[This is a candle-lighting sequence for Advent following a 4-week theme of Sabbath – preaching each week on “Sabbath Hope”, “Sabbath Peace”, “Sabbath Joy” and “Sabbath Love”]
Today is the first Sunday in Advent – a four-week long journey preparing the way for Christ to be born again. This year, our Advent journey is more of a “stay-cation” – a Sabbath from the hectic lives, noise, and advertisements that bombard us in the world. We read in Genesis 2 that:
“On the seventh day, God had finished the work of creation, so God rested from all the work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when God rested from all the work of creation.”
So we, too, have hope for a time of rest – a time set apart this season to remember God and contemplate all that God has done in the world.
We light the first candle to call us together to focus on the hope of quiet rest shared as a communal Sabbath.
The first purple candle is lit
O God, we light the first candle of advent. We light the candle of hope.
Today, we continue our Advent journey in God’s Sabbath, a time of peace and quiet. We recognize that peace is not yet achieved, and pray for God’s peace to come to our chaotic world. We read in John 14 that Jesus said:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
So we, too, have hope for peace. We light these two candles to call us together to focus on the peace of a community worshiping together, united by our love for God.
the first two purple candles are lit
O God, we light the second candle of advent. We light the candles of hope and peace.
Today, we celebrate the joy of the Sabbath, a time of appreciation for work well done. We remember Jesus’ resurrection and long for his return. There may be lots of work left to do before that glorious day, but we are intentional about taking time to praise God in the meanwhile! In Deuteronomy 5, we read:
“Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but Adonai brought you out with a strong hand and a powerful arm. That is why Adonai has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.”
So, we take joy in our rest, for it reveals that we are a free people – and that we should extend the joy of rest to all in our lives.
We light these three candles to remember the joy of being set apart, a Sabbath to the world, in hope and peace.
the first two purple candles and the pink candle are lit
O God, we light the third candle of advent. We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.
Today, we finish our Advent preparations and bask in the love of Christ. We remember how Christ showed love to both his disciples and complete strangers, healing, feeding, and walking closely even with the outcasts in his community. We, too, want to be prepared to follow Christ’s awesome way of love. We read in Mark 12 that Jesus said:
“The most important commandment is this: “Listen, O Israel! Adonai is the one and only God! You must love Adonai with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
So we, on this Sabbath day, remember Jesus’ words, and try to put them into practice.
We light these four candles to remember God’s love for us, which calls us to be set apart in joy, hope, and peace.
three purple candles and the pink candle are lit
O God, we light the fourth candle of advent. We light the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Today, we welcome Christ into our lives once again! As we remember the special circumstances of Jesus’ birth, we remember, too, the light of preparation from our Advent Journey into Sabbath.
the first purple candle is lit
The candle of hope, calling us to wonder what might be in the year to come
the second purple candle is lit
The candle of peace, calling us to step away from the hustle and bustle of the world
the pink candle is lit
The candle of joy, calling us to praise God for freedom from oppression
the third purple candle is lit
The candle of love, calling us to love God and each other from Sabbath to Sabbath
All of these candles light the path for Christ’s return – not as a conquering hero, but as a little, helpless child. We read in Isaiah 9:
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light… For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity!”
So, we light the Christ candle, signifying that God’s hope, peace, joy, and love are realized in Christ Jesus.
the white candle is lit
O God, we light the Christ candle, knowing that you are present with us at all times, but remembering especially when you were present with us in the flesh as Jesus Christ.
God, we welcome you into our midst! We long to bring you gifts, to touch your robe, to know the beautiful sound of your voice in our earthly ears. Our waiting is rewarded – not in the way we expect, but in the wonderful Good News of your birth, heralded by heavenly messengers and earthly shepherds alike. Help us to see you in each other, and to be set apart as your hope, peace, joy, and love in the world! Amen.
Submitted by Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Ancho + Corona Presbyterian Churches, New Mexico