A "New" Old Christmas Tradition
Project 7 Billion is excited to welcome guest blogger, Vince Nigro! Vince is a member of the Board of Directors and Pastor of Creative Services and Media at Fountaingate Fellowship. Thank you Vince for your words below welcoming us into the season of Advent.
What a great time of year! Weather is changing and everywhere you look, God is at work! While driving back from San Antonio to Abilene last night, I began to think about how rich the culture is in San Antonio. The Hispanic influence throughout the city is refreshing, inviting, and even mysterious to a visitor like myself. Passing through Fredericksburg gave me similar feelings with it’s roots steeped in strong German heritage. It set my mind wandering about Christian Christmas traditions, including one that I’ve never participated in... Advent. My wife, Stephanie, began sharing with me recently that she wanted to participate in the tradition of Advent. On this return trip, we did some research and have come to some conclusions. We also decided we would start this new tradition this year and wanted to share some insights. Let’s begin.
"Waiting... the action of staying where one is. Time passing. Expecting something to happen; until one day it does." Concordia Publishing House
Advent is a time of waiting, of hope and anticipation. We are told in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.”
Advent is THE Church in waiting... the Church’s yearly reminder in December of what Christians worldwide anticipate in the days before Christmas. Advent as a noun, comes from the Latin and means “Come into” as Jesus came into the world for each of us.
We wait for Christmas like Israel waited for centuries for a Savior... For God to fulfill His covenant, they waited... For a virgin’s son in Abraham’s line; a descendant of Isaac, Jacob and David... For a branch from the rod of Jesse... For a baby, to be called Immanuel, born in Bethlehem as the scripture in John 1:14 states; “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...”
For generations, God’s people waited for the fulfillment of countless Old Testament prophesies of a Savior who would come like a lion and a lamb to light this world with hope, brighter than any Maggi star. Jesus was the long-awaited hope to this dark and sinful world. He was the true light that gives light to everyone, and He was coming into this world!
As Christians today wait for the “light” of Christmas, the four advent candles are lit with each week’s passing. The first week, four Sunday’s before Christmas, a purple candle is lit to signify Prophecy. This is sometimes called the Candle of Hope. The second Sunday, a candle called the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation is lit. It is also purple in color and repentance is a theme during the use of the first two candles as well. When the third Sunday arrives, with less than 2 weeks before Christmas, a pink candle, named the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy, burns brightly. This candle represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration. On the final Sunday before Christmas, a third purple candle is lit to signify Love. It’s called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. When an Advent Wreath is being used, these four candles surround a final fifth candle that resides at the center. The Christ Candle, lit on Christmas Day, is the fifth Advent Candle... it’s color is white. White is the color of Advent representing purity and light. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior at the center of it all!
We know, being believers in Jesus’ redemptive grace, that our hoping and waiting doesn’t stop at Christmas. We believe He’s coming back.... a second advent, not knowing the day or hour, but believing! As we hope for Christmas, we wait and pray for our Savior’s return, sharing the Good News that Jesus loves you... and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change that!
Peace and God's love to you,