Today we begin our season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the Advent season, we keep in mind both “advents,” both “visits” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.
Because Christ has already come to us once and brought light into this world, the white Christ candle has already been lit and will be lit the entire Advent season, signifying the light of Christ that shines brightly today.
Our Advent theme this year is “The Rescue.” Although the light of Christ is shining in the world today, the world is still a very dark place and will get darker according to the Bible as we near the end of the age. But, it’s at the height of the darkness, when we the people of God most need rescuing, that Jesus Christ will come again and rescue us.
Today we light the Candle of Hope and take our Scripture from Titus 2:11-14:
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Today we light the CANDLE OF HOPE. This Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we should remember that He came to earth on a rescue mission. He began that rescue by bringing salvation to all who will repent and believe on Him. After living a sinless life, dying on that terrible cross, and rising again from the dead, Jesus now waits for the Father’s signal to come a second time to earth to finish His rescue mission.
We may be tempted to put our hope in many earthly things, but Paul here in Titus tells us that the Second Coming of Jesus is our only blessed hope. Jesus, who came once, will come again to save His people completely.
And so we light the Candle of Hope this morning because we have great hope, the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. We wait for Jesus to come again to finish the rescue that He started on that first Christmas. This morning, we say, “Merry Christmas!” and “Maranatha!” which is an Aramaic expression that means “Come, Lord!”
(Light the 1st purple candle)