The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, four or five candles are typically arranged. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
During the season of Advent, one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services. Families or other small groups of people give devotional readings while lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, adding a meaningful dimension to worship.
We invite our St. Matthew families to repeat this tradition at home as a way of deepening and making spiritual preparations more intimate and personal. Each Sunday, during Advent, light a new candle (plus the one(s) from the previous Sunday. Read about the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love below.
Advent 1 – Hope
Today we light the first candle of Advent, the candle of Hope. (Light Candle)
We put our hope in the one to come, the promised one who comes from God to bring good news of salvation. We hope in the one who will lead us to walk in the light of the LORD. We hope he will not let us live in dark valleys, but on the high mountain of God. We light this candle in Hope.
On this day, we remember to hopefully look for the coming of Christ.
Advent 2 – Peace
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ. Today we light the second candle of Advent, the candle of Peace. God has a peaceful dream for the world, and we dream it too. We dream of peaceful world full of wolves and leopards and lions eating and sleeping and dancing with lambs, kids, and calves. We dream of a peaceful world where nations come together, where war is a memory, and we eat at one table. We light this candle in Peace.
On this day, we remember the Lord of All who brings peace surpassing all understanding.
Advent 3 – Joy
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ, and we lit the candle of Peace, remembering God’s dream of a peaceful world. Today we light the third candle of Advent, the candle of Joy. In Advent, we are in a time of waiting. Like the Israelites who wandered through the Wilderness, waiting to come into the Promised Land, we wait for the coming of the Joy of Ages. We wait for the day where we can join our voices with the angels to sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” We wait for the day when everlasting joy will be on each of us.
We light this candle in Joy.
On this day, we remember the Spirit who breathes joy into our lives.
Advent 4 – Love
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ, the candle of Peace, remembering God’s dream of a peaceful world, and the candle of Joy, remembering the Spirit within us who brings joy. Today we light the fourth candle of Advent, the candle of Love.
Scripture tells us “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18). God created this world in love and this world will end in the love of God. God’s love pervades all aspects of this life. From birth to death, pain to delight, strangers to lovers, God’s love is there.
We light this candle in Love.
On this day, we remember God is Love.
Christmas Eve – Light
Throughout this season we have lived, waited, and remembered the hope, peace, joy, and love of God found in Christ. Tonight we gather together and light candles in honor of the Christ Child.
With the birth of Christ, salvation has drawn near. The God who ordered the chaos of the universe has come down into the chaos of our world. The Word which was with God at the beginning came down and lived with us. While we were yet living in the valley of the shadow of death, the light of new life burst forth. We light this candle for Christ.
On this night, we remember God has come in the Christ Child.