Today is the last day of the first week of Advent. Since I was not raised in a church attending family, the concept of Advent was foreign to me until my mid to late 30’s. Most of the churches that I have attended since that time have had some sort of Advent wreath. Recently, I wanted to better understand the history and purpose of Advent week and the Advent wreath, so I did some research on my ‘magic black box’, a.k.a. my laptop.
Unfortunately, like many Christian “traditions”, the Advent wreath seems to have it’s origins in pagan or non-Christian practice. History seems to be unclear as to when and by whom the wreath was turned into a Christian symbol. Perhaps it is not a bad thing to have something that was meant for unworthy worship turned into something to bring remembrance of the only One who is worthy of worship. From what I have read, the wreath’s circle represents God’s unending love, the greenery represents eternity, and the candles represent different aspects of the coming or ‘Advent’ of Jesus. The colours of the candles and their meanings seem to vary from denomination to denomination.
It is my understanding that the first week of Advent is to commemorate hope – that is, the hope of the coming of “The Hope”, Jesus Christ. The first candle on the wreath is known as the “Hope” candle but it is also called “The Prophecy” candle due to all the prophecies given to humankind regarding the coming of “The Hope”, Jesus.
Rom 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, so that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
The first hope/Hope prophecy was given in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The prophecy was actually spoken by God to the serpent – the devil (hopefully Adam and Eve were “Eve”sdropping!):
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
I have read that Biblical scholars believe that there are over 300 Biblical prophecies concerning the coming or Advent of Jesus. That is a lot of messages of hope being delivered!
What is this “hope” that the Israelites looked towards and that is available to us now?
It is the hope of the One who will bring blessings to all who believe:
Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (God telling Abram about The One who will come through the line of Abraham)
It is the hope of a restored relationship with God and with His covenant:
Gen 17:19 Then God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac: I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
It is the hope of overcoming, evil, death and destruction:
Num 24:17 I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob;A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.
It is a hope of justice, righteousness and peace:
Is 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
It is the hope of living in God’s grace and glory:
Rom 5:2 Through Him (Jesus) we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice on the hope of the glory of God.
And ultimately, it is the hope of having Christ live in us, for Jesus is The Hope of glory:
Col 1:27 For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
My prayer for my readers is this:
Rom 15:13 And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Wishing you all a life filled with The Hope of glory, not only at this season but all the year through.