Jennifer Wake walks us through lighting the first candle of Advent, the Prophecy Candle of “Hope”.
The Prophecy Candle of Hope
by Jennifer Wake
Whenever I enter a church after Thanksgiving, the smell of pine wafts over me. I love to see the large advent wreath somewhere near the altar in the front of the church. The candles stand ready to give off light, the boughs tightly woven together, and the ribbons gracefully falling down. I remember when I was a little girl, going up with my family to light one of the advent candles.
Fire and children what could possibly go wrong? What could be better than a child armed with a lighter on the alter under the solemn gaze of parishioners? Actually, a lot of things are better, but I loved the honor of lighting the candle without help from any adult. Yes, my mother was close by and I am sure the pastor had someone ready to pull the fire alarm and evacuate the church if I caught other things on fire. Yet my love for Advent started because my parents allowed me to light a candle and learn about God, the incarnation of Jesus, and His second coming.
As a child, I did not understand much about the Advent season.
As I grew older I learned about the symbols and their meanings. A spirit of hope, faith, joy, and love mark the Advent season. Anticipation and longing for Christ’s return fill the days. Each week touches on one of these Fruit of the Spirit and includes a time of reflection and fasting. During the first two weeks, people would fast and repent then break the fast with the lighting of the Joy candle.
To start an Advent wreath, we light the candle across from the rose/pink candle and go counterclockwise. Why Counterclockwise? Because it goes opposite the way the people used to dance around the fire on the winter solstice to separate us from that pagan ritual. The early church did not want to do things other faith groups practiced. Counterclockwise reminds us that our idea of days, weeks, or months does not constrain God; he is eternal and exists before and beyond our time
The first candle is The Prophecy Candle.
It reminds us of the hope the prophets and the people had for a savior. It reminds us of the hope which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth, justice, and righteousness over his people and in his Creation. And, not least of all, it reminds us of the hope of his coming, even as a baby. During the first week, the Prophecy Candle reminds us to look at verses that tell about our coming king. It starts the time to refocus and look to the future with hope.
Jesus is THE HOPE of the world.
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
As you spend this week preparing for Christ’s return here are some Scriptures to read every day.
Isaiah 7:14, 9:2-7, and 11:2-4
Hymns to sing with your family:
O Come O Come Emmanuel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Come Thou Long expected Jesus
If you missed it, you can find the introduction to Advent here.