by Johan du Preez
(Roodepoort, South Africa)
When I was requested to light the second candle, meaning Peace, I realised that I know very little regarding the meaning of the advent wreath. I researched it and I want to share some points on it with you, reminding us of the meaning .
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is actually strikingly beautiful.
The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life.
Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning:
The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering;
Pine, holly, and yew, immortality;
and cedar, strength and healing.
Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly.
The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ.
Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Saviour. Four candles are white and one is rose or purple.
The purple candle in the middle symbolizes Jesus, the centre of all.
The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.
The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world.
Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide us a way to augment this special preparation for Christmas. Moreover, this good tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
Thank you lord Jesus that we can be reminded of all these beautiful things in our lives. As we now read your Word, we ask that You would remind us, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We pray that the words spoken and the thought in our hearts would be acceptable to You.
Read Isaiah 11:1-10
When we think of God's love, we might not always think of the words of the prophets. But when we read this picture of the peaceable kingdom, we are amazed by God's love that allows a child to lead.
But lets look a bit deeper into this passage…. A bit of background around the text:
One of the last things the kingdom of Judah saw before being taken captive was the sight of their king being blinded and put into chains. The mention of the "stump of Jesse" is the reminder of a decimated family that holds the royal line.
The promise that a sprout shall spring from it — which of itself is miraculous — is a prophecy about the continuation of the royal line. Thus, the royal line of David is like a royal tree that has been cut down; but just as new branches sprout from a stump, so a new king will arise from David’s descendants.
The new situation that this beginning will bring about is nothing less than Peace. Peace is described in this prophecy as the harmony that exists between all. The whole point of the prophecy is that with the restoration of the rightful king’s line, which was broken during the Fall of Judah in the 6th c, peace will also be restored.
The connection between king and peace is ancient. God gives peace through his chosen king, David.
The Messiah will be the bringer of the peace — the Shalom — that He alone can give.
The peace as only the Lion and the lamb can bring
Master watercolor artist Will Bullas who, in his words, “makes fine art fun,” portrays Isaiah 11 as the lion and the lamb sitting at a bar together drinking martinis in his painting titled, “Peaceable Kingdom with Two Olives.”
It’s Absurd I know, ……..but is it really?...
No. I’m not suggesting that the lion and the lamb will go out for a drink, but this has a much more profound message..
Who are the people in our world who need the message of God's love?
Who needs to hear: For God so loved the world?
How can people today receive the message of God's love?
How do we help others to know God's love?
There is a promise of paradise – In Isaiah already….
How are we going to share this promise of love and peace with others?
How: Can I make some suggestions? – You might want to write this down …………
Monday, December 5, 2011: Read again Isaiah 11:1-10.
Think of all you see in the world around you that God has created. Create a picture of God's kingdom of peace in your mind. Now, give thanks for the world and all people in the world.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of God's love? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today. E-mail or SMS will also work, BBM, Facebook, Whatsapp, they will all relay God’s love to someone, the bottom line…. make the effort.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011: Love is something we need in our church. Think about the people in our church. Select one person in our church. Pray for that person today. It is so easy – one single prayer for God’s love and peace.
Thursday, December 8, 2011: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. Pray, asking God's help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.
Friday, December 9, 2011: Think about your family. Some may live with you. Others may be far away. Who in your family needs God's love? Pray for this family member today.
Saturday, December 10, 2011: There are people in our neighbourhoods, in our church, and in our community who need to know of God's love. Select someone to visit today. Visit by phone or in person. Go as a family or by yourself. It doesn't necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone who waits on you at the grocery store. Stop by today and talk with that person. Tell the person you visit one way he or she brings peace to you.
As I was preparing this message, I was wondering how to “kick-start” this process of spreading the message of God’s love for all.
On the way home on Monday afternoon, Gerard and myself stopped for some stuff at the Chinese friends and there it was...
The purple strands reminds us that it was Jesus, at the bottom is the heart, reminding us of His love and at the centre of the heart is the cross, the sign of what He endured for us…
There is a catch to this… I am going to hand these out, but instead of keeping them as a reminder, I would like for you to pass it on to someone else during the coming week, to remind someone else that Jesus loves them too and if I may ask, talk to them about the symbolism and the reality.
Once again – the purple is for Jesus, the heart His Love and obviously the cross what He did for us out of love.
May God bless you, whilst you bless others with this wonderful message of love and hope.
Shall we pray?
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words found in our Bible that help us remember your love and care. Help us see how we can bring God's message to the people we meet in our schools, at our jobs, and in our neighbourhoods. Help us be messengers of God's love for everyone. We are to spread your love and peace in this world. Sometimes we find it extremely difficult, as all around us there is just doom and gloom and despair… But with you and You with us, we find refreshed hope and love and we thank you for that. We are merely returning the love that you felt and had for us first, whilst we were still sinners. Lord God, as we depart to our homes, many of us will start on long journeys to our holiday destinations and we ask for safe travelling mercies, for hands steady on the wheel, for alertness of any dangers that we may have to pass. May all your people rest and come back refreshed and re-charged, ready to go for another year at DMC and for You
I also have a personal and special request this evening Lord, for a wondrous blessing this festive season for the Flock of DMC. Please bless not only the Sheppard and his family, but also the sheep and their little ones. We know that the blessings of Abraham is also for us and Lord I request those blessings, given a long time ago, for the congregation of DMC
Thank You Lord
In the name of Jesus I pray.
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