Candle Four: Represents the light we once extinguished as God breathed his last breath on the cross. Bruised, beaten, and nailed to the cross, Jesus summoned his last ounce of life to tell us,“It is finished.” God’s rescue was complete. His covenant with his chosen was restored. Forgiveness so complete, we are forgiven even when we do not know not what we do.
The Gospel was always about God pursuing us, providing a way back into relationship with him and fulfilling the covenants he made with Adam, Noah, Moses, Jacob and now all of mankind. He was sent to restore us to himself. The culmination of God’s love for us cost him his son. In this plan of rescue, God had to forsake his own son and turn his back on what we had done to him as Jesus became obedient unto the death we deserved.
From the manger to the cross, all Jesus had accomplished culminated with those three words, “It is finished.” How awesome that Jesus was willing to live the life we could never live and pay the price we could never pay so that we can be in communion with him forever. We light this candle in remembrance of God’s sacrifice for us and the restoration of the plan we had with God in the garden of Eden.
The message of Advent is that since the time of the garden, God has been on a rescue mission. The Bible is the Gospel story of God pursuing us. He did not stop after man sinned and was cast out of the garden. He pursued Noah and saved his family. He did not stop with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or David. He is faithful and does not stop pursuing you when you become a Lutheran. Even when you daily chose sin and your own idols over him, or when you doubt his faithfulness, God is there calling you by name. He does not stop pursuing you if you are marginal in your faith, or if you hide your sin behind your outward works or disguise an empty heart of worship. Simply, he pursues you because he chose you. These candles can remind us of the covenant God has made with us and the promise of his faithfulness.
THE WREATH: The wreath itself is a circle. It begins with God creating us and loving us. In spite of that love, we choose our own gods and fall away. God pursues us, redeems us and restores us to himself and makes us new creatures. In adoration for all God has done, we worship and adore Christ and raise him above everything else in our lives. Our sin is eclipsed by the work of Christ with him in the center of our lives. Our sin no longer enslaves us; we are free to worship as God intended. Christ rules and reigns victorious.
Romans 8:37:No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Go to the source for some interesting history of the Advent wreath.
Advent is not pre-Christmas, you have been told. Advent is not a series of mini-celebrations of Christ’s birth. It is a season where we focus on repenting of our sins and on waiting for the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory and the Babe of Bethlehem.
Do the demands of celebrating Christmas make it hard to celebrate the season of Advent properly? Then consider this:
But Christ wasn’t born of Mary to burden you with more stress than you already have. He was born of the Virgin so that He might carry all your burdens to the cross. The Word of God didn’t become flesh to add more guilt to an already guilt-ridden season. He became flesh to take away your guilt by forgiving your sins through the shedding of His blood. And because the Jesus Christ at the heart of Christmas is also at the heart of the Advent season, His mercy and forgiveness always can and always will give comfort to those who hear His Word during the time of the Church year when we prepare for His arrival.
So if stress from Black Friday is still with you come Sunday,
pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Listen to the Gospel reading about Christ’s triumphal entry. Listen to God’s Word tell you about His Son arriving in Jerusalem as your king, as the One who now rules you in mercy and love through His Word and Sacraments.
This is the Jesus who did more than stand in a crowded line at four in the morning to give you His gifts. This is the Jesus who won the gifts of eternal life and salvation for you through His death on the cross and who now pours them out upon you in the waters of Baptism, in His body and His blood, and in the preached Word. So, on the first Sunday of Advent, when you need to step outside of the Christmas madness, take a moment to hear of Jesus Christ, who is with you now.
Go to the source to read the rest of this excellent article on ways to “Escape the Christmas Madness.”