Light

Worship Together: The Light has Come!

Below is a Christmas reading.

As you join together on Christmas day, designate one person as the leader. That person reads the bold sections. 

Everyone reads the italics section together. 


A Christmas Reading

Leader:
Thousands of years ago, in the town Bethlehem, the Savior was born. His love made manifest in bodily form, no longer are we separated from the Light. Hallelujah! Our King is here!

Together:
Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Leader:
Our Light has come, our Great Emmanuel. Spoken of by the prophets and watched for through generations, the Light of the world became incarnate through the Virgin Mary. Joyful, joyful, our hearts are freed!  Hallelujah! Our King is here! 

Together: 
Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Leader:
This babe, laid in a manger, scatters the darkness and brings peace to the Earth. This wailing baby boy, born that we can live again. His Light is life! Hallelujah! Our King is here! 

Together: 
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!” 

Leader:
Our King is here! The Light has come! Hope for all mankind born on this day, he came to set the captive free, to heal the broken, and to cure the land. He came to fold us into his love and set our hearts free again. 

Together: 
As we open our presents and raise up our glasses, let us remember the hope of our Lord.  Let the flicker of his Light burn bright in each and every moment of our Christmas and the days ahead. May our hope in this season set our lives alight by the power of this newborn King.  

Merry Christmas! 

Merry Christmas!
 

The Light of Christ

The Advent Wreath is a tradition that the Church has practiced for centuries! Each Sunday of Advent another candle is lit in honor of what Christ brought to us by becoming the incarnate God. 

The ring, often made of evergreen leaves, represents eternity. The peace of Christ is complete and lasts forever. 


Take a moment of silence to focus your thoughts. 

Light:

The candle of Hope.

Say: 

We thank you, Jesus, for being our hope.

Light:

The candle of Love.

Say:

We thank you, Jesus, for loving us. 

Light:

The candle of Joy. 

Say:

We thank you, Jesus, for bringing us Joy.

Light:

The candle of Peace.

Read: 

Jesus brought peace to us, not like what the world offers us, but something greater. God’s peace is eternally secure because he has promised to never leave us. He has given us his Spirit to be with and in us until we can again walk Jesus. By his Spirit we too can be peace-bringers. 

Pray:

A prayer of thanksgiving to God for providing Peace through Jesus.

A prayer of request that you might be a bringer of Peace  to your neighbors this Advent season.


The Lighting of the Christ Candle

Read:

John 1:9-14 (NLT Below)

"The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son."

Light:

The Christ Candle.

Say together:

We light the Christ candle in honor of Jesus, our Savior. He is our true hope, our true love, our true joy and our true peace. He was born a baby, lived perfectly, suffered, died, and rose again. He is alive and he reigns, hallelujah! 

Pray:

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. We ask that your Holy Spirit would guide us into the darkness, equipped with your Light. Amen. 

Rejoice:

Take time to rejoice! For you, maybe that is playing worship music and singing freely. Maybe it is sharing a bottle of wine or kettle of tea and making toasts to all of the ways Jesus has shone his light into your life this year. However it looks, rejoice!

Friday: Receive Peace

We pray to Thee, our Father
as Christmas comes again,
For peace among all nations
and goodwill among men.
Give us strength and courage
To search ourselves inside
And recognize our vanity,
Our selfishness, and pride.
For the struggle of all ages
Is centered deep within
Where each man has private war
That his own soul must win.
For a world of peace and plenty
Of which all men have dreamed,
Can only be attained and kept
When the spirit is redeemed. 
— A Christmas Prayer for Peace, By Helen Steiner Rice


Stories of Peace

Jesus calmed the storm, he healed the sick, he relieved the tormented. He united tax collectors and fishermen, men and women with one another. Crying out in our hardship, we wonder if he is still that Jesus. Hindsight is always 20/20 they say, and it’s true. We frame all of our stories within their happy endings and when we cannot see that ending, we deem our chapter a tragedy. But if there is a story of the provision of God’s peace, unrest preceded it. 

