Advent Wreath Candlelighting, Homage to Cláudio Carvalhaes

I was at an event at Union Theological Seminary a couple weeks ago called “Got Sermon.” It was pre-Advent (and there will be another one pre-Lent) One workshop was rituals of Lament for Advent from wonderful worship professor Cláudio Carvalhaes This is what I have understood from what I heard. Forgiveness is asked.

The premise of the creation of liturgy (the work of the people, indeed) is to create the words for the lighting of the candles – often three blue or purple and one pink, sometimes all white – traditions vary. Occasionally this moment in worship is a slap-dash seasonal call to worship that celebrates the different shapes of family in by reading quick words and lighting the wreath sometime after the introit and before the opening hymn.

Carvalhaes would have us invite people to the deeper traditional of lament by naming those things which oppose the light of hope, peace, joy and love. We name them and then claim the power of that light over them.

The reason I am posting this in November (!) is my sense that this must be created before the season begins.

One way would to gather a small group in the church this month to share these themes and create together the liturgy. Some of these might be people who like to speak aloud and others really would rather not, but they like to write or brainstorm. This could be shaped in one session with four themes or two sessions with two themes each. The group could actually write the liturgy together or could give all their ideas to one person.

Another strategy would be to ask for four volunteers and send each out with a format to create the liturgy.

Still a third way to offer this opportunity to lament in the season of Advent would be to write the first Sunday – the Candle of Hope — to give people the idea and for the following three weeks — ask aloud – for their responses. this is a sample second Sunday and the pattern would remain the same for the third and fourth Sundays.

A gift from John Stuart

Second Sunday in Advent
Leader: Last week we had the courage to light the candle of hope.
We claim that this fragile light signifies hope
in a world where hope is often extinguished.

People: We light hope on this wreath
in our church on Sunday morning,
and we commit to living hope in the week to come.
(light last week’s candle)

Leader: The second candle is the candle of peace What opposes peace in our world?

People responding _________________

Leader: Can this Advent light stand against these powers?

People: Amen – light the candle.

Leader: (lighting the candle) We light peace on this wreath
in our church on Sunday morning.
What will you do?

People: Emmanuel, God being with us,
we will live this peace.

Finally here is your fourth choice, a four week ritual of lament and rejoicing prepared from discussions around me.

Advent Wreath Ritual, 2017

First Sunday in Advent

Leader: We gather around the Advent wreath
to name abandoned hope, broken peace,
lost joy, and love unchosen
in our world and our time,
and to claim that this candle symbolizes
a light more true, more powerful,
more faithful, that all of these.

People: We light the candle of hope
in the face of stage serious cancer,
reckless damage to creation,
deportations into danger.

Leader: God’s hope brightens doubt and hopelessness,
and shows us the more-than-this.

People: Emmanuel, God-with-us, when we leave this place, light this hope on the wick of our lives so that we may brighten the world. Amen

Second Sunday in Advent

Leader: We gather around the Advent wreath
to name abandoned hope, broken peace,
lost joy, and love unchosen
in our world and our time,
and to claim that this candle symbolizes
a light more true, more powerful,
more faithful, that all of these.
I light last week’s candle of hope.

People: We light the candle of peace
in the spite of an opioid epidemic,
children strapped to explosives,
high-tech drones and weaponized cars.

Leader: God’s peace shines through all the violence
and shows us the way-through-this.

People: Emmanuel, God-with-us, when we leave this place, light this hope and peace on the wick of our lives so that we may shine a path for the world. Amen

Third Sunday in Advent

Leader: We gather around the Advent wreath
to name abandoned hope, broken peace,
lost joy, and love unchosen
in our world and our time,
and to claim that this candle symbolizes
a light more true, more powerful,
more faithful, that all of these.
I light the candles of hope and peace.

People: We light the candle of joy
in the midst of dementia, PTSD,
gun tragedies, food deserts.

Leader: God’s joy ignites embers
under loss and sorrow,
and shows us an in-spite-of-this.

People: Emmanuel, God with us, when we leave this place, light this hope, peace and joy on the wick of our lives so all can treasure a simple smile, an unexpected laughter. Amen

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Leader: We gather around the Advent wreath
to name abandoned hope, broken peace,
lost joy, and love unchosen
in our world and our time,
and to claim that this candle symbolizes
a light more true, more powerful,
more faithful, that all of these.
I light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.

People: We light the candle of love
against loneliness, racism,
violence against queer people,
capital punishment, and
the we-too wounds
of sexual abuse and harassment.

Leader: God’s love illuminates all hatred
so it can be recognized
and gives to us we-name-this.

People: Emmanuel, God with us, when we leave this place, light this hope, peace, joy and love on the wick of our lives so that we may share the unconditional welcome that we have found here. Amen.

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4 Responses to Advent Wreath Candlelighting, Homage to Cláudio Carvalhaes

  1. Linda Grund-Clampit says:

    Wow! I love that a spark of inspiration was shared with you, which brought forth in you these four options, which you are shining out into the world so freely, and now in me are sparking some ideas that may enlighten and empower in my own context! The light shines indeed! Thank you so much!

  2. Joyce Morin says:

    This is not only useful, but so much that we need to pray during Advent. Thank you for the gift.

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