What Happens on the Four Sundays of Advent?

Christian churches light one purple candle in the Advent wreath each week and preach a sermon on hope, love, joy and peace during the four Sundays of Advent. The candles symbolize the coming of Christ. The churches light the final candle in the center of the wreath on Christmas Eve.

Advent begins on the Sunday that falls between November 27 and December 3 each year. The candle lit on this first Sunday is called the Prophesy Candle and reminds worshippers that prophets foretold Jesus's coming for hundreds of years before he was born. Worshippers recite the "Prayer of Hope" at this time.

The candle lit on the second Sunday reminds worshippers that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Some churches use the second candle to represent the Bible. They recite the "Prayer of Peace" on this Sunday.

Worshippers use the third candle to represent the shepherd or Mary, the mother of Jesus. Some churches use a rose colored candle on the third Sunday to represent God's love. Worshippers recite the "Prayer of Love."

The fourth candle is the Candle of Joy and represents John the Baptist, who advised the Israelites to prepare themselves for Jesus's teachings. Some churches call this the Angel Candle, representing the angels who proclaimed Jesus's birth. Worshippers recite the "Prayer of Joy" on this Sunday.