peace.
I think it’s really important to also recognize that we symbolize these things that Jesus is to us not only with colors and ideas, but with the candles themselves. They are symbols of LIGHT, and Jesus is the light of the World! We cannot hide his involvement in our lives, and we are to shine with the light of his reflected glory ourselves. The PCUSA web site offers us this: “In the ancient world, various peoples lit fires to mark the turning of the light into winter’s season and to pray for the return of the light. The church has Christianized that practice in the lighting of the Advent wreath. To us, these candles are signs of the growing light of Christ who is coming again in all fullness into the darkness of our world. Until the dawning of that Great Day, we watch and wait in Holy Spirit for Christ’s coming into the darkness of our world, lighting candles of hope, peace, joy, and love; and remembering the promises of God with prayer.” And the best part about Advent is that it’s just a beginning. Advent means something great is coming – and I believe in my heart that something great is coming for us here at MPC as we live, learn, and grow together in community, service, and praise. Let’s let this Advent season be a great reminder that we should center our hope, peace, joy, and love in Jesus Christ, our Savior and King, each and every day of the year! May God bless you today and always, Carrie EndFragment