This Christ candle lighting connects with the Advent lighting liturgy which lifts up the four weeks of Advent by naming the stories of Hope, the places of Peace, the festivities of Joy, the incarnations of Love. These are common to us all so that travelers and guests will feel included. I apologize to those who are using this liturgy for your wait for Christmas Eve.
Setting: A wreath with the four Advent candles and a single center pillar — the Christ candle. Often this candle is white, but I am uncomfortable with the subconscious message of this color choice.
All Advent we gathered around this wreath to light candles. The wreath reminds us of the circle of our human community, and the candles illuminate the many ways in which we bring ourselves to Emmanuel — God with us and God coming to us — as we anticipate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem long ago.
Lighting the Advent Candles
Light one purple/blue candle We light again the Candle of Hope for the Christmas story shines hope on our lives and we bring all our stories to this circle.
Light the second purple/blue candle We light again the Candle of Peace to honor all the places where we have found peace in our lives and all the places for which we pray that peace may come.
Light the pink candle We light again the Candle of Joy to reflect on our celebrations in this season and to pray for those who experience feelings of loss and loneliness.
Light the third purple/blue candle We light again this Candle of Love because Jesus Christ was born into human loving and we are born again into the love of God.
Scripture (Luke 2: 1-7) In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Lighting the Christ Candle
The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem shows us how to hope, where to find and make peace, why our Christmas customs have meaning, and truly what it is to love. For on this night we meet Emmanuel, God coming and with us, who lifts us up and lets us shine.
O Holy God, we light the Christ candle. It shines on smiles and tears. It shines on younger and older. It shines and we hear angels. It shines and we see a manger. It shines and we remember the story. It shines on our world, like Bethlehem long ago. It can never be extinguished, because you are the candle tonight, and we promise to be the candle tomorrow. Amen.
Photo — Stories of Hope in Kittery, Maine