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I came across these two excellent paragraphs in an article on Advent by Dennis Bratcher from Christian Resource Institute. They accurately summarize the meaning of the first candle, the HOPE candle, lit today in churches observing Advent, and it's relevance for today in our country.
The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah, that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history. As God’s people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and lulled into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, there arose a longing among some for God to raise up a new king who could show them how to be God’s people. They yearned for a return of God’s dynamic presence in their midst.
And so, God revealed to some of the prophets that indeed He would not leave His people without a true Shepherd. While they expected a new earthly king, their expectations fell far short of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ. And yet, the world is not yet fully redeemed. So, we again with expectation, with hope, await God’s new work in history, the second Advent, in which He will again reveal Himself to the world. And we understand in a profound sense that the best, the highest of our expectations will fall far short of what our Lord’s Second Advent will reveal!
These descriptions are apt parallels to the political, spiritual, and economic realities we are now facing at this moment in our lives. I'll be celebrating Advent in one of our community's churches that is proud to raise this meaningful tradition high. May this Advent season be a blessing for you and your family as we await the coming of the King with HOPE. ct