Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 4th Sunday of Advent

Today we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent, which is nearing its conclusion. I pray that, as we have meditated that we have drawn nearer to Christ. There will be 3 more posts: one for the Christ Candle (white) on Christmas; one for New Years and the challenge of carrying the Light of the World to others; and the final one for Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. 

Let’s review our Advent journey thus far. The 1st week we examined The Prophecy Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Hope), which represents the longing for the Messiah's arrival and the hopefulness associated with expected life-transformations. The 2nd week we considered The Bethlehem Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Preparation); which reminds us that Jesus is the King of kings, the critical preparations that were made for His birth, and our preparations for celebrating Christ’s nativity. The 3rd week we explored The Shepherds' Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Joy), which focused on the shepherds’ joy and their part in sharing the Light of the World with everybody they encountered.

Today is the 4th Week of Advent: "The Angel Candle", also known as "The Candle of Love" (purple), is lit. Angels have played a significant role throughout history. Except for the angels that rebelled with Lucifer (Luke 10:18; II Peter 2:4; Jude 6), angels have most often been associated with light. The Scriptures record some of the angels’ responsibilities. In heaven their main tasks are worship and praise (Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation, chpts 4-5). Angels also serve as messengers to communicate God’s will to His people (Acts 7:52-53), and they were the heralds for most of the predictions recorded in Daniel and Revelation (Rev. 1:1; 21: 9-10; 22:1). Angels have additional roles: they protect and deliver God’s people from physical danger (Daniel, chpts 3 and 6; and Acts, chpts 5 and 12); they strengthened and encouraged Christ after His temptation (Matthew 4:11) and also believers (Acts 5:19-20; 27:23-25); they are used by God as vessels to answer prayers (Daniel 9:20-24; 10:10-12; and Acts 12:1-17); God uses them to provide for physical needs (Genesis 21: 17-20; 1 Kings 19:6; and Matthew 4:11); they provide guidance (Matthew, 1:18-2: 23); and they care for believers at the moment of their death (Luke 16:22).  Most importantly, angels played a significant role in the unfolding of what we now call “The Christmas Story”.

Also known as the Candle of Love, the fourth candle reminds us of God's great gift of love. Evidence of God's love for His people is woven throughout the Scriptures and throughout history. Angels frequently carried that message of love to His creation. As we read the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to and surrounding the birth of Jesus we discover that God sent His angel to announce to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, of the Messiah. An angel also informed and reassured Joseph (in a dream) that Mary had been faithful to him and that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Later, an angel, then joined by a huge group of angels, made the grand announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds.

And when Jesus was about 2 yrs. old, an angel was sent to warn Joseph that the jealous King Herod was seeking to kill Him. Throughout all these interactions and interventions, the angels were carrying God's message of love and protection.

Although angels are used by God, our worship is not centered on them. Our praise and worship are for Christ alone.  Hebrews 1:14 states, "Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?" (The Message). This includes each of us who has acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, and who have received Him as our Lord and Saviour. We don't pray to the angels. However, when we pray for help, God may use them to provide assistance. Regardless of the manner in which God provides for our needs, His provision for us stems from His great love for us.

Suggested Daily Scripture Readings

Sun., Dec. 20th  Birth of Jesus Foretold and Mary's Song of Praise  Luke 1: 26-55
Mon., Dec. 21st   Joseph is Visited by an Angel-- Matthew 1:18-25 
Tues., Dec. 22nd    The Birth of Immanuel Matthew 1: 18-25
Wed., Dec. 23rd    Mary Treasured and Pondered the Events Surrounding Jesus' Birth  Luke 2:19
Thurs., Dec. 24th   This is how God Demonstrates His Love  1 John 4:9
Friday, Dec. 25th   The Christ Candle

Elizabeth Hogan HaydukFormer SA Officer

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