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The First Week of Advent - the Candle of Hope

Also known as the “prophecy candle,” the candle of hope for Advent assures us we can have hope that God will fulfill the prophecies declared in the Old Testament about Jesus. Hope doesn’t disappoint us (Romans 5:5).

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Updated Nov 10, 2023
The First Week of Advent - the Candle of Hope

Most churches will have an advent wreath, holding four candles on the outside, and a candle in the center. Churches will light a new candle each week, leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas or Christmas Eve, light the center candle.

Each candle tends to represent something such as hope, joy, etc. This article will highlight the first candle of advent: the candle of hope.

The First Week and Sunday of Advent

The first week of Advent and the first Sunday of Advent mark the beginning of the Advent season in the Christian liturgical calendar. Advent is a period of preparation and anticipation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Each of the four weeks of Advent has a specific theme, and the first week typically centers around the theme of "Hope" or "Expectation."

  1. First Sunday of Advent: On the first Sunday of Advent, Christians light the first candle on the Advent wreath, which is often purple or blue in color. This candle is called the "Hope" or "Prophet's Candle," symbolizing the anticipation of the coming Messiah and the hope that He brings to the world. The Scripture readings and prayers during this week often focus on the prophecies in the Old Testament about the promised Savior and the expectation of His arrival.

  2. First Week of Advent: Throughout the first week of Advent, Christians reflect on the theme of hope and the idea that Christ's coming into the world brings hope to a world in need of salvation. It's a time for believers to meditate on the prophecies in the Bible, such as those in the book of Isaiah, that foretell the birth of the Messiah. The liturgical color associated with this week is typically purple or blue, symbolizing anticipation, penance, and preparation.

In addition to lighting the Advent wreath candles and engaging in specific Scripture readings and prayers, many churches and individuals use this time to begin their Advent devotions and preparations, both spiritually and practically, for the Christmas season. It's a time of waiting with hope and faith for the coming of Christ, not only in remembrance of His historical birth but also in anticipation of His coming again in glory.

The History of the Advent Wreath

The Catholic church adopted this tradition during the Middle Ages, as a way to prepare the hearts and minds for Christmas. The word advent itself comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “arrival.” We prepare for the arrival of Christ. The wreath itself represents eternity and everlasting life, a circle that never ends (John 3:16).

Some have traced the origin of Advent as far back as the 4th or 5th century, but most would agree that the advent we’ve come to know now, symbols and all, started from the Middle Ages onward to the 1800s. 

As for the other candles, they have important symbolic elements as well. Three purple candles, a pink candle, and a white candle adorn the outside and center of the wreath. We’ll focus on the first purple candle: the candle of hope. 

The Candle of Hope

Like the prophets in the Old Testament, we hope for a Messiah to save us from the sin in the world (Isaiah 9:6-7). We anticipate our Savior’s arrival.

Also known as the “prophecy candle,” this candle assures us we can have hope that God will fulfill the prophecies declared in the Old Testament about Jesus. Hope doesn’t disappoint us (Romans 5:5). 

In this day and age, where evil abounds and all seems lost, we can also hope that the prophecies about Jesus’ second arrival to earth will also be fulfilled. 

The somber purple color on the candle represents repentance and fasting as we anticipate the Lord’s coming. Purple doubles as a color for royalty throughout the Bible, symbolizing God’s kingship and reign. 

Get your FREE copy of 25 Days of Advent Devotionals and Readings! Print these and share them with family and friends to keep your mind's attention and heart's affection on Jesus this holiday season.

Biblical Hope

Christians can often confuse the word hope for wishful thinking. If we hope something will happen, we have no control over whether or not it will take place. 

But the biblical sense of hope is very different. Hope, in the Bible, exists as a secure assurance, a trust placed in a trustworthy God. God has not failed us in the past, and therefore, if he claims he will do something in the future, we can have a hope that he will fulfill that claim. 

Hope waits and endures. It isn’t flimsy or merely wishful thinking. It can withstand fire, trials, and despair. 

Why Does This Matter?

Hope is an important thing. It helps us during significant trials or times of distress. It offers us security that God will arrive and though we cannot see him now, we will see him face to face one day (Hebrews 11). 

In lieu of advent, it helps us to recognize the hope the Israelites experienced throughout the Old Testament, especially during the time of the prophets, such as Isaiah. They yearned for a Messiah to save them from their enemies, and ultimately, the greatest enemy: their sin.

Like the prophets, we also hope. We hope Jesus will return soon to this dark and despairing world. 

Advent Wreath Prayer Week 1 — Hope

Heavenly Father, Advent is a time for remembering and reflecting on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Father, I pray that you will turn our hearts toward you as Christmas approaches. Let us not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season this year and miss the chance to celebrate the gifts of hope, peace, joy, love, that you sent to us on that first Christmas.

Father God, every word in scripture points to the gift of hope that we have because of Christ Jesus. The Christmas story wasn’t the beginning of that message of hope because the old testament is full of glimpses of your plan to redeem your people and restore them into a relationship with you, but we are able to truly begin to see and understand just how great your love for us is when we read the story of Jesus’ birth in scripture.

You showed us a glimmer of that hope as you chose to send your son into this earth through a family tree that was a little bent and scarred.  We glanced it again as you chose a tribe that was small and a city that was lowly. It can be seen when we recognize that you don’t send your Son to be birthed in a fancy palace among the wealthy and the elite, but our King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born among common shepherds and livestock in a barn.

Help us to see that you are with us. Nothing is too difficult, too messy, or too dirty for you. Jesus came to give us the gift of eternal life through the salvation that only you, our Heavenly Father, can give when we believe on your Son, repent of our sins, and confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior. 

That first Christmas, you gave us the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Thank you, Father, for your immeasurable gift. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen

Scriptures to Read: Isaiah 11:1, Matthew 1:22, Matthew 2:6, Micah 5:2, Luke 2:8, Isaiah 7:14, John 1:14, Romans 6:23, Jeremiah 29:11, Acts 5:31, 2 Corinthians 9:15, Acts 5:31

Related: What Is the Candle of Peace for Advent? Week 2

Photo Credit:©iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani


Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, book editor for hire, and the author of almost 30 books. More than 1500 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids. Check out her editing profile at Reedsy.com to find out about hiring her for your next book project.


This article is part of our larger Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ!

What Is Advent: Definition & Meaning Behind Christmas Tradition
Advent Bible Verses
Advent Readings
Advent Wreath and Candles Meaning and Symbolism
Advent Prayers

Advent Week 1: The Candle of Hope ~ First Sunday of Advent Prayers and Readings
Advent Week 2: The Candle of Peace ~ Second Sunday of Advent Prayers and Readings
Advent Week 3: The Candle of Joy ~ Third Sunday of Advent Prayers and Readings
Advent Week 4: The Candle of Love ~ Fourth Sunday of Advent Prayers and Readings

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