Tag Archives: Advent candles

Advent 3: Love in the midst of Hate

The journey towards Christmas continues. Ten days from today is Christmas Day. Advertisers would tell us to hurry up and finish our shopping. The hustle and bustle is real and all around us. Advent is about preparing for the birth Jesus, but perhaps it has more to do with our hearts than with how many gifts we have purchased or how many packages are around our tree.

The candles of Peace and Joy have been lit and are joined this week by the pink or rose candle Love. While I am certain I didn’t talk about hate today in worship, I did focus on Love. Love can be elusive this time of the year in spite of all the smiling faces that come at us in the advertisements streaming on our devices or pictured all around us. Love is a gift and a commitment that we know first from God’s love for us.

In the Zephaniah passage, this verse is profound: God will renew you in his love (New Revised Standard Version). The Common English Bible says it this way: God will create calm with his love. On Christmas eve we sing “All is calm, all is bright” and “Son of God, love’s pure light.” Love doesn’t back down from difficulty or fear, love renews us and creates calm in our lives our hearts.

You can find today’s worship service here. I am praying for Love this week to renew me and you and create calm in our lives and hearts and spirits.

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Advent 2: Joy in the midst of Uncertainty

The dawned filled with sunshine. My week has been filled with wonderful activities at the church, with some deep and meaningful family time and our house filled with laugher and love. Yesterday, December 8, we gathered to celebrate my mother-in-laws unique and unrepeatable life and spirit. She had died in early November, but this weekend allowed more of her grandchildren to make the trek to Wichita for her memorial service.

Traditionally the candle of joy is the third week of Advent. This week, at least personally, it seemed very appropriate. Joy can come sneaking around the corner or burst out in the most amazing times and events. My husband’s family here, created a joy filled space and time as memory board were made and stories shared and laughter and more laughter ringing through the rooms.

In the sermon Calm and Bright, from Marcia McFee’s Worship Design Studio, the 200th anniversary of the debut of Silent Night, Holy Night is celebrated. Verse two of that well known carol goes like this:

Silent Night, Holy Night,  Shepherds quake, at the sight                                                              Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing “Alleluia”                                                 Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born.

When fear moves to awe and wonder, joy becomes part of the experience of the glories streaming and the alleluias being sung. In today’s service we focused on Elizabeth and Mary’s joy at being part of God’s grace being made real in their lives and through their participation in God’s work in the world. You can find today’s worship service in it’s entirety here.   

I am praying for new spaces and places to experience joy in this Advent Season.

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Hope of the world

I had good intentions of writing a blog during the first week of Advent. We lit the candle of Peace for that first Sunday. Now, I know, that the candle of peace is usually week two. I take a little artistic license with the order of the candles, EXCEPT for Mary’s candle on the third Sunday (always pink, always joy) and the candle of love on the fourth Sunday, Joseph’s candle (which I will go into next week.)

Week one is often hope, or prophecy or preparation, which makes sense as Christians begin their new year. This year, though, peace seemed more important to focus on as the year begins. As it was, I didn’t have a very peaceful week. Nothing went wrong, it is just was a week filled with appointments and not very much time to breathe, to wait and to fill peace-full.

Yesterday, we lit the second candle of Advent, the candle of hope.

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I don’t know about you, but I need a little hope in my life. Advent, with the darkness descending and the days growing shorter, always seems encourage me to be more melancholy, more easily saddened. The world, certainly, doesn’t lack in things that would cause myself or anyone to feel hopeless. In some ways, the world seems both crueler and kinder. This election has divided our country, with an uptick in hateful attacks (particularly on persons of color, women and the LGBTQ community), AND an uptick on acts of kindness for people of the same communities.

Being a person of hope, is not about an attitude of optimism that has not acknowledgment of the pain, the violence, the war and the hatred in the world. Those things have always existed. People of hope and of faith and of peace are called to stand strong in the midst of those realities that do not point to the reign of peace, of love, of grace and of justice promised. As Christians, we understand that reign comes to us best through the incarnation, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

I was glad to remind myself of  that in worship on Sunday. It is what I really want for Christmas, to be a person of faith and hope.  Here is the link from worship yesterday, it is the service that has “Hope” in the title.

http://sundaystreams.com/go/firstwichita

May you know Hope this week as we continue the journey through Advent.

 

 

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