 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
— Matthew 5:2-12

These Beatitudes do not read, “Blessed is the one who gets it right, for they will find peace. Blessed are the winners, for the losers will be content beneath them. Blessed are the honorable, for they will not be questioned. Blessed are those whose lives are pristine, for they will be regarded with favor.”  But often in our prayers, those are the realities we are praying for. We want to be blessed with the ability to turn off the noise- freedom from the burdens of others that cloud our days. It doesn’t work that way, because the clamor and brokenness are within us. 

“And be yourself our King of Peace”

Jesus is our Peace. His peace is sufficient for today and remains for everlasting tomorrows. The lack of turmoil we beg for is worldly peace, one that quickly vanishes. The peace God can provide endures through even the greatest disasters. So, if you find yourself in a season of suffering, fear, sinfulness, or distress hear this: the Light of the World, The Prince of Peace, The Almighty God, The Wonderful Counselor, has come and is our Emmanuel, God with us. 

His presence is our peace because he imparts to us his righteousness. There is no greater peace than a right standing before God.There is no peace without righteousness. There is no righteousness outside of Jesus.

What better way to celebrate Christmas, than to allow him into your suffering, and trust in his eternal Peace? Your story will not be in vain. You will be called blessed because he can take your greatest fears and failures (drowning, sickness, death, and discord) and turn them into stories of victory. How beautiful to see the schemes of the Devil turned into narratives that proclaim his goodness and peace. How wonderful to know that in the moments when we feel so alone, that God can craft this very day, this very week, and this very life into the Grand Story of his redemption. 

This is the Gospel.

This is the Good News: one King for all mankind, one redemption story in which we all belong, one Kingdom under God. Lost in our own biographies of war-torn disfunction, Jesus came to reconnect us to the Light; and by doing so, offered us the rest of his story. No longer do we have to try to turn our tragedies into fairy tales, our hero has come. King of Kings, he is the Light of the World. 
 

Tuesday: Pray for Peace

Lord our Light, 

We stand in awe of you. You not only calmed the seas and rescued Israel, you brought restoration to all mankind. You descended from heaven, experiencing trauma and sorrow for the sake of humanity. You suffered the mocking voices and open disrespect for the redemption of those you love. 

Help us recognize our brokenness. Show us how to live this season with repentant hearts. In your loving kindness, help us find our path back to your peace. Help us to break our perfume jars at your feet and weep from the knowledge of your love. Let us set aside our titles and our worldly reputations. Let us embrace who we are in you. 

You are our righteousness, our only need. 

May we forever sing your praises. 

Amen  
 

Sunday: The Light of His Joy

The Advent Wreath is a tradition that the Church has practiced for centuries! Each Sunday of Advent another candle is lit in honor of what Christ brought to us by becoming the incarnate God. 

The ring, often made of evergreen leaves, represents eternity. The Joy found in the promises of our God will last forever. 


Take a moment of silence to focus your thoughts. 

Light:

The candle of Hope.

Say: 

We thank you, Jesus, for being our hope.

Light:

The candle of Love.

Say:

We thank you, Jesus, for loving us. 

Light:

The candle of Joy. 

Read: 

We light the candle of Joy. Joy is more than happiness. It cannot be stolen or crushed by circumstances, but endures because it is rooted in God’s eternal goodness. Joy is a marker found in all of those who have chosen to truly trust God with their lives. 

Pray:

A prayer of thanksgiving to God for providing Joy through Jesus.

A prayer of request that you might be a bringer of Joy  to your neighbors this Advent season. 
 

Tuesday: Pray for Joy

Lord our Light, 

The pressure of the season surrounds us. Our facades of fake joy crumble as we experience the stress that comes with our cultural expectations. We try and try and try to find joy apart from you, to find identity in ourselves and not in You. We concern ourselves with the shadows as you beckon us towards the light. 

Have mercy on us, Lord. 

When we run towards performance and pageantry, help us to seek knownness, vulnerability, and intimacy. Show us how to trust that the Light is far greater than the dark and guide us away from the shadows.   

You are the Light of the world. Help us to believe and live out that truth in this Advent season. May the joy of your eternal gladness forever be proclaimed, even in the midst of darkness. To you be all glory and honor and praise. 

Amen. 
 

Monday: We Need Joy

It’s that time of year again when “joy” is plastered on our decorations, our trees, our commercials, and our clothes. Joy is forced upon us as the only appropriate response to our cultural ideals of all that is good: excess and happiness. To experience anything other than a “joyful” response to presents, food, family, or Hallmark movies is seen as an affront to the season, one that cannot and will not be tolerated. 

