why do we light candles for advent

What do the candles in our Advent wreath mean? The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy. While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ.

The Advent wreath began in the time of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Others consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation, while the second symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world. The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.

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According to present usage, Advent is a period beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and embracing four Sundays. The first Sunday may be as early as November 27, and then Advent has twenty-eight days, or as late as December 3, giving the season only twenty-one days. With Advent the ecclesiastical year begins in the Western churches. During this time the faithful are admonished to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love, thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

Sunday - November 27, 2016 The first Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, shortly after November 30. It is called the Prophecy Candle and reminds us that Jesus' coming was prophesied hundreds of years before He was born. The candle's purple color represents Christ's royalty as the King of Kings.

Suggested Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:2-6 and Luke 1:30-35 Prayer as we light the first purple Advent Candle - the Candle of Hope (The Patriarchs, Abraham, the Old Testament Ancestors of Jesus) Sunday - December 4, 2016 The second candle, lit on the second Sunday of advent along with the first candle, is the Bethlehem candle, reminding us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It too is purple, reminding us that it was a King Who was born in the manger. Suggested Bible reading: Micah 5:2 and Luke 2:1-7 Prayer as we light the second purple Advent Candle - The Candle of Peace (The prophets who foretold the birth of Jesus) Sunday - December 18, 2016 The fourth candle, lit on the fourth Sunday of advent, is the Angel's candle.

As we light this flame, we are reminded of the heavenly hosts that proclaimed Christ's arrival with Behold, I bring unto you good tiding of great joy! The Angel candle is also purple, reminding us that it was a King's birth the angels were announcing. Suggested Bible Reading: Ezekiel 34:23, Luke 2:15-20 and John 10:11