Would I be a Christian without Advent?
Have you noticed a wreath with four candles in your church this time of year? If so, It is probably an Advent wreath. The wreath symbolizes expectancy and preparation for Jesus’ birth. The wreath is a visual way to focus on what really matters at Christmas time - Jesus.
The first candle is purple and symbolizes hope. It is also called a “Prophecy Candle.” It memorializes Isaiah’s prophetic telling of Jesus’ birth. It also represents the anticipation of the coming Messiah. Isaiah 9:1-7 documents the prediction of Jesus’ birth. Specifically, Isaiah 6-7 reads,
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 greatness 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.
The second candle is purple too. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” and represents faith. It is a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem while she was pregnant. Luke 2 documents the birth of Jesus. Caesar Augustus was taking a census of the Roman empire, and each person was required to return to their own town to fulfill their census obligation. This required Mary and Joseph to return to Bethlehem while she was pregnant. Their journey began in Nazareth. It was about 90 miles and would require approximately 31 hours of travel time which likely involved four days, all while being very pregnant.
The third candle is pink. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle” and reminds us of the joy the world experienced because of the birth of Jesus. The shepherds are included in Luke 2:8-20. According to Pratt (2022), joy involves the “good feeling in our souls produced by the Holy Spirit as He causes us to see the beauty of Jesus in His word and in His works.”
The fourth candle is purple. It is known as the “Angel’s Candle.” It reminds us of the angels that proclaimed the message, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men” (Luke 2:13-14).
Advent commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year, Advent starts on November 27th. This is a time of spiritual preparation as we look forward to Jesus’ birthday and also look forward to His second coming. During this time, many Christians pray, read the Bible, repent, and fast.
The Advent Fast starts on November 28th and ends on January 6th. It is a 40-day fast. The Advent Fast is a spiritual discipline of purification and recommitting one’s life to innocence.
Fasting is something that has been on my heart for a while. This year, the term fasting has surfaced more than in any previous year in my life. I have fasted in the past, but it has been a while. Rodgers (2001) wrote that the purpose of fasting is to;
(a) humble ourselves and overcome the flesh
(b) repent and seek the Lord
(c) for God’s presence to appear
(d) to receive spiritual direction
(e) for spiritual enlightenment
(f) as part of our Christian ministry
(g) for deliverance from demons
(h) to deliver from trouble
(i) for finances
(j) for revival
(k) for the salvation of your family
(l) for mercy and grace.
There are obvious advantages to fasting; however, I want to encourage you (and me) to consider fasting for the sake of preparing for purification and recommitment to Christ.
This month we are counting our blessings and positioning our attitude toward gratitude. How are you thankful for Advent?
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