Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent: Week 1—The Candle of Hope (or The Prophet’s Candle)

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.  And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.  
 (Isaiah 60:2-3 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from last year with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks.

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On November 27, 2016, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the first candle—the Candle of Hope (or the Prophet’s Candle).  In conducting a quick internet search, I discovered multiple terms for the candles, so what I am presenting is one option.  To read the first post in my Advent series please see: Advent.

Banner Trinity UMC--Albia, Iowa.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  ….  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  
(Isaiah 9:2, 6 KJV)

The dictionary defines hope simply, as: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true”.[1]

The biblical definition of hope differs from the secular view of hope.  Seen from the eyes of faith, hope is: “…a confident expectation…regardless of temperament or circumstances, where there is a belief in the living God who intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to keep…promises…Hope is therefore inseparable from faith…”[2]

This is the type of Hope we celebrate at Christmas.  A Hope that is solid and lasting—it never fails.  The Hope I am referring to is Jesus. 

Poinsettias and banner at Trinty UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

Which type of hope do you experience in your daily life?

On the first Sunday of Advent are reminded that Christ is our Hope.    

Jesus is our Hope; without Him, we are lost and destined for an eternity that no one should desire. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  
(Psalm 42:5 KJV)

Photo Credit: P. Whitlach

On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Hope (or in some traditions it is the Prophet’s Candle).  The Old Testament is full of prophecies about the Messiah—giving details about both comings—sometimes both comings are seen in the same chapter or verse.  The prophets likely did not realize there were two comings of the promised Messiah, thus the confusion when Jesus came as Savior (setting up the Kingdom of God in hearts, rather than as a conquering King (giving victory over Rome).

Banner at Trinity UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. 
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 KJV)

Hope came to our world—dark with sin—in the form of a tiny, vulnerable baby.  This child grew and developed like a normal human child; yet He lived a sinless life.  Eventually, He suffered, bled, died, and rose again to save us from our sins.

As Christians, we are indeed blessed with Hope—hope that the world does not have and does not understand.  To have hope, means that we can see more than what is right in front of us.  This hope gives us great confidence—confidence that strengthens and encourages us.  It is also something that the world cannot understand.  This hope allows us to praise God in the darkest times of life.    

How have you experienced this type of hope?  How have you seen this in the lives of others?

What will your response be this year to Jesus?  He stands ready to come into your heart; He has already said yes to you.  What is your response? 

Take some time this week to consider the following questions:  

What does it mean to have hope? 

Where does your hope lie—in Jesus or in something or someone that cannot save? 

Therefore, as we commence this season of Advent let us prepare our hearts to welcome in Jesus our Savior and Lord!  Jesus the One who is our Hope! 

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER.  My prayer is that churches will not cancel services on Christmas Day—to do so is to miss the point of the day entirely! 
Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the sure hope we have through Jesus Christ—our Lord Immanuel—God with us.  Help us to remember that Hope; particularly as we wait in expectation for Christ’s coming.  Guide our thoughts when we struggle to find Hope in the various situations and challenges of life.  We are encouraged through Your Hope; direct us in sharing that Hope with others.  Empower us to be encouraging and loving to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling in so many ways as this year winds down—may we be the hands and feet of Jesus for them and for others.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


[2] New Concise Bible Dictionary, “hope”, pp. 226-227, Ed. Derek Williams, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1989).


  1. Yes, Kim, we are so blessed by hope! I do hope you will write a series on the prophets pointing to the coming of the Messiah. So many people, who don't read the Old Testament, have no clue about this; I think it would be an eye-opening, heart-opening experience for them.
    Love and blessings!

    1. Martha, life is hard enough with hope; without hope, life would hardly be worth living. Perhaps a series on the Old Testament prophets prophecies about Jesus is a good idea. You're correct about many not reading the OT and not knowing about the prophecies concerning Jesus. It will be an interesting series to pull together (after Christmas, may be?) and time consuming.

      Love and blessings!

  2. Hi Kim! I am holding on to hope this Advent, as it seems very difficult for me to have any quiet place to soak in the season. If I didn't have that, and a longing to see the infant Jesus, I think I'd be very sad indeed.
    Come into my heart Jesus, I need you!

    1. Hi Ceil! Holding on to hope is important to do now and throughout the year. Yes, it's easy to find sadness overwhelming us during this season due to so much going on around us (even when we're not all that busy). Without hope we tend to flounder and drift through life without much direction. It's the hope that I have in Christ and heaven that keeps me going.

      I agree with you, "Coming into my heart Jesus, I need you!"



  3. I love your perspective on the different Advent Candles. It is a wonderful tradition that I enjoy as well, and you have a little different way of offering it than I do, but still with the same message and meaning. Yes, Christmas, Christ's coming does give us GREAT HOPE!!! We could have no hope without Him.

    1. Pam, thank you for your kind words. It's so interesting how we can write about the same thing in such different ways, yet share the same message about the GREAT HOPE we have in Jesus.



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