“The Symbolism of Christmas”
I suppose that to many of us there are many things that speak to us about Christmas. However, to me personally, there is one symbol that brings Christmas close to me and that is ‘The Advent Wreath’. If you do the research on this tradition, you will get a broad perspective on its history and meaning. You can check that out for yourself. In this meditation, I want to focus on the significance of the wreath and what it means to me as an evangelical Christian.
In John 3:17-21, Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And, this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
Folks, Jesus is the light of the world. He has provided a way of escape from our world of darkness. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 5:8 declared, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” For those of us who have a personal faith relationship with Jesus, the candles on the wreath point to Him as the Light of the World.
The evergreen wreath speaks to us of the new and everlasting life that we have by trusting in Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus said “… I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In verse 11, He said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
The wreath was frequently seen as a symbol of victory. In a number of the sports contests, the victor was given a garland wreath. We read of our victory in 1 John 5:4-5 —“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And, this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is He who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” In Romans 8:37, the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
So, we see that the wreath speaks to us of the life and victory we have by trusting in Christ. In Revelation 2:10, our LORD declared, “Do not fear any of these things that you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
We do not know what trials and tests we will go through but one thing we do know is we will be victorious if keep our focus on Christ. It seems that even though there are numbers of interpretations of the Advent Wreath, the four candles speak of the four weeks prior to Christmas which are to be a time of penitence and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
There is usually a fifth, white candle, in the midst of the wreath that is called the Christ candle. We should never forget that Christmas is about Christ. In these days of super commercialism and getting just the right gift for someone, we need to remember that Christ is God the Father’s gift to us.
John 3:16 puts it clearly, “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.”
Let me give you what is the usual interpretation of the four candles. The first is called the Prophesy or Hope candle. We are reminded of God’s promise throughout the Old Testament that He would send a Messiah or Shepherd to save His people. The second candle is usually called the Bethlehem candle and sometimes the Peace candle. It was prophesied that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)
The third candle has frequently been called the Shepherd’s candle and even the Joy candle. In Luke 2:10, the angel said to the Shepherds — “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Are you experiencing the joy of the Lord because your sins have been forgiven and you have been accepted into God’s family through faith in Christ? (Ephesians 1:6)
Lastly, the fourth candle is known as the Angel candle or the Love candle. We frequently read in the Scriptures of the good news that angels brought in different settings. Listen to the good news that angel Gabriel brought to a young woman in Nazareth – Luke 1:35-37, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
In closing, let me remind you that the word, “Advent” means “Coming”. Jesus came the first time just as was promised and folks Jesus will come again as was promised. In John 14, Jesus said He was going back to the Father’s house to prepare a place for us (His followers) and in verse three, He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate Christ’s first coming and you anticipate His coming again.
A CHRISTMAS LETTER
Dear Jubilee Family and Friends,
Warmest greetings to each of you. Usually, this time of year, Joyce and I have a special Christmas letter ready and in the mail. In the last few months, Joyce’s health has changed to the point that it is difficult for her to go anywhere, except our doctors. She misses church terribly and is making every effort to attend. Her interest in Jubilee is keener than ever. She devours our newsletter, pours over our prayer list and quizzes me daily about what is happening.
Both of us are so aware of your praying for us. We are deeply grateful for your many kindnesses in meals, cards and different ways you express your love. Thank you from the depths of our hearts. In all that is happening, we are experiencing God’s faithfulness.
We have much to praise Him for. Our children and their families are doing well and serving the LORD for which we are most grateful. In September, we were blessed with our first great-grandchild … a little girl named Evie. So far, we have just seen pictures, but look forward to holding her, loving her and spoiling her.
Since our children and their families live at least 1100 miles from us, Jubilee is our family and we love each of you dearly and deeply. We pray that each of you will have the most blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May your hearts be full of His love, peace and joy.
Leonard and Joyce