A Simple Advent Candle Lighting for Home or Church based on Howard Thurman’s “I will Light Candles this Christmas” and “This is Christmas” from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

(I have spent the year reflecting on the words of Howard Thurman, some of the less familiar ones. It has been a profound blessing. Here is a simple offering mostly … this late in the season, just for the home Advent Wreath.)

First Sunday in Advent

I light one candle here for hope
and it is like a small lamp,
lighting a bedside table with open book,
after a long day,
the glow of heart monitor in ICU,
a headlamp for a hiker on an unfamiliar trail,
or a miner down a shaft,
a toddler’s paw-patrol nightlight,
or early-morning oven in a bakery.

We light one candle so we will remember
to notice this week’s ordinary lights of hope.

For ordinary and available to all
is the hope of Advent.

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long. (Howard Thurman)

Second Sunday in Advent

I light two candles this week
to illuminate peace.

For as God lights both gentle dawn
and a slash of lightning strike,
we affirm all the ways we seek peace –

kind persuasion with eye contact,
and a justice march with big signs,
a silent vigil of prayer and fasting,
and the gift of food, toys, or dignity
for the most vulnerable,
our quiet visits to therapist or recovery group,
and loud demands to change gun laws.

We light two candles so we will listen
to the angel mandate of ‘Peace on Earth.’

For ordinary, available, gentle and brave,
are the hope and peace of Advent.

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long. (Howard Thurman)

Third Sunday in Advent

I will light three candles
to sparkle with joy.
For God lights constellations
and the tips of angel wings
light years far away,
and light years as near as breath.

We light (and help to blow out)
ninety-five candles on a birthday cake,
the high circle of a Ferris wheel,
the smile of a pumpkin,
marshmallow of a ‘smore,
branches of a Christmas tree,

and the luminarias that say ­
this is a home/church that welcomes all,
every age, race, education,
ability, orientation, ethnic origin,
gender identity, job status,

old friend or stranger becoming new one,
those who claim their history
and their identity,
others who close their lips to listen
and feel the joy in their hearts.

We raise three candles,
and know we cannot do it by ourselves
for each of us have only two hands.

For ordinary, available, gentle, brave,
and with wide-open doors,
is the hope, peace and joy of Advent.

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long. (Howard Thurman)

Fourth Sunday in Advent

I will light four candles
and I will be willing to light
every taper in my life,
for love asks for all that is needed
and then … for everything else,

for this is how incarnation happens,
how God comes.

We light four candles
or a hundred or a thousand more
whatever it takes
to remind ourselves to live in love.

As ordinary and gentle as the holy welcome
that turns the world upside down,
comes hope, peace, joy, and love
to illuminate our Advent.

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long. (Howard Thurman)

Christmas Eve – the Lighting of the Christ Candle

We have gathered at this wreath
all this Advent season to light candles.

We claim that Emmanuel, God with us
is Light and Darkness in a world
that must work and rest
be generous and self-careful,
experience tears and laughter,
in order to share
both the hurt and humor of others.
from the deep place of knowing it.

Let us light these candles on this holy night.

I light the candle of hope,
and hopelessness cannot hide.

I light the candle of peace,
and expose hatred as fear turned inside out.

I light the candle of joy,
and everyone is welcome with a smile,
a moment of beauty or wonder.

I light the candle of love,
and hands are clasped around the world.

THIS IS CHRISTMAS
The evergreen singing aloud its poem of constant renewal,
The festive mood spreading lilting magic everywhere,
The gifts of recollection calling to heart the graces of life,
The star in the sky calling to mind the wisdom of hope,
The warmth of candlelight glowing against the darkness,
The birth of a child linking past to future,
The symbol of love absorbing all violence
THIS IS CHRISTMAS (Howard Thurman)

O Holy God, we light the Christ candle.
It shines on smiles and tears.
It shines into the lives of everyone.
It shines and we remember the story.
It shines around angels
who sing for the most vulnerable,
and guides the long traveling
of those from far away.

It shines on a manger,
a child and parents,
with animals gathered all around.
It shines on here and now people
just like Bethlehem long ago.

It can never be extinguished,
because, Christ, you are tonight’s candle,
and we promise –
to lift our wicks to tomorrow’s flame.

Amen.

The children are not sure how many candles they will need. Neither are we.
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15 Responses to A Simple Advent Candle Lighting for Home or Church based on Howard Thurman’s “I will Light Candles this Christmas” and “This is Christmas” from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

  1. Pejj Nunes says:

    Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Linda Barnes says:

    Dear Maren, I’m grateful for these Advent candle readings! They are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. mbmankin says:

    This is beautiful! Thank you! I will share it with others.

  4. Maren says:

    That would be lovely! Thanks.

  5. Philip Hobson says:

    Beautiful. I love Thurman’s work, and this is so accessible. Thank you.

  6. castylesyahoocom says:

    O Maren! Thank you. What a wonderful gift for a year when nothing til this felt right. My congregation will be blest. And I am finally inspired to move into advent.

    • Maren says:

      I am so very glad. It was so late before I discovered what I needed to write this year, far too late for many churches. I thought perhaps I should just not do one. But I waited and then it suddenly seemed right to me. I am so honored that it will work for your church and please feel free to adapt or abridge or add as is best for your context.

  7. Pingback: Welcome to (r)Advent – New Wineskins

  8. Pingback: (r)Advent Week 1: Hope – New Wineskins

  9. Pingback: Pandemic Prayers for the Second Sunday of Advent – Cooking with Elsa

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