Advent means “coming” or “visit”. During the Christmas-time season of Advent, we prepare to again observe God’s “coming” or “visit” to earth and to our lives and circumstances as the Christ of Christmas.
Each Advent Sunday can become a teachable moment for believers to review the history and meaning of Christ’s first visit and give renewed understanding to the promises and hope of Christ’s second visit.
Purposeful preparation in homes and churches often includes four candles, plus a fifth one, known as the “Christ Candle,” which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Each candle has a different meaning, based on the Bible’s teachings, and each can help us remember some key facets of faith and prepare our hearts to appreciate the truths surrounding the “advent” or “coming visit” of the Babe of Bethlehem.
By lighting one candle each Sunday of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready to meaningfully observe the birth of Jesus. The first week’s candle is often called the candle of Hope. Its light pierces the darkness with the hope-filled truth of God’s transcendent presence among His creation.
The prophet Isaiah projected the advent’s truth when he said:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.” — Isaiah 9:2
Our advent preparations help us welcome the Light which has come into our world and how we can be a witness to that light as we share these truths and celebrations with others.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:9-12 (NIV)
The Advent Season also reminds us of our hope for the second coming of Jesus. In His first advent, the Son of God came as a baby, grew in wisdom and stature, and taught with authority, as a prophet. He willingly gave up his life to save us from our sins. He is our only hope of eternal salvation and deliverance from the “kingdom of darkness.”
Best of all, He is coming again to judge the living and the dead and to establish His everlasting “kingdom of light” over all the earth!
The light of God’s love for us can help us become lights in the lives of those around us. The Advent season and activities can prepare our hearts with the joy and gladness of an increasing awareness of God’s presence among us. His name is Emmanuel, which means “God with us!”
Let us rejoice and be glad, as we prepare during this Advent season to celebrate anew Christ’s birth and redeeming visit! And, let us eagerly look forward to His promised second visit! It is sooner now than when we first believed!