“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)
The first candle on the Advent Wreath represents hope – the hope of a coming Messiah, a Savior who would save us from our sins, prophesied by the prophets of old. It’s been referred to as the “prophecy” candle. The next purple candle on the wreath represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle”. God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Bethlehem! John tells us why in the best-known passage of Scripture in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Who can comprehend such love? For the church in Ephesus, Paul said, “I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.” Ephesians 3:18-19 (ETRV) Love motivated God to give His one and only Son. Why? Oswald Chambers said, “It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. … The love of God means Calvary – and nothing less. … The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. … When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.” (My Utmost for His Highest) Love always sacrifices. It’s been said that you can give without loving, but you can never love without giving! Christmas is God’s gift of love to man!