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Advent Candles: Light of the World

Light of the World: Hope from Romans 8:19-25

We gather this morning as the children of God.

In hope that all creation will be set free from bondage and decay.

We offer ourselves as the first fruits of this redemption.

For in hope, we were saved.

We light this candle in the hope that saved us and the hope of what we do not yet see.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Light of the World: Peace from Isaiah 9:2, 6; John 14:27

We gather as people who walked in darkness but have seen a great light.

Once we lived in a land of deep darkness—on us, the light of peace has shined.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.

He is the Prince of Peace.

We light this candle in the peace of Christ and for the peace the world has yet to know.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Light of the World: Joy from John 15:11, 16:20-22

We gather as people of hope and peace.

May our joy be complete.

Though the broken world may bring us to lament and repentance, our sorrow will turn to joy.

No one can take away the joy Christ completes in us.

We light this candle with the joy of those who have heard and experienced the Word made flesh even as we wait for Christ to come again.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Light of the World: Love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 12

We gather in the love of Christ: a love that is patient and kind; love that is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.

In love, we rejoice in the truth.

Through the love of Christ, we find we can bear all things, believe all things, endure all things.

In love, we hope in all things.

We light this candle to declare a love that never ends and for the day when it is fully known in the world.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Submitted by Michelle Henrichs

Advent Wreath Liturgies: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love

Advent Wreath Liturgies
Advent 1 – Hope
Today we light the first candle of Advent, the candle of Hope. (Light Candle)
We put our hope in the one to come, the promised one who comes from God to
bring good news of salvation. We hope in the one who will lead us to walk in the light of the LORD. We hope he will not let us live in dark valleys, but on the high mountain of God.
We light this candle in Hope.
On this day, we remember to hopefully look for the coming of Christ.
Advent 2 – Peace
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ. (Light Candle). Today we light the second candle of Advent, the candle of Peace.
God has a peaceful dream for the world, and we dream it too. We dream of peaceful world full of wolves and leopards and lions eating and sleeping and dancing with lambs, kids, and calves. We dream of a peaceful world where nations come together, where war is a memory, and we eat at one table.
We light this candle in Peace.
On this day, we remember the Lord of All who brings peace surpassing all understanding.
Advent 3 – Joy
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ, and we lit the candle of Peace, remembering God’s dream of a peaceful world. (Light Candles). Today we light the third candle of Advent, the candle of Joy.
In Advent, we are in a time of waiting. Like the Israelites who wandered through the Wilderness, waiting to come into the Promised Land, we wait for the coming of the Joy of Ages. We wait for the day where we can join our voices with the angels to sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” We wait for the day when everlasting joy will be on each of us.
We light this candle in Joy. (Light Candle)
On this day, we remember the Spirit who breathes joy into our lives.
Advent 4 – Love
Last Sunday we lit the candle of Hope, remembering the hope which comes in Christ, the candle of Peace, remembering God’s dream of a peaceful world, and the candle of Joy, remembering the Spirit within us who brings joy. (Light Candles). Today we light the fourth candle of Advent, the candle of Love.
Scripture tells us “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18). God created this world in love and this world will end in the love of God. God’s love pervades all aspects of this life. From birth to death, pain to delight, strangers to lovers, God’s love is there.
We light this candle in Love. (Light Candle)
On this day, we remember God is Love.
Christmas Eve – Light
Throughout this season we have lived, waited, and remembered the hope, peace, joy, and love of God found in Christ. (Light Candles) Tonight we gather together and light candles in honor of the Christ Child.
With the birth of Christ, salvation has drawn near. The God who ordered the chaos of the universe has come down into the chaos of our world. The Word which was with God at the beginning came down and lived with us. While we were yet living in the valley of the shadow of death, the light of new life burst forth.
We light this candle for Christ.
On this night, we remember God has come in the Christ Child.
Submitted by Rev. Will Ryan, First Christian Church (DOC), Burlington, Iowa

Advent Wreath Candlelighting: The Women

Advent Wreath Candlelighting: The Women of Matthew’s Genealogy

**Advent 1**

Tamar, a woman, was with child and bore twin sons.
We give thanks that Tamar confronted boldly the injustices which threatened to keep her barren. Tamar’s righteousness caused her to become a foremother of Jesus.

