We come to the symbolism of the candles. If you will notice, on the outside there are three lavender or purple candles. Historically, the primary color of Advent is purple. This is the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. Zechariah 9:9, and 10b, states, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey . . . He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
The four outer candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope, or in some traditions Prophecy, and it draws our attention to the anticipation, or the hope, of the coming Messiah. In Romans 15:12-13, the apostle Paul told believers this: “And again, Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.’ Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Did you hear how Paul kept making reference to hope? Advent is about our hope in God’s salvation through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Part of this hope can be observed in how God revealed to His prophets that He would not leave His people without a Shepherd, and we see this hope portrayed in Isaiah chapter 40: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people! says your God . . . The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God . . . The glory of theLord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken . . . Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:1, 3, 5, 10-11a).
The second candle represents Peace, and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was foretold as the coming Prince of Peace. We read in Micah 5:2, and 4-5, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting . . . And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace.” Isaiah 9:6 declares, “For unto us a Child is born, unto 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.”
The third candle of Advent is the candle of Joy. It reminds us of the joy that Mary felt when the angel Gabriel told her that a special child would be born unto her – a child who would save and deliver His people. In Luke 2:10-14, we read this: “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” Isaiah 12:3-4 foretold of the day when the Messiah would appear that, “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!” (v. 3).
The fourth candle of Advent, the pink candle, is the Candle of Love. The light of this pink candle is meant to remind us of the love that God has for each one of us. Isaiah 63:8b-9, says, “So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.” 1 John 4:9, says, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him,” and John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We then come to the final candle, or the center candle, which is called the Christ candle. The Christ candle will be lit during our Christmas Eve service. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. The light reminds us that Jesus comes into the darkness of our lives to bring us newness, life, and hope. Most significantly, the lighting of the Christ candle reminds us that Jesus has indeed come and is amongst us.