Advent. I love this season of the year; things are festive, people once again visit their churches, songs are sung, and hearts are merry. Advent, which means the arrival or coming, is in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s birth, God incarnate, the Savior of the world. Advent is one of those liturgical seasons which remind me of my upbringing, especially the lighting of the candles. I always had such great anticipation of waiting to go to church to see the next candle lit—it means we were one week closer!
However, the candles have meaning and I’m not sure that most believers know what each one means. Some churches utilize four purple and one white, or 3 purple, 1 pink, and one white—some now even use blue. Regardless, the names of the candles are all the same. So, allow me to give a brief explanation of each.
1st Sunday of Advent
This is a purple candle and the first one lit. The color purple is symbolic for majesty or royalty; the anticipation of the coming King. However, since the Lenten season also uses the color purple, some modern churches have switched to blue, but traditionally, it is purple. The candle is known as the prophecy candle; also called, the hope candle. This candle reminds us of the hope that was provided from ages past, concerning the coming Christ. He would come into the world to give hope to lost, hurting, afflicted, and those in bondage to sin (Psalm 62:5; Eph. 1:12)
2nd Sunday of Advent
This candle is a second purple candle. The Second Advent candle represents love. What can we truly say about God’s everlasting love for people that are rebellious? Thank the LORD of heaven and earth that He loves us with such a great love. The love of Christ is greater and stronger than anything earthly, universal, or spiritually made or not made (Rom. 8:36-39)
3rd Sunday of Advent
The third Sunday of Advent is the pink candle or again a purple candle. This candle represents joy, it is pink to symbolize a rose—a celebratory event is coming! I may now be a Baptist pastor, but I was raised in the Anglican faith; I still love the traditional collect for this Sunday, which reminds me of joy: “…let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us…” That is joy—joy that God delivers us from our sins and sets us free. God has abounding and amazing grace and mercy for people—we should be joyous and rejoice in Him.
4th Sunday in Advent
The fourth candle is the last purple candle, sometimes called the Angel candle due to the angelic messenger sent by God to proclaim His coming into the world, as man (Luke 1:26-33). This candle is also called the peace candle—for the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). Of course, Paul the Apostle states that Jesus, Himself, is our peace (Eph. 2:14). Ultimately, there is no peace without Christ.
Christmas Eve/Christmas Day
The white candle is called the Christ Candle; it only lit during the service that represents His arrival—this may be a Christmas Eve candle light service or a Christmas Day service. The color white signifies the purity and holiness of the Christ child—the sinless Savior born of the Virgin Mary.