Somewhere along our journey joy morphed from a response to The Divine to a cultural obligation. Our holiday has shifted from a religious experience to a cultural expectation. 

My own life is a testament to this. Over and over in this season, I’ve chosen my own light to provide joy, rather than the Light of the World. I’ve chosen to put my efforts and time into cultivating a beautiful reputation and beautiful traditions while neglecting my connection to The Divine.

I’ve chosen performance over being known. 

The chaos of life is too much for me in this season. I often believe the lie that God desires my pageantry and false narratives because, though Jesus came to know and be known, I am somehow excluded from that. My messiness is an exception to the rule. My darkness is too big and too bad for the God of the Universe to handle.  Manufacturing cheap joy is far easier than confronting my trauma, embracing my weaknesses, and accepting my messiness. 

But, eventually, that facade of cheap joy cracks for all of us. We find ourselves screaming through clinched teeth at children just wanting attention or drowning our sorrows in decadent food until we lose all emotions. And we wonder where Jesus is in all of this. Where is that joy we’ve been proclaiming? 

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.
— Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Too many times we shrink from the light, assuming that our darkness will consume it. We accept our fear and relinquish control to it. But what if we changed our course this Advent season?  What if we dedicated this time to seeking knownness, vulnerability, and intimacy instead of performance and pageantry? What if we dared to trust that the light is far greater than the dark? 

What if we had the audacity to think that Jesus came to Earth as a baby to know and be known? Not just theoretically, but intensely, personally, and completely known. Not just for people 2,000 years ago, but for us. Not just for that one guy with the perfect reputation, but for you with all of your mess and me with all of my mess. 

We are not a people of the shadows. We are people of the light. 

If we decide to concern ourselves with gratitude, adoration, and praise instead of the paralyzing pressure of creating a perfect holiday or being the perfect person, we won’t  need to manufacture joy or cling to our charades. Everything we need is in the Light of the season. Everything we hope for is born on Christmas day.   

Jesus isn’t interested in our Pinterest boards or popularity contests. That’s not the point of the manger. That’s certainly not the point of the cross. 

This Advent season, may we have the courage to experience true JOY and may we proclaim to the world the words of Henry Van Dyke’s great hymn:   

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!  



 

Sunday: The Light of His Love

The Advent Wreath is a tradition that the Church has practiced for centuries! Each Sunday of Advent another candle is lit in honor of what Christ brought to us by becoming the incarnate God. 

The ring, often made of evergreen leaves, represents eternity. The love of Christ is not temporary, but is ours forever. 



Take a moment of silence to focus your thoughts. 

Light:

the candle of Hope.

Say: 

We thank you Jesus for being our hope.

Light:

The candle of Love.

Read: 

We light the candle of Love. In lighting this candle we recognize God’s love for us and the call to love others. God engaged with us in love by entering into our suffering, born as a baby, living as we live. He has called us, as his children, to engage in the lives of those around us; so that we might carry his love to all people. 

Pray:

A prayer of thanksgiving to God for providing Love through Jesus.

A prayer of request that you might be a bringer of Love to your neighbors this Advent season. 
 

Advent 2017: Let there be Light

The Christmas lights are hung with care and one by one neighborhood streets, once boring, have a bit more color and glow. It is easy to think that Christmas is just a story about the shiny things like tinsel and bells, lights and garland. But the story is also about darkness. The world was dark and needed Jesus. 

Christmas isn’t a time to be distracted from the struggle, tragedies, and evil in our world; but rather, a time to look at the fear they create in the face and say, “You have no victory here.”

The world needs something better than, jolliness. This world needs a Savior.

This Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our King, we will meditate on our need for the Light of the World. We want to carefully wade through the darkness around us and, by doing so, expose it to the Light. Will you join us? Will you walk into the darkness with us as we carry the Light that the Spirit of Jesus has birthed in us?

 


Each Sunday we will light the Advent Wreath candles together. If you would like to join us, gather your Advent Wreath supplies (simple or intricate, creative or purchased) this weekend. 

If you have kids in your life, be sure to download the children’s activity document here, as some supplies will be needed.