Well, we have completed the first five minutes of this special Mindful Minute Christmas series. After I got though about the third post, I realized that I needed to have an idea where this series is going and how we will get there. So, I have broken this up into five, 5-day segments about the majesty that is Christmas. We just finished our first segment on the Nativities important supporting cast. So, tonight before I got started, I thought I would share the plan for this trek on which many of you have joined.
Segment 1: The Nativity’s Supporting Cast
Segment 2: Advent
Segment 3: The Sights of the Christmas
Segment 4: The Sounds of Christmas
Segment 5: From the Manger to the Cross & Beyond
Tonight we will begin our look at the season of Advent. Advent is from the Latin word Aventus meaning “coming.” Advent is often associated not just with the coming of Christ at Christmas, but also ties into the rapture fortold in multiple scriptures such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and the second coming of Christ as seen in Revelation 1:7, 19:11-16. Many churches celebrate the advent season during Christmas time. Advent is the time period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, usually beginning on the Sunday closest to November 30. Churches will then follow through with this celebration each week through Christmas Eve when the advent season comes to a close, celebrating the arrival of Christ the King.
If your church celebrates advent (meaning they set aside a part of the service for lighting the candles- I realize we all celebrate it as Christians), then you lit the first of 5 candles on some shape or form of an advent wreath. Even though many people believe the tradition to be centuries old, the modern Advent Wreath invention, in the 1830’s, is credited to Johann Hinrich Wichern, the founder of the Home Mission Movement in Germany. No matter what origin story you follow, this wreath traditionally holds five candles. The meaning of these candles changes from church to church and denomination to denomination. Probably the most traditional path as far as the meaning of the candles is: hope, peace, joy, and love. This is the path we will follow through this segment. If your church goes in a different order, don’t freak out and don’t send me nasty emails. Churches are at liberty to do this in a variety of ways. The concepts are the same, however, and that’s what I want to focus on- a countdown to the birth of Christ. Most of the advent wreaths contain 5 candles, like I have mentioned: 3 purple candles, a pink (or rose) candle, and the white candle. During each post we will talk about the significance of the colors and the candles.
While this segment will be over in the next five days (maybe next year my Christmas special will be an advent devotional), this tradition carries on right up til Christmas Eve. Tonight we will talk about the first candle. Three of these candles are purple. Purple was a very rare dye to get centuries ago, so it was considered to be special. This color usually denotes royalty since it was so rare to find, meaning this color was reserved for the King and the royal family. This is why you see pastors who wear stoles, wear purple during advent- it signifies the coming of the King, our Savior. The first purple candle on the advent wreath signifies HOPE. This is the hope in the promises found in the scriptures of the coming King. We are given hope in the person of Jesus Christ. This hope is the fulfillment of our redemption through the blood of Christ. God gave man promises throughout the bible, promises that God fulfilled and continues to fulfill even to this day; promises to Abraham ,Isaac, and Jacob, promises to Judah, to all of Israel, and to each and every one of us. This is a fallen land and we are a fallen people. It was this hope that God gave the people for a savior, someone who would become the propitiation for our sins. It is that same hope that has been extended to us, the promise that the free gift of salvation lies at the foot of a King; all He asks is for a relationship with you. It is this need for a savior and the knowledge that we don’t have to suffer sin’s penalty that drives this hope. It is the same hope that our Savior will return again for His people. Isaiah 7:13-14 says,
“And he said, Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
There are people who do not understand. There are people who will wake up tomorrow thinking things are hopeless. As I am typing this sentence, the song Someone Worth Dying For by Mike’s Chair just came on my computer. Let me share the first few lyrics from this song:
“You might be the wife waiting up at night
You might be the man struggling to provide
Feeling like it’s hopeless
Maybe you’re the son who chose a broken road
Maybe you’re the girl thinking you’ll end up alone
Praying God, can You hear me?
Oh, God, are You listening?”
These people are out there and they desperately need the hope of Jesus Christ in their life. Let this first candle of the advent season be our reminder that the holidays are not always a happy time for everyone, but they can experience the unbridled hope that is found in the promises of God. Please share God’s message of hope with someone. You will never know the impact that you can have unless you try. You may find that the last glimmer of hope someone has is found in you this advent season.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Angie Mosteller http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=1423
Christmas customs and recipes”, Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH via Wikipedia