We don’t need candles for illumination in our home; so when one is burning, it means “something’s up.” If my wife comes home and spots one, her first question is, “Is somebody coming over?”
She asks that because if she had invited someone, lighting a candle is the first thing she would do, even before vacuuming and cleaning up dirty dishes. She loves the scent. Candles make our home smell nice. They not only mask the tired aroma of old socks and dust bunnies, but they add enticing whiffs of cinnamon, balsam, and vanilla. They take us away from our ordinary street and suggest that we are somewhere else, somewhere exotic or romantic or exciting.
When you light the candle for the third Advent week, let the scent of the match and the wax and the wick take you away. Think of the burning of sacrifices on the Old Testament temple altar that are no longer needed because the Lamb of God has been slain once and for all. Think of the lake of burning sulfur, the ultimate and horrible place of banishment in hell, that you will never see.
Think also of the sweet aroma of incense burned in the Holy Place that brought the prayers of the believers to the throne of a Father who eagerly listens to his children, children who smell good to him now. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:7).
Let that third candle remind you of the joy that Jesus brings.