The four candles of Advent are traditionally used as the candles leading up to the anniversary of Jesus’ birth. Each of these four candles holds profound meaning to each of us as Christians. The four candles of Advent include hope, love, joy, and peace.
In this article, I’m going to discuss how each of the four candles of Advent prepares us for the season. As a disclaimer, the color variations and week variations for each candle of Advent vary depending on the denomination and tradition of the church.
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1. The Candle of Hope
The first candle of Advent is the candle of hope. This candle is normally purple, and it is known as the Prophecy Candle. It is referred to as the Prophecy Candle because it is the first candle looking forward to Christ’s advent to the world.
The prophets of the Old Testament were hopefully looking forward to the advent of the Savior. The Prophecy Candle also represents “God's forgiveness of man's sins” (Ibid.).
This first candle of Advent reminds us of the hope of Christ coming into the world. The world was a dark place before Jesus was born. God became flesh in order to save us from our own sins.
Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a man for the purpose of saving us from our sins and giving us eternal life if we would but place faith in Him.
The Apostle Paul tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8).
As Paul tells us, we need to have the same mindset as Jesus. Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant to save us from our sins. Because of Jesus’ great sacrifice, we can have hope, just as the first candle of Advent reminds us.
We are never without hope because Jesus is with us, and He has provided us with salvation. The Prophecy Candle prepares us for the season because it points us back to Jesus’ original advent to the world.
Without Jesus’ original advent into the world, we would be without hope. All of the prophets eagerly looked forward to the coming of Christ, even if they did not live to see the advent of Christ into the world.
For this upcoming season of Advent, reflect on Jesus’ first coming into the world. He was born into the dark world to bring light into the hearts of mankind. The hope of Jesus can burn brightly in our hearts this season by remembering this first candle of Advent.
It is important to reflect on the hope we have in Jesus, not just during the Christmas season but also throughout the entire year. The hope of Jesus isn’t restricted to a certain holiday season, as we can rejoice in the hope of Jesus throughout every day of our lives.
2. The Candle of Peace
The second candle of Advent is the Candle of Peace, which is another purple candle, symbolizing the peace Jesus brought into the world. This second candle is also referred to as the Angel's Candle or the Christ Candle, and during this week of Advent, special emphasis is placed on prayer (Ibid.).
Whether you choose to call it the Angel’s Candle or the Christ Candle, it is to symbolize the peace of the Lord.
The peace Christ offers us never goes away, as it always remains with us. Though it may be hard to feel at times, the peace of Christ is just a prayer away.
Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
The peace of Jesus is perfect, consistent, and lasts forever. During the holiday season, it is easy to become overcome with stress, anxiety, and constant functions.
The Lord offers us His peace if we just turn to Him. Come sit at the feet of Jesus instead of being more concerned about the preparations (Luke 10:38-42).
Allow this second candle of Advent to prepare you for the season by focusing on the Lord and going to Him in prayer. Christmas is not all about the gifts, the holiday lights, and the Christmas tree. Instead, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Due to the emphasis on materialism in the world, we can lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Through the Christ Candle, it can help us to remember the peace of Jesus and the peace He brought into the world on the night He was born.
3. The Candle of Joy
The third candle of Advent is the Candle of Joy, also known as the Shepherd's Candle. This candle is also purple. This candle can prepare us for the season because it is symbolic of the joy the shepherds had when they heard the good news of the Savior’s birth.
We can have this same joy in our hearts as we prepare for the upcoming season of Advent. It is important to remember that joy is not the same as happiness, as joy lasts in our hearts, whereas happiness does not last.
The joy the shepherds had on the night of the first Christmas Eve was because of the knowledge of the Savior being born into the world.
The Sunday this candle is lit is called “Gaudete Sunday,” and this comes from Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-5 (Ibid.). Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
As this passage tells us, we need to rejoice in the Lord always because He is near. Even though we cannot see Him, God is always with us (Matthew 28:18-20). Allow this truth to fill your heart during this holiday season. The joy of the Lord can be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Also, during this lighting of the third candle, it is time to turn in repentance to the Lord, focus on His great mercy, and to look forward to the day we will see Him. Often in our fast-paced society, we tend to neglect the importance of truly repenting our sins.
Acting in a manner of repentance means we turn away the sin because we see sin as God sees it — utterly shameful, horrible, and evil. We all struggle with sin as we all have the sinful flesh (Romans 3:23). During this holiday season, use the opportunity to repent of your sins and actively turn to the Lord.
4. The Candle of Love
The fourth candle of Advent is the Candle of Love. This candle is pink, and it is known as the Bethlehem Candle. This candle of Advent is “associated with royalty and reminds us that Christ is the ‘King of Kings’” (Ibid.).
This candle is a beautiful reminder that Jesus will once again return and claim His rightful place as King. This will happen after Jesus destroys the antichrist and reigns for 1,000 years on earth. We can all eagerly look forward to the day when Jesus will once again return and reign as our King.
This candle is also called the Candle of Love because it reminds us of Jesus’ love. Throughout the Bible, we are constantly reminded of God’s unconditional love for us. The greatest example of God’s love is Him sending His Son into the world to die for our sins.
The Lord tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
This candle of Advent can help prepare us for the holiday season by reminding us of God’s love.
The world has distorted the definition of love and turned it into something that doesn’t have much impact. Sadly, this can cause many to not understand God’s love.
The love God has for us is perfect and everlasting. It doesn’t change depending on what we do or what we don’t do. God’s love for us is found in His perfect nature, and it never fades away.
This holiday season, may this truth fill your heart and mind with the love God has for you. Instead of being swallowed by the stresses of the holiday season, choose to reflect on God’s perfect love.
When you reflect on God’s love for you, the Christmas season will be much more enjoyable and filled with the light of Christ.
The Wreath of Advent
Depending on your denomination or the tradition of your church, the four candles of Advent will be placed on the wreath of Advent. Throughout the weeks of Advent, you will light up one candle per week and reflect on the meaning of the candle.
The final candle is in the middle of the four other candles, and it is lit on Christmas Day. The candles of Advent and the wreath of Advent point us back to our wonderful Savior and Lord.
The Christmas season is meant to be in celebration of the Lord, and each of these four candles of Advent helps prepare us for the holiday season.
We can also prepare for the season by making sure we are active in prayer time with the Lord, reading the Bible, and applying what we learned. Preparing our hearts for the Christmas season takes time, yet we can all be ready by utilizing the four candles of Advent and applying their meanings to our lives.
Christmas is a time of praising the Lord, being thankful for His advent into the world, and looking forward to His second coming to the earth.
If you are in need to be reminded of hope, love, joy, and peace for this upcoming Christmas season, reflect on the candles of Advent and allow them to fill your heart with the light of the Lord.
During the modern day, it can be hard to find hope, love, joy, and peace, yet we can find all of these things in Christ.
Hope is found in the Lord as Hebrews 13:8 encourages us by saying, “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”
We can be encouraged by our hope in the Lord. In the same way, perfect love is found in God. Paul tells us this truth, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
Joy cannot be found apart from Christ either, as 1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
As Peter tells us, we have an inexpressible joy because we know Jesus as our Savior. Lastly, peace is found only in the Lord. When Jesus was born into the world, He brought light and salvation with Him.
Found in Christ is the perfect peace that can never be taken away. The prophet Isaiah says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
The more we focus on God and keep our minds on Him this holiday season, we will be able to rest in the perfect peace of the world. Allow the four candles of Advent to prepare your hearts and mind for the season in celebration of Jesus’ birth into the world.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.