As a reminder for our candles of advent series, we’ve covered the different candles the church lights weekly, starting with the first week in December, and leading up to the week of Christmas.
Churches will typically adorn an Advent wreath during December. Four candles decorate the outer edges of the wreath, and one white candle sits in the middle. The church will light one of the candles each week, and on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, will light the candles in the center.
These candles remind us of the attributes of God we use during our anticipation of Christ’s coming: his first coming for Christmas and his long-awaited second coming.
As a summary, these were the past few candles of Advent:
In the final week of Advent, churches will light two candles. We’ll discuss the fourth and fifth Advent candles in this article: the candle of love and the Christ candle.
What Is the Candle of Love?
Before we dive into this, we should keep in mind, some church traditions vary on which candle goes on which Sunday. Some may light the “love candle” on the second Sunday of Advent instead of the fourth. Others have lit the candle of Peace on the fourth week of Advent instead of the candle of love.
Or, as stated in this article, some churches will light a candle of faith on the second Sunday instead of a candle of peace.
No matter what the church tradition, we can assuredly know that virtues such as love, hope, peace, joy, and faith are important in the Christmas story as well as in our daily walk with Christ. Whichever we celebrate on whatever Sunday of Advent, we know all of them are important hallmarks of the Christian faith and journey.
With that being said, let’s dive into the symbolism of the love candle. Otherwise known as the Angel candle, this candle can represent purity.
We see the other candles representing a part of the Christmas story in addition to virtues.
- Week One - The prophecies about the coming Messiah
- Week Two - Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace
- Week Three - The shepherds who came to see Jesus
- Week Four - The angels who proclaimed the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds
Love, as stated in this article, plays a vital role in the Christmas story. Because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant with what he thought was a child out of wedlock with another man (Matthew 1:18-19). Mary has a natural motherly love for Jesus, and ultimately, we see God’s love for everyone by sending his son for us (John 3:16).
Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth (1 Corinthians 13:13).
What Does the Bible Say about Love?
Not surprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say about love.
Depending on your translation, the word appears 100-300 times throughout Scripture. It makes sense. God is love (1 John 4). They know we are Christians by our love (1 Corinthians 13:1). Love sacrificed Jesus’ son for our sins.
We cannot walk with Christ without it, and we cannot have the Christmas story without it. As Linus states in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Some churches, on Christmas or the Sunday after Christmas, will remove the other candles and leave the Christ candle, showing that the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). In other words, the law the Jews followed in the Old Testament, the sinful nature of man, all of it has passed away and Christ has brought the new covenant, a new promise of salvation.
Often, churches will make the Christ candle larger than the rest to show that Christ is the reason for the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love that we have. Jesus is the reason for the season.
What Is the Christ Candle?
In addition to the love candle, churches will light the white candle at the center of the wreath on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
The white tends to symbolize Christ’s purity, showing Christ’s blamelessness. We do have to keep in mind, churches can vary on candle colors, and not everyone chooses to light a white candle for Christ.
Not surprisingly, the Christ candle represents Christ and the role he plays in the Christmas story. Jesus brought light into the world through his arrival on earth as a baby.
Why Does This Matter?
We cannot be Christians without Christ and without love.
Otherwise, our works and our purpose on earth are for nothing. We need Christ and Christ’s love to share the Good News of salvation throughout the earth.
Christ connects all the Advent candles. Through him, we can have hope, peace, joy, and love. Without him, why have any of those things? Christ steps down into darkness to light the world (John 8:12). Because of him, we can be a light unto others, showing them the true meaning of Christmas.
Advent Wreath Prayer Week 4 — Love
Heavenly Father, the whole meaning of Christmas can be explained in one little four-letter word…LOVE. You sent your gift of pure love to us that first Christmas. Love descended from heaven to be born of a virgin. Love lay in the scratchy hay of a manger in a meager barn in Bethlehem. All of your love, God, was robed in the delicate skin of a baby and wrapped in swaddling clothes. This final week of Advent helps us to reflect on the magnitude of love that was made manifest in Jesus.
You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Messiah, and Ruler of All, yet you came not as a lion but as a lamb. You came as an innocent baby whose purpose was to walk this earth in complete love and then to sacrificially give your life as an atonement for the sins of your children. Emmanuel. God with us. Love in the form of a man.
There is no greater gift than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. You willingly gave the gift of your life because of your love. Your righteous blood covered our sin. You redeem and restore us when we confess you as Lord and Savior of our life. In that moment, you give us the gift of your love for all eternity. We receive grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy in that moment.
The greatest gift of all came that first Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped in a beautiful package and set under a decorated tree. The greatest gift came wrapped in the flesh of baby Jesus and laid in the rough wood of a manger. Our perfect gift would later be rewrapped in the scars of our sin and nailed to the rugged wood of a cross on Calvary, all because of love.
Father, this final week of Advent, fill our hearts and minds with the significance of that truth. Thank you, Lord, for loving us enough to send Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen
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Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.