In these days, we need justice to roll down on us like water, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

Hear then, O house of David!
The Lord will give you a sign.
A young woman shall bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Advent Chorus

 

**Advent 2**

Rahab, a woman, was with child and bore a son.
We give thanks that Rahab, heroine of Jericho, kept Israel safe.
Rahab’s faith and knowledge mad this foreign woman an important person in Israel’s history.

In these days, we long for a new day — a day when the Earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Hear then, O house of David!
The Lord will give you a sign.
A young woman shall bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Advent Chorus

 

**Advent 3**

Ruth, a woman, was with child and bore a son. Ruth, once a childless widow, became a foremother of Jesus. Ruth was a resourceful woman. She created opportunities for herself to make choices about her future.

We look forward to the day when we who wait for the Lord shall be renewed in strength. We shall run and not be weary. We shall walk and not faint.

Hear then, O house of David!
The Lord will give you a sign.
A young woman shall bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Advent Chorus

 

**Advent 4**

Uriah’s wife was with child and bore a son. Before her son was born, Uriah’s wife grieved for the deaths of her husband and another son., she and them victims of a powerful man’s desire for her. Uriah’s wife was Bathsheba, who, though victimized in her own lifetime, was a foremother of Jesus.

We wait for justice, but justice is far from us. Righteousness does not reach us. We wait for new life, and lo, there is death; and for hope, but we walk in gloom.

Hear then, O house of David!
The Lord will give you a sign.
A young woman shall bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Advent Chorus

 

**Christmas Eve/ Christmas**

Mary, a young woman, found favor with God, and received these promises from God:
“You will conceive and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. The child will be holy and will be called Son of God.”
Blessed is Mary, mother of Jesus, who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.

My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for us, and holy is God’s name.

God’s mercy is for those who have feared God from generation to generation.

God’s strength has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

Hear then, O house of David!
The Lord has given us a sign.
A young woman shall bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

Advent Chorus

 

Submitted by Rev. Sharon Mack Temple, Brookmeade UCC, Nashville TN

Opening to the Light–Advent Candle Liturgies

2016 Advent/Christmas Theme: Opening To The Light
Narrative Lectionary Year 3: Daniel 6, Joel 2, Isaiah 61, Luke 1

Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings (tune: Picardy, except last two lines):

As we light the Advent candle
with the light of hope burning bright,
faithfully we wait for his coming;
faithfully it shines through the night.
In our humble hearts a fire burns as well;
hear the prayer these flames would tell.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel.

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

week 1 (Daniel 6.6-27):
Liturgist: One candle shines as shadows lengthen and chaos roars—
the dawn of God’s kingdom in our midst.
All: Courage awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 2 (Joel 2.12-13, 28-29):
Liturgist: Two candles shine as light peeks through the cracks
and God’s dream overflows.
All: Vision awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 3 (Isaiah 61.1-11):
Liturgist: Three candles shine as God’s promise draws near,
beckoning us to be good news in body and spirit.
All: Justice awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 4 (Luke 1.26-55):
Liturgist: Four candles shine as God’s purpose is revealed
in word and flesh.
All: Possibility awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

Liturgist: Radiant flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

Here is a bulletin-ready version:

week 1:

Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings
As we light the Advent candle
with the light of hope burning bright,
faithfully we wait for his coming;
faithfully it shines through the night.
In our humble hearts a fire burns as well;
hear the prayer these flames would tell.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel.

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: One candle shines as shadows lengthen and chaos roars—
the dawn of God’s kingdom in our midst.
All: Courage awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

week 2

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Two candles shine as light peeks through the cracks
and God’s dream overflows.
All: Vision awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.
week 3:

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Three candles shine as God’s promise draws near,
beckoning us to be good news in body and spirit.
All: Justice awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

week 4:

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Four candles shine as God’s purpose is revealed
in word and flesh.
All: Possibility awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Radiant flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

***song is an excerpt from “Light the Advent Candle” by Ruth Elaine Schram

Christmas Eve wreath lighting

Lighting the Four Candles

(the sung response between each candle is optional. For the Christ Candle liturgy, scroll to the bottom)    

Together, we light this candle of hope
to represent the longing that resides in our hearts:
for a safer world,
for a world rid of warfare and oppression,
fear and hatred.
Only light will drive out the darkness.
    This hope is found in the God who has come to save us.

