The Bethlehem Candle
The Bethlehem candle urges us to the place where the Promised One was born:
Let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.
It reminds us of the promise which He brought with Him to that place:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders; and His name will be called Prince of Peace; and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.
The light of this candle acknowledges the purpose of His advent:
For the Lord God of Israel has raised up a horn of salvation for us, to guide our feet into the way of peace. He Himself is our peace. He came and preached peace to us who were far away, and peace to those who are near:
Because of His coming we who greet Him in Bethlehem can join with the heavenly hosts in proclaiming:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.
The candle also symbolizes His work begun at His first advent and yet to be completed at His next advent:
For in the last days He will judge between the nations; and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little Child will lead them.
Until then, the Coming One has taught us to follow Him and be about His Father’s business:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
So, the Bethlehem candle of peace, like the small village it represents, teaches and encourages us that the potential result of individual deeds of peace is not limited by size of origin:
As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are too little to be counted among the clans of Judah, but from you One will come forth to be ruler in Israel for Me. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. And of His kingdom there will be no end.
The Shepherd’s Candle
This candle points us to the first people to learn of the Promised One’s birth — common shepherds:
There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. But where are the wise, the scribes, the debaters of this age? There were not many wise, many strong, nor many noble; for God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong; He has chosen the common and despised things, and the things that are not, in order to nullify the things that are, so that no one should boast before God.
This candle reminds us that on the first Christmas night shepherds discovered and worshipped the great and good Shepherd:
The shepherds said, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has told us.” They left quickly and discovered the Babe lying in a manger. Years later, the Babe declared, “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. I lay down My life for the sheep.”
The good Shepherd calls us today, as He did them that night, to come discover and follow Him:
“I am the Door into the fold of the sheep; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. I am the good Shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me. My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall become one flock with one Shepherd.”
The Shepherds’ candle, therefore teaches why we join our voices with common shepherds of long ago and joyfully exclaim:
Rejoice! Shout for joy! Look, our King is coming to us! He comes triumphant and victorious, but humble and riding on a donkey. Thus saith the Lord, “I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them and He shall be their Shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God.” Therefore, rejoice and shout; for behold, the King comes to us! He is the righteous Savior.
The Angels’ Candle
Throughout eternity angels worship the Promised One:
All the angels stand round about the throne and fall before the throne on their faces, and worship God, saying: “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor; and power; and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.”
Angels work as messengers for the Promised One:
An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the gravestone and sat upon it. The angel said to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus Who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”
The advent candle we light today signifies most importantly that angelic announcement which broke into creation’s silence:
“Glory to God in the highest! On earth, peace among people with whom He is pleased!”
This candle also reminds us that angels will accompany the Promised One at His next advent:
This same Jesus, Who has been taken up from us into heaven, will come in just the same way as the disciples watched Him go into heaven. He will send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Therefore, this candle declares good news and the only gospel worthy of our worship, allegiance, and very lives:
The angel proclaims: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!”
The Christ Candle
During the past four weeks the advent wreath has called us to prepare for the Promised One’s coming. The four candles have taught us of His first advent and they continue to teach us of His next advent:
The prophecy candle of hope anticipates the fulfilled promise of His coming. The Bethlehem candle of peace urges us to the unexpected place and nature of His coming. The common shepherds’ candle of joy celebrates His coming. The angels’ candle of declaration announced to all the good news of His coming.
Promise now climaxes in fulfillment — peace is now available — joy is experienced! The Promised One has come! The new, bright red candles proclaim a newness of life and a joy unending:
Rejoice and sing! Now it can be exclaimed: if any person is in Him, that person is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come!
The central location of the Christ candle teaches us of His rightful place as the Center of our lives;
He who loves father or mother or son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of Him; and he who does not take up his cross daily and follow after Him is not worthy of Him.
The white color reflects the purity of His life:
He is the only One Who can command, “Be ye holy even as I am holy.” He is the only One who also can offer, “Come now and let us reason together. Even though your sins may be as scarlet and red like crimson, I can make you white as snow and wool.”
The One for Whom we have prepared, awaited, and prayed, has come. Light His candle of salvation and tell the world:
He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. We call Him Jesus, because He saves usd from our sins!

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