Advent: The Coming of Christ

Advent Week 1: Day 1

Light one candle to celebrate Jesus as the Light.

Read: Isaiah 9:1-2

“In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan — The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (9:1-2)

—–

Welcome to the 2011 Advent daily devotional!  Advent is the season we normally call “Christmas” but it’s origins are even older than our modern holiday. I’ve tracked Advent down to at its latest development the 4th Century AD (300’s). That makes it about 1,700 years old. Advent is a traditional counting down of the four weeks preceding Christmas Day, a period in which different attributes of Jesus are celebrated by the lighting of candles and reading of Scripture. The attributes and arrangement of candles varies based on tradition. Some people choose to line their candles up in a row using candlesticks while others place their candles in a circular wreath. This latter form is the most common in the Western world.

The advent candles have special symbolism to them. There are four taper candles to represent both the four centuries of waiting between Malachi’s prophecy and the birth of Christ as well as the four Sundays of Advent. A large white candle is placed in the middle to represent the Christ Child and is only lit on Christmas Day. It is white to reflect the holiness of Jesus and His salvation. Three of the candles are purple to represent the royalty of Christ and a fourth is either pink or red to represent either Christ’s humanity or His blood. The three purple candles are to be lit sequentially on the first three Sundays and the pink or red one on the fourth Sunday.

This year we will be celebrating four attributes of Christ, starting with the Light of Christ. Our first Advent passage is Isaiah 9:1-2, a hope-filled prophecy that comes after eight chapters of judgment and warning in Isaiah. Suddenly, after all the terrors of God’s wrath are poured out on Israel and its neighbors there would come a light in the darkness. A ray of hope. A silver lining. The people of Galilee will see a great light. From Galilee the messiah would be known. And the reign of darkness will end. O glorious light!

This week I’ll be exploring different aspects of the light of Christ. Every Sunday I plan to post a special Advent video that introduces the week’s theme.

Merry Advent!