Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Treasuring the Gospel through the Advent Wreath

Each December, Christians of all kinds celebrate the ADVENT (coming/appearing) of the Messiah. 

One of the ways many churches mark the time of this season is with an Advent wreath. The evergreens help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus Christ. The wreath consists of five candles: four candles around the wreath and one white "Christ" candle in the center. One candle is lit each week with a corresponding Scripture reading until all are lit. The growing light and development of the story progressively reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. Each candle is typically assigned a specific theme. 

Here's how we, Grace Church, observe the Advent wreath: 
1st CANDLE - THE CANDLE OF HOPE: We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. This candle reminds us that our hope comes from God. "And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.' May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:12-13)  
2nd CANDLE - THE CANDLE OF PEACE:God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem and bring peace and well-being to the world.  This candle, as well as Zachariah's song in Luke chapter 1, reminds of us this: "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." 
3rd CANDLE - THE CANDLE OF JOYThis candle, the only pink one, points to the joy given in the GOSPEL. The angels sang a message of JOY! "...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.' When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:7-15)  
4th CANDLE - THE CANDLE OF LOVE: The angles announced the good news of a Savior.  God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us! This candle reminds us of this life-altering truth - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17)  
5th CANDLE - CHRIST CANDLE:The white candle, the last candle, lit on Christmas Eve, reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth! "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (John 1:29)
The Advent Wreath is a wonderful way to ponder the true meaning of Christmas. During the hustle and bustle of the season, may we treasure the coming of Christ and his Gospel for the world. 

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