Advent is the time of the Christian calendar that is a time of mental and spiritual preparation ("waiting") for Christmas - the anniversary of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Many churches have the practice of lighting candles during the four Sundays before Christmas and then, on Christmas Eve, lighting a fifth candle at the center of the wreath holding the other four. The fifth candle is always the Christ candle.
As I sat in worship yesterday and watched a couple light the first Advent Candle, I commented to my daughter, age 10, about the different symbolisms Christian worship has attached to these four candles. The most popular are the Christian Concepts:
- Wise men
- Mary and Joseph
- Nazareth - where Mary & Joseph were living
- Bethlehem - where Jesus was born
- Jerusalem - where Mary, Joseph, and the Magi passed through
- Babylon - where the Magi came from
- education (see in teaching the Christian concepts),
- worship (seen in the actions of the people at the nativity),
- service (seen in the humble but important work by the animals),
- evangelism and fellowship (seen in the cities where so many people live).