Summary: 1st Sunday of Advent 2003--A Study of the OT prophecies of Christ’s 1st Advent and the NT prophecies of Christ’s 2nd Advent.
Prophecies of Hope
1st Sunday of Advent, 2003
Additional References: All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, Lockyer
The Bible Knowledge Commentary
a. Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of this season is celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent and anticipating the return of Christ in his Second Advent. Advent is much more than observing a 2,003-year-old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ, through whom all of creation might be reconciled to God.
b. Advent symbolizes our spiritual journey as individuals and as a congregation. It confirms that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. Acknowledging that advent provides a basis for Godly ethics, for holy living arising from an understanding that we live "between the times" and that we are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as we celebrate God’s great mark in history via the Incarnation, and anticipate a future consummation to that historical mark, we must also confess our responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."
c. The Advent wreath, as you see here on the altar, has five candles; four around the wreath and one in the center. The wreath is symbolic and a vehicle to tell the Christmas story. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is not as important as the story to which it invites us to listen, and participate.
(1) The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end.
(2) The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in God—the hope of newness, renewal, and eternal life.
(3) The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son.
(4) The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
(5) The center candle is called the Christ Candle. Its central location reminds us the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.
d. The candles’ light reminds us Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others (Isa 42:6).
e. The progression in lighting the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four-week period, they symbolize the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding, and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds us that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and we rejoice that the promise of long ago has been realized
f. Today we light the first candle, the candle of Hope.
(1) The prophets of Israel all spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a savior would be born, a king in the line of David. They spoke of how he would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.
(2) On Christmas day the Christ of our hope was born. On Good Friday the Christ of our hope died. On Easter day the Christ of our hope rose from the dead. He then ascended into heaven. On the last day, the Christ of our hope will come again to establish his kingdom over all things on earth.
(3) As followers of Christ, we await his return. We light this candle to remember that as he came to us as humbly in the manger at Bethlehem and gave light to the world, so he is coming again in power to deliver his people.
(4) We light this candle to remind us to be alert and to watch for his return.
2. Prophecies of Hope—The First Advent
a. Throughout Biblical history, prior to Christ’s birth, God’s people hoped for a messiah, a savior.
b. Hope, according to Webster’s Dictionary: to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment; to long for with expectation of obtainment; to expect with desire; desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.