If you were to enter my home in the months leading up to Christmas you would be greeted with an over-the-top amount of Christmas decorations, all of which goes up in the month of October. Yes. I know we have a problem! There’s the tree covered with lights and ornaments. There’s the garland wrapped around the banister. But most importantly, nestled between hanging stockings, is my very favorite piece of holiday décor: a bright silver Advent tree. This tree is made up of 24 individual boxes, each stuffed with their own candy. And each day in the month of December, I get to open a box, and share a special sweet treat with my daughter.
But, in reality, Advent is so much more than just twinkling lights, festive decorations, and candy treats. There is a spiritual depth and a rich history to celebrating Advent, which the church has practiced for centuries. Let’s explore the real meaning of Advent.
HISTORY OF ADVENT:
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word "adventus," meaning "coming" or "arrival." What is being celebrated is that 2000 years ago, a baby named Jesus arrived into our world on that first Christmas. Typically, the Advent season spans the four weeks leading up to Christmas day. This period of time serves as a time of preparation and reflection as millions of Christians around the globe take time out of the busyness of their schedules to focus their hearts, minds, and their attention back to the birth of Jesus.
If we turn to the Bible, the scripture Isaiah 9:6 captures the essence of the Advent season when it says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah shared this prophetic promise from God that a Savior would one day be coming to our earth to bring light to a darkened world. And so ever since then, the people of God have both looked forward to and looked back to this moment in history.
FOUR WEEKS OF ADVENT:
Advent is broken up into four separate weeks, each with their own specific theme—Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace. Traditionally, each Sunday during Advent, you light one candle on an Advent Wreath, signifying that we’re one week closer to the arrival of our Savior. You’ll see this practiced at many churches during the month of December. Here’s what each week and candle symbolizes:
1. Hope: The first week of Advent centers on hope, and is symbolized by the lighting of the first candle. This is called the “Prophet’s Candle,” as it represents the hope of God’s people as they waited throughout history for the arrival of the Savior that God had promised.
2. Joy: The second week is marked by the theme of joy, celebrated with the lighting of the “shepherd’s candle.” The first people to be invited into the joy of Jesus’s birth were actually shepherds out in the field that first Christmas morning. Typically, this candle is colored pink.
3. Love: The next week focuses on love. And this week the third candle, “Bethlehem’s candle,” is lit. God sending his only son to earth as a baby, where he’s born in a humble stable found in the small town of Bethlehem, is the greatest definition of the word love. It’s a sacrificial love.
4. Peace: The final week of Advent emphasizes peace, culminating in the lighting of the “Angels Candle.” It was the angels that announced that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was entering the world in order to reconcile (bring peace) between both God and men.
And in case you’re wondering - the fifth candle in the middle represents Light and it’s called the “Christ Candle.” It’s lit on Christmas Day to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world that dispels the darkness. Lighting these candles is a practice to remind us to focus our hearts and our minds on the true reason for the season, Jesus.
YOUR NEXT STEPS:
So, what does this mean for you? First, recognize that Advent is more than just a countdown to Christmas. If you’ll lean in and embrace it, Advent can become a sacred journey. It reminds followers of Jesus to embrace hope, joy, love, and peace in the midst of a busy season. Can I challenge you to jump in and join the journey? Check out our resources below and see how you can participate in the Advent season.
By: Zach Taylor
Zach is passionate about sharing inspiring stories of God's goodness with His people. Before joining Liquid Church’s Teaching Team, Zach has served the local church as a pastor for 15+ years in the greater Los Angeles area, as well as West Palm Beach, Florida. He, his wife KC-Rae, daughter Wynter Storme, and dog Khloe love to travel together. Fun fact: Zach is a natural entrepreneur and together with his wife, owns dozens of AirBnB's across California, New Jersey, and Florida!
🔶ADVENT RESOURCES: Visit LiquidChurch.com/Advent to learn more about Liquid Church's Advent message series, plus check out tools such as our Advent Family Guide to host your very own Advent Candle Lighting at home!
🔶SERIES: Check out our Advent Conspiracy Series if you’re interested in learning more about the meaning of Advent in our lives.