advent candle readings
Why Christians Light Candles for Advent
Jesus is the light of the world and we light Advent candles to signify this. It’s also a way to build anticipation for the celebration of the first coming of Jesus. Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day, families light a candle and conduct a themed advent reading.
The closer one gets to Christmas, the more the candles get lit, and the brighter it shines. Advent moves us through the prophecies about Christ, to the hope he provides, to the joy he brings, and the love he gives. As we move through each week, the wreath glows brightly with significance. Let’s take a look at the different advent candle colors and their beautiful meaning and symbolism.
The First Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Hope
The first Sunday of Advent leads our hearts to Hope. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. This week is a time for us to reflect on what it must have been like to feel the depth of God’s silence during the period between the Old Testament and New.
It is a time to ponder the prophecies about the promised Messiah. We begin the season with a mindset that creates hope in our hearts.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone (Isaiah 9:2).
For to us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall 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, on 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 forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Second Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Preparation
On the second Sunday of Advent, we light the Hope candle and then we light the Preparation candle. First, hope blooms as we realize the prophecies about the Messiah are true. Then we begin to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord Jesus.
Imagine how Joseph must have rushed to prepare the crude stable for Mary and the soon-to-be-born Jesus. As we rush through the season of buying gifts and attending parties, may we pause and reflect on the words of Isaiah:
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).
The Third Sunday of Advent’s Pink Candle Signifies Joy
The third Sunday of Advent brings us to Joy. The color pink represents rejoicing. We light the previous two purple candles and then light this week’s pink one. Rejoicing is our response to the Good News — joy that our Messiah has come.
The light of the world sweeps away the darkness in our world and in our hearts. We seek him and, in joy, find him.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
The Fourth Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Love
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we reach the culmination of Love. The Messiah comes in love and righteousness. The angels filled the sky with the greatest news of love.
They visited the lowest of the lows in Jewish society, the shepherds, with the most amazing birth announcement. This love is no respecter of persons but is for all who receive. As we light the four candles, we ponder,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).
Why Some Add a Fifth White Candle
A fifth candle is an optional addition to the traditional advent celebration and represents Christ. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve. The color white stands for purity, light, and victory.
Jesus is pure — without sin and because of his sacrifice he makes us white as snow. He is the light in the darkness and the victor over sin and death. We have life because of him.
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).