The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival" and, when used in conjunction with Christmas, reminds us of the anticipation and expectation held over hundreds of years by the people of Israel for their Messiah and promised King.

Today, we mark Advent in the Christian church with the display of a wreath - its circle reminds us of God Himself, eternal and endlessly merciful. It is evergreen - reminding us of the hope of eternal life.

The four outer candles incorporated into the display represent the time of waiting and preparation for the Messiah during the four Sundays of Advent. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Peace and Joy. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.

The light of the candles reminds us of the Light of world, and the prophetic promise of His coming. The white central candle of the Advent wreath, lighted at Christmas, reminds us of the fulfillment of His first Advent and the pure, humble means by which He came.

Christians today have tasted of His first coming as Savior, experiencing His forgiving grace and saving power. This Church season is also a prime opportunity to affirm the promise of Jesus that just as He came once, He would one day in the future return to the earth as Sovereign Ruler.

The day He ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and gave His disciples peace and comfort with this promise: "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11)

In this Advent season, may we be even more encouraged, hopeful, and purposeful, looking with passion for the second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. May our lives, our thoughts, and our words reflect our desire for the soon-coming return of Jesus, our glorious King!

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