Evangelicals don’t do bells and smells very well in church. We like lights and sound, but we generally use them to create ambiance not significance.
Historically, many churches have brought out candles for Advent; the four-week season leading up to Christmas. Christmas has been more than a day. It culminates a season of theological reflection and preparation. Perhaps some of us thought the weeks leading up to Christmas were for planning gifts, outdoor displays, and menus!
On the first Sunday of Advent — this past Sunday — many congregations lit a single purple candle. The candle exudes significance.
- The light calls us to remember how desperately we need light in the darkness of the world. It also signifies the Light of the world; Christ himself.
- The color purple denotes the royalty of the coming Messiah. He comes not as a mere messenger but as the King, preparing to reclaim what was His from the very beginning.
- The candle is called “The Prophecy Candle: The Candle of Hope.“
What have the past 11 months held for you? Pain, heartache, loss, or disappointment? How has 2015 turned out for you? A great year? A tough year? Awe and wonder? Apathy and fear?
Advent, officially launched yesterday, begins with the powerful reminder that hundreds of years before He came, the prophets of Israel foretold the coming of the Messianic King. Despite their own tragedies and failures, those men of old believed that a gracious God would send a royal savior to redeem and restore humanity. They held onto hope (Isaiah 9:2-7), grounded in God’s own promise (Genesis 3:15).
Many people need such a word of hope again today.
Are you facing another Christmas alone? Anticipating the first Christmas as a broken family? Wondering how your broken heart can handle the season of “good cheer”? Bitter about the darkness that has enveloped you like a weighty shroud? Burdened by fear of the future?
Perhaps this week get a purple candle — The Candle of Hope — and light it each evening for an hour; a spiritual discipline with a difference that can make a difference as you ponder the thrice coming of the King; the first time in Bethlehem, the second time in our hearts, and the third time for eternity.
Lift up your heads. Be not afraid.