Learn how the church marks each Sunday during the Christmas season in preparation for and in celebration of the birth day of Christ.
Many churches and families use an advent wreath to aid in the celebration of Christmas. An advent wreath includes five candles. There are four candles, one for each Sunday leading to Christmas and a fifth candle for Christmas day. The four Sunday candles are usually tapers. There are variations in the coloring of the candles, often there are three purple and one pink candle. Occasionally, all of the candles are purple. The central candle is usually a large white pillar candle.
The purple represents repentance. The pink symbolizes joy. The central candle is called the Christ candle and is not lit until Christmas day. When you light the candle it is customary to read a few verses of scripture that relate to meaning of the candle. Often the person who lights the candle recites a short statement of belief and faith as the candle is lit and then everyone unites in prayer.
The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope)
The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the First Candle
Prophetic Verse: Arise, shine; For you light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60: 1-3
The Fulfillment of Prophecy: ‘Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Mathew 24:44
The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way)
The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Second Candle
Leading Us to the Kingdom of Heaven: “In those days, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come now.” Matthew 3: 1-2
Jesus’ Proclamation of His Purpose: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14: 6
The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy)
The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Third Candle
Prophetic Verse: “and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35: 10
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “Then as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olive, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” Luke 19: 37-38
The Ultimate Completion of Prophecy: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”
The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace)
The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Fourth Candle
Prophetic Verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6-7
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “…the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 78b-79
“And when the parents brought in the Christ Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to bring revleation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2: 27b-32
The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle)
The fifth candle represents Christ himself who is born to save people from their sins. It is a celebration of the fulfillment of prophecy as represented in Christ’s birth and hope in the final fulfillment when Christ comes again and Christians join him.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Fifth Candle
Prophetic Verse: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as on the day of Mid’ian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:2-7
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “…a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
A Blessing: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2