This is the first week of Advent. (I’m a little late in posting this) Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of HOPE.
The frazzled man shook a fist full of pink and white, long tapered candles at the cashier, “I can’t find the purple advent candles? Where are the purple ones?” She looked a bit confused as she replied, “Um, we don’t sell Advent candles, just regular candles.” He huffed a bit and continued, “But you have these, why not the purple ones?” “Sir” she replied, “those are just normal candles.” He dejectedly set his collection of candles on the counter to check out, obviously resigned to having to make another stop at a different store for the precious purple candles.
The color of the candles in the advent wreath are typically purple, with one pink for the “love week” and an optional white candle for Christmas Eve. Of course, you do not HAVE to have those colors and you do not always need to light a candle..the point is in the pausing and contemplation. The commemoration of looking forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth. It is a time of expectation and preparation.
As I made my way to the next available cashier, I watched him walk away like a man on mission. I have no doubt he would not be returning to his home without the required purple candles. While we no longer have an actual advent wreath in our home, with said candles to be lit, I easily recall the years I too went in search of purple candles.
Each Christmas season I would unpack our boxes filled with holiday décor to find my advent candles misshaped or broken. (I was never very careful when storing them.) One year I just inserted any candles I had in the house. That was the year our advent wreath sported pretty forest green and burgundy candles.
We all have some sort of traditions or expectations when it comes to Christmas in our homes. When our expectations are not met, it is often hard to reconcile our reality with what we had hoped would take place.
I saw a church sign a while back that said, “You Can Not Hope Backward”. I did not understand it at the time, but now I recognize the treasure of this truth.
I struggle to let go of the past at times, especially if things did not go as I had planned or expected. I want to wrestle with those events and make sense of them. I spend too much time with phrases like, “If only”, “I wish that went differently”, “What if”, and “I should have” rolling around in my head. I can’t HOPE things HAD been different.
Hope is a forward thing. Hope is what we have when we cling to the promise of what is to come. Hope is looking to what the new day brings. Hope is knowing that anything is possible. Hope is what we find in the birth of Jesus Christ. He brings hope for forgiveness, hope for eternal life, and the hope of HIs return.
Maybe you will have a purple candle to light this year, maybe you will light a bright red candle, or perhaps like myself, you will simply bow your head before a battery operated flickering fake candle…but let us each take the time to stop and thank our God for the Hope we have through the birth of His son, our savior, Christ Jesus.
“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more…Who is like You? Though You have made me see troubles…You will again bring me up…I will sing praise to You, I whom You have redeemed.” Psalm 71:14-25