Our Blog

Lighting the Christ Candle

Posted by Joel Gilbert on

Christmas Eve Candle Lighting 2016

Candle 1: The Prophet’s Candle of Hope

In the Old Testaments, the Prophets were given glimpses of information designed to clue people in to the coming Messiah.

In Genesis we learn that there is one coming who will crush the enemy (Gen. 3:15).

In Isaiah, we learn that “a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah goes on to speak about his qualities of “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)

The Prophet Micah reveals that Bethlehem will be the birthplace of this “ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”[1](Micah 5:2)

Just as the prophets prepared our spiritual forefathers for the first coming of the Messiah, so we are given signs and are urged to watch for His second advent.

Tonight, we again light the Prophets Candle of Hope as a reminder to be watching and hoping for the next advent of Jesus even as we prepare to celebrate His first advent.

Candle 2: The Candle of Love

There is a lot of preparation that goes in to celebrating Christmas. It takes a lot to get ready for this celebration - adjusting the schedule to spend time with loved ones, preparing food for various gatherings, purchasing gifts for people on our lists, writing Christmas cards so that they arrive on time.

Just as it takes us a lot to get ready for our Christmas celebration, it took hundreds of years of preparation for the first coming of our Messiah. The prophets proclaimed Jesus coming, long before His arrival.

In many ways, preparation is an act of love. It communicates to those who are impacted that they are considered and cared for. God demonstrated His love for His people by preparing them many years in advance. He even sent a messenger, John the Baptist, just a few months older than Jesus, to prepare the people for Jesus’ ministry.

Tonight, we light the candle of love in recognition of all that God did to prepare us for the coming Messiah.

 

Candle 3: The Candle of Peace

Good news often elicits a response: cheering for a touchdown, shouts of joy at the birth of a child, an exuberance over an excellent grade – all of these things are often followed by a proclamation of some sort.

In the coming of Jesus, we see the good news of his birth proclaimed among so many different people. From the prophets and their mysterious prophecies to Mary and her impromptu song to the Angels’ heavenly choral concert and the gleeful response of the Shepherds; good news bursts forth throughout the Christmas story in proclamations of various kinds.

The Angel’s simple message to the shepherds was (Luke 2:14):

            14         “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[2]

 

Each year, our Christmas celebrations proclaim the peace of God, which is for those who choose to believe. Tonight, we light the candle of Peace in recognition of the peace, which was proclaimed from the prophets, the Angels, and even Mary.

Candle 4: The Candle of Joy

While there are many words that pepper our Christmas vernacular, among the most common is “joy.” There is something joyful about the birth of any child. There is the joy of being with family. There is the joy of giving and receiving gifts and cards. Joy abounds in our Christmas celebrations.

In the biblical account of the birth of Jesus, joy fills a variety of encounters. When Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist met Mary, both pregnant by miracles of God, she exclaimed “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”[3]

In response to this encounter and all that God had done in her life, Mary lifted up a song saying, “My soul rejoices in God my Savior.”[4]

After the birth of Jesus, the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “good news of great joy.”[5] The shepherds, after seeing the newborn Messiah returned to the fields “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen…”[6]

Tonight, as we light the fourth advent candle, we light the candle of joy in recognition of the joy that filled the birth of our Savior and the joy that can fill our hearts when we consider the truth of Christmas. Each of the other candles is purple in recognition of the royal nature of Jesus and his sovereignty. Purple is also the color of repentance and fasting. This candle is pink because it marks a change away from the inward repentance and the forward looking and moves upward to rejoicing and praising.

  

Candle 5: The Christ Candle

The birth of a child is filled with emotions – joy, excitement, relief, fear, just to name a few. Joy because the child is finally here. Months of anticipation and change have culminated in the birth of this precious gift from God. There is excitement for all of the things that the future holds. For many parents, there is the sense of relief that the birth was successful. There are so many things that can go wrong in the birth and yet all went well – the baby is healthy, the mom is safe. And then there is the feeling of fear. As a parent will we be up to the task before us? Up to this point, the growth of this child has largely been in the hand of God, and yet now, God has given this baby to earthly parents to “train up in the way he should go.”[7]

Jesus’ birth was so typical and yet unique. Conceived miraculously yet incubated like all of humanity. He came into the world like all babies – vulnerable, dependent – and yet He was the Son of God – human and divine. He was born to parents who would raise him along side younger siblings, each with their own unique design and plan from God – and yet this baby was someone altogether different - He would “save his people from their sins.”[8]

Mary and Joseph must have felt similar emotions to every other parent, joy, excitement, relief, fear. There may have been the added weight of knowing this child was truly on loan from God. There may have been an added sense of peace knowing the God was going to fulfill His mission for humanity in Jesus. The Bible simply says:

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. [9]

Tonight, we light the fifth and final candle in recognition of Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the prophecies. He is the one we’ve been looking for. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He has come into the world to save us from our sins and to bring us into a right relationship with God. He is coming again.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mic 5:2.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Lk 2:10–14.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Lk 1:42–44.

[4] Ibid. Lk 1:47.

[5] Ibid. Lk 2:10

[6] Ibid. Lk 2:20

[7] Pv. 22:6

[8] Mt. 1:21

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Lk 2:4–7.

Comments

to leave comment