a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

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.

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

prayers for Advent

need an opening prayer? A shortened prayer of confession/reconciliation? A preface for the prayers of the people? Here you go:

 

December 1:
God, we are ready for hope.  We long for the light of hope to shine in our lives.  Yet as we rush through our days, we fail to see the hope-filled gifts you’ve given us.  Help us slow down.  Enter our hearts with a gentle reminder of the hope you bring.  Open our eyes to the many blessings we’ve received so that we can turn toward others and share your gifts of hope.

December 8:
God, we are ready for peace.  We long to receive the Prince of Peace in our world.  Yet as we fill our lives with holiday projects, family activities and everyday tasks, we find it hard to make the time to welcome the light of peace.  We need your help, O God.  Guide us along the path toward healing and grace.  Kindle the flame of your peace within us, so that each day, each moment, we can shine the light of your love.

December 15:
God, we are ready for joy.  We long to be filled with your joyful good news.  Yet as even as we dream of the days when the hungry will be filled and the oppressed will be freed, we worry about what we might have to give up so that all your people can have enough.  Give us courage to set aside our privilege.  Give us strength to help bring about a world where everyone can sing songs of joy.

December 22:
God, we are ready for love.  We long to be held in your gentle and loving care.  Yet even as we plan and prepare to celebrate the birth of our loving Savior, we find ourselves exhausted and unable to offer a moment to a friend in need.  Touch our hearts and renew us with your love.  Remind us that your gracious gift of love is the greatest gift of all.  Help us share your loving presence with those around us.

 

Submitted by Rev. Debra Avery, First Presbyterian Church, Oakland CA.

CTW: hope, peace, joy, love

One:  God calls us to lives of hope,
All:  looking forward yet living now, working for God’s kingdom to come.
One:  God calls us to lives of peace,
All:  acting on God’s word in every moment, defying the world’s tendency to violence.
One:  God calls us to lives of joy,
All:  founded in God’s relationship with us, not in happiness or cheer.
One:  God calls us to lives of love,
All:  because God first loved us, and continues to love us, and so we love others.
One:  God calls us to worship,
All:  with hearts, hands, voices, and lives.

 

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

CTW: hope

One: We gather together
to hear God’s word of hope.
All: “The days are surely coming,”
says the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”
One: We gather together
to celebrate our part in God’s purpose.
All: “Surely I know the plans I have for you,”
says the Lord,
“plans to give you a future with hope.”
One: We gather together
to be re-made in God’s image,
to bear the word and
to do the work of hope in the world.
Come, let us worship God.

 

A call to worship for Ordinary 26C (Jeremiah 32), based on previous promises (Jeremiah 29 and 31).
Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, The Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

post-communion prayer: God of the inside & the outside

God: You are God indeed, the God of all. You are God of our comings and goings and strivings, and you are God of all that we cannot master or manage, force or control. You are God of our hopes and dreams, our scheming and our plans, but you are also God of all we attempt to wall out, to wall in, to force-feed or resuscitate or kill, but which bleeds through and around anyway. You are Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, the front and the tain of the mirror. We encounter you, God, broken and scattered, in the bread and the wine, both without and within, inside the margins and outside of them too, God in death and loss but also God of new life and joys beyond death and loss. In receiving these gifts may we learn to be, like these wide-scattered gifts, nimble navigators of boundaries and barriers, both those which wall up life and those which nourish and sustain life. We ask this in your name, the loving, the just, the merciful, the one God everlasting, in Jesus the Christ, and in the overflowing promiscuous ecstasy of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Submitted by Brian Cubbage, member and elder at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Louisville, KY) and he blogs at bcubbage.wordpress.com.

Easter prayer: we go to the tomb

We go to your tomb, O Christ,
expecting to be met by the cold hardness of stone,
sealing the death of hope.
Instead, we find that the stone has been rolled away
and you are not there!
Help us to encounter your risen presence everywhere we go
and live in the joy of Easter morn each and every day,
through Christ our risen Lord.
Alleluia! Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens, New York, and Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake, Illinois.