Third Week of Advent
Last week we lit two purple candles. Does anyone remember what the signify? What does the first candle that we lit represent? It is called the prophecy candle. It represents the hope that the prophets held out that a Messiah would come to rescue and redeem the people of Israel.
What does the second purple candle represent? It is called the Bethlehem candle and represents preparation. It reminds us of John and how he prepared the way of the Lord. The hope of Israel was coming into the world.
Third Candle - pink
The third candle is traditionally called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” It is seen as marking a time of joy and rejoicing. It is a recognition that the advent season is upon us. So as we celebrate this season of Jesus’ coming, of his arrival we not only have hope and preparation, but this season of hope and preparation produce in us a sense of deep joy and rejoicing.
Why rejoice? Because the King of kings and Lord of lords has come to earth. As we already sang: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” We rejoice because God has come. The king has become a servant. And he has come as the suffering servant so that we may have life through his death. Listen to the words of Zechariah foretelling of the coming king:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Zechariah 9:9-10
Remember what happened to the Shepherds? Luke 2:9-11 “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This good news of great joy is for all people - and it is the good news that the long expected Savior has come. Immanuel, God with us. And he is Christ the Lord!
And as we read last week in Galatians 4:3-7 there is great joy because through Christ we who were once slaves to sin and now sons and daughters of God the Father.
Read Galatians 4:3-7
So as we continue to prepare and celebrate the hope of Christ’s first coming let us also rejoice in the fact that it is already done. He has come. He completed the work he came to do. And if you are in Christ you receive the benefits of sonship - you are now a son or daughter of the living God because he came down at Christmas. This should bring us joy. This should cause us to rejoice.
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