Thursday, December 06, 2018

Advent Message

Dear Friends in Christ,

Advent is almost here,and one of the traditions we have in the Church is the use of the Advent
wreath. Four colored candles(three blue,one pink)are nestled within the green wreath itself,with a
white candle seated in the center. Each Sunday in Advent an additional candle is lit,until all five candles
burn brightly on Christmas Eve to welcome Jesus,the true light who has come into the world.(John 1:9)
There are two different traditions as to the meaning of the individual candles on the Advent wreath.
For our Sunday sermons in Advent this year we will use the one that fits most closely with our Old
Testament readings.

The first candle(blue)is the Candle of Hope. Just as the promise of a Savior,the righteous Branch
from the stem of Jesse(Jeremiah 33:14-16)brought hope to God's people in their exile in Babylon,so the
coming of that Savior,the one who will reign on the throne of David forever(Luke 1:32-33),has brought
hope to sinners separated from their true home in heaven through the exile of sin.

The second candle(blue)is the Candle of Preparation. At the end of the Old Testament God
promised to send His messenger to prepare the way before Him. (Malachi 3:1) Four hundred years later,
the Word of God came to John the Baptizer in the wilderness,and he began proclaiming a baptism ofrepentance for the forgiveness of sins. John was the Messenger. He prepared the way for Jesus. The
second candle reminds us also to be prepared,through God's gift of repentance and faith,when Jesus
comes again in glory.

The third candle(pink)is the Candle of Joy. One of the all-time favorite Christmas hymns is"Joy to
the World"(LSB 387). We sing of the joy that the coming of Jesus brings to us and to all creation.
Zephaniah 3:17 has a little different take on the joy of Christ's coming. At Jesus'coming,says Zephaniah,
it will be said to God's people,"Fear not,O Zion...The LORD your God is in your midst,a mighty onewho will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over
you with loud singing." Jesus'coming to save us brings joy to God!Now He can have us with Him in
heaven forever!

The fourth candle(blue)is the Candle of Love. This is the hardest candle to fit with the Old
Testament lessons.The lesson for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is from Micah,promising that the Christwill be born in Bethlehem(Micah 5:2). Yet it also talks about the Savior as the one who"shall stand and
shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord." (Micah 5:4)"The King of Love My Shepherd Is." (LSB709) And of course,why did God send His Son to be born? He"so loved the world that He gave His oneand only Son." (John 3:16)

The center candle (white)is the Christ Candle. Lit first on Christmas Eve,it celebrates the coming
of Jesus,the Light of the World.Jesus,who came once in our human flesh and blood as a tiny babe in
Bethlehem's manger,is present with us in His Word and Sacraments as we journey through this life onour way to our true home in heaven. He promises to come again in glory to take us to that heavenly
home. Whoever follows Jesus will not walk in darkness,but will have the light of life.(John 8:12b)
God give you HOPE this Advent season as you PREPARE to celebrate with JOY the LOVE of

CHRIST our Savior!
Pastor Merrill

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