Light One Candle For Messiah–Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 1)

Together, we light this candle of peace
to represent the unity we have amongst each other:
as human beings,
as beloved children of God,
as disciples called to live in harmony with one another.
Only as partners in peace can we stand against violence.
This peace is found in a newborn child, cradled in his mother’s arms.

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 2)

Together, we light this candle of joy
to represent the delight that is found in the coming of our savior:
in the birth of hope,
in the fruition of faithfulness,
in the warmth of God’s love for a broken world.
Only joy can give us strength to continue our work.
    This joy is found in a God who finds joy in us!

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 3)

    Together, we light this candle of love
to represent the home we have in God’s steadfast shalom:
a home built with peace and kindness,
righteousness and justice,
where all are invited to the Table to partake in the feast.
Only love can bring us together.  Only love can save our souls.
    This love is found tonight in a manger, in Mary’s arm and in our own.

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 4)

~~~~~~~
Christ Candle
    Our wait is over, the Christ-child is here!
    Long we have waited, long we have watched for his coming.
God is not satisfied to remain apart from us, God must be one among us.
    We are God’s people, shepherd of God’s flock,
children of God’s redeeming.
We light this candle to represent Christ’s presence, his everlasting reign.
    We give thanks to God for the fulfillment of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY

hymn: Hope Has Found Us

Would make a great response to the Advent Candle Lighting (one verse per week).

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Submitted by Rev. Stephen Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY. Permission is given for use in worship. Please do not remove copyright information.

Advent Candles: hopeful anticipation

Week 1: Hope

Without hope, we have no direction, no purpose.
As we begin the season of Advent,
we wait in hopeful anticipation
of the newness God has brought and is bringing to this world.
We seek to live as a people of hope,
with our hearts set on our the life to come,
and our eyes set on the work we’re called to do in the meantime.
We light this candle to symbolize our hope in Jesus’ birth.
We gather to share this hope with one another.

 

Week 2: Peace

Without peace, we have no solace, no fulfillment.
As we continue the season of Advent,
we wait in hopeful anticipation
of the peace the Christ-child will bring to a weary world.
We seek to live as a people of peace,
working toward a world free of violence and vengeance,
where all can live free of abuse and fear.
We light this candle to symbolize the peace of Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this peace with one another.

 

Week 3: Joy

Without joy, we have no fulfillment to our lives.
As we continue the season of Advent,
we wait in joyful anticipation
of the happiness the Christ-child will bring to a world that needs it so desperately.
We seek to live as a people of joy
that share it with everyone we encounter,
to bless others with the happiness we have in Jesus Christ.
We light this candle to symbolize the joy we have in Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this joy with one another.

 

Week 4: Love

Without love, we have nothing,
wandering aimlessly in a world without hope.
As the season of Advent comes to a close,
we wait for love by practicing it,
by embodying the truth we trust in God-with-us.
We seek to live as people of love,
reciprocating that which has first been shown to us.
We light this candle to symbolize the love we have in Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this love with one another.

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, IL.

giving voice to God’s promise–Advent Candle liturgies

Each week begins with a bit of the psalm for the day. This should be read by someone other than the person leading the “one” part of the candle liturgy. It is also perfectly okay to leave the psalm out if necessary or desired.

 

November 29 (Advent 1—2 Kings 22.1-10, 23.1-3: Listen // hope) Psalm 25.4-5

 

Reader: Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

One:    In the beginning was the Word—
spoken and breathed,
a promise made and kept.

All:     Listen and hear—
God’s promise is true!

One:    The Word was in the beginning,
and through him all things come into being.

All:     Eternal and near at hand,
Already and not-yet,
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

One:    Listen!
Hear the covenant anew, giving voice to a future with hope.

~candle is lit~

 

December 6 (Advent 2—Isaiah 40.21-11: Speak // peace) Psalm 126.2

 

Reader: Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

One:    In the beginning was the Word—
spoken and breathed,
a promise made and kept.

All:     Speak it loud and clear—
God’s promise is true!

One:    The Word was in the beginning,
and through him all things come into being.

All:     Eternal and near at hand,
Already and not-yet,
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

One:    Do not hold back!
Speak out, giving voice to God’s peace that passes all understanding.

~candle is lit~

 

December 13 (Advent 3—Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 10-13: Persevere // joy) Isaiah 12.5-6

 

