You might hear the word “advent” during the Christmas season. What is it? Why is it important in church life? Advent simply means, “coming,” and lyrics like “Let every heart prepare Him room” underscore its point. Wait intentionally - something Bethlehem failed to do. Everyone on planet Earth waits, and we all wait differently: in boredom or busyness. Like Lent challenges us to live with less while waiting for Resurrection Sunday at Easter, Advent at Christmas challenges us to wait with purpose for God’s only Begotten Son. And so should we all year - waiting expectantly for His second coming.
How shall we wait? Make room! Every week at First Baptist, look for another candle lit to the right of the stage. Let it be a subtle reminder to wait expectantly, and make every effort to “prepare Him room” in our hearts this Christmas Day. Pray while waiting for the service to start in the pew. Contemplate the lyrics of our Christmas carols in worship. Read select scriptures at home with family. For example, the Bible’s book of Luke has twenty-four chapters. Reading one chapter each day in December will strengthen the meaning of Christmas related to the gospel when you wake up December 25th, Christmas morning. Reading Luke teaches that Jesus was born as a man and grew as a man who sinned not, but willingly became our sin on a cross so that He might save sinners just like you and me.
What do these candles represent? According to different traditions, the four outer candles symbolize either various people involved in the Christmas Nativity (the shepherds, Mary [the pink candle], the Angels, and the Wise Men) or Christmas themes expressed in the Christmas story (peace, hope, joy, and love). Both traditions are fitting because every candle that is lit each week builds more of the plot to God’s beautiful Christmas story. And by doing so, it builds more anticipation the closer we come to lighting the central white Christ candle that symbolizes completely God is with us and is made manifest in the birth of Jesus Christ!