This Advent season of 2020 the focus is on rekindling the gift of God. We certainly need our spiritual grounding and the gifts of faith to sustain us during these difficult times.
There is a ritual for lighting the Advent wreath each Sunday. Then there is a reading for each day of the week based on the theme of the week’s candle.
May we rekindle the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love this Advent season!
Rekindle the Gift of Hope
The Advent Candle Lighting Ceremony for 2020 comes from Rev. Maren Tirabassi, a United Church of Christ pastor and poet in New England. It has been adapted.
Some kind of arrangement of 4 candles is needed. Each week another candle is lit to mark the time of waiting for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Lighting the First Advent Candle – HOPE
In our homes we gather around wreaths to pray our lost hopes, broken peace, limited joys, and love so hard to find and share, in this season of coronavirus. We affirm that our candles mean we claim the power to call this season Advent when God’s light comes into the world and nothing can overcome it.
Light one candle.
We light the candle of hope in the face of. . .
name those places, people, and concerns where hope is needed
God’s hope shines on hopelessness, and lights the wick of hope in our lives
so that we may shine on the world and brighten the path with hope. Amen.
Monday Nov. 30 HOPE
‘For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again and that its shoots will not cease.’
Hope is an interesting concept because it is associated with the time. Hope is about the future. We hope for things in the future. For things to come. We don’t say, ‘I hope I can loose 10 pounds last year.’ That is silly. We might say, ‘I hope I can loose 10 pounds in the next year.’ The Advent season is a season of preparation for the a future event. So it is by nature a season of hope. Of looking forward. And