Reader: Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

One:    In the beginning was the Word—
spoken and breathed,
a promise made and kept.

All:     Persevere in hope, keep the faith—
God’s promise is true!

One:    The Word was in the beginning,
and through him all things come into being.

All:     Eternal and near at hand,
Already and not-yet,
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

One:    Keep going!
Persevere in joy, giving voice to God’s presence yet again.

~candle is lit~

 

 

December 20 (Advent 4—Luke 1.5-24a, 57-80: Trust // love) Luke 1.44-45

 

Reader: “As soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

One:    In the beginning was the Word—
spoken and breathed,
a promise made and kept.

All:     Trust the good news—
God’s promise is true!

One:    The Word was in the beginning,
and through him all things come into being.

All:     Eternal and near at hand,
Already and not-yet,
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

One:    Trust in God!
Wait with faith, giving voice to Christ’s love for all.

~candle is lit~

 

December 24 (Christmas Eve—Glorify) Psalm 96

 

Reader: O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.

One:    In the beginning was the Word—
spoken and breathed,
a promise made and kept.

All:     Glorify the Lord with me—
God’s promise is true!

One:    The Word was in the beginning,
and through him all things come into being.

All:     Eternal and near at hand,
Already and not-yet,
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.

One:    Glory to God in the highest!
The Word is made flesh, giving voice to God’s promise yet again.

~candle is lit~

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, The Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

Advent Candles–Sabbath

[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”]

 

Advent 1

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.

 

Advent 2

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.

 

Advent 3

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.

 

Advent 4

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.

 

Christmas Eve

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

Advent Candles: hope, peace, joy, love

1.
The first week of Advent is all about hope.
Think about hope as you hear Lamentations 3: 21-24:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”

One purple candle is lit.

Gracious God, As the Advent season begins, we cry out to you. We come to you looking for hope. When everything else we rely on fails us, our only hope is in you. When we do not understand what has happened, we hope in you. We can hope for better days because we trust you. We know you and we know you are here with us no matter what we are facing. Some of us see only darkness this time of year. Some of us find life overwhelming. Some of us are filled with Advent joy. Wherever we find ourselves today, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this journey. Amen.

 

2.

For the second week in Advent, we focus on peace.
In John 14:27, 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.”

Two purple candles are lit.

Prince of Peace, reveal yourself to us today. We need peace in our lives, our homes, our families, our church, and our whole world. Help us to slow down and seek out the peace you provide, so we may become peacemakers for ourselves and others. In your name, Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.

 

3.

During the third week in Advent, we spend time thinking about joy.
From Psalm 5:11, we hear these words,
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Two purple candles and one pink candle are lit.

Too often, we think joy is something big, O God. A brass band or a parade can certainly bring us joy. Just as easily and far more often, we can feel joy in a hug or the squeeze of hand, we can see joy in a smile or hear it in laughter. Help us to not overlook the simple joys that peak into our lives daily. This week in our Advent journey, open our eyes to the joy that surrounds us. Amen.

 

4.

In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may sound very familiar, so we will hear them twice. The first time is in the New Revised Standard Version. The second time you’ll be reading from the Message. Listen for the call to love in these words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

”Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Three purple candles and one pink candle are lit.

God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.

 

Christmas

Merry Christmas! Today is the day we have been preparing for throughout Advent. Jesus is born. Here is the story as recorded in Luke’s Gospel.

“ In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.  Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled.  Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.  She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.  The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.  This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child.  Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.  Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.”

All five candles are lit.

We have been waiting for this day, Loving God. We have prepared ourselves for this special day. On this Christmas Day, let us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives. As the candles burn brightly and light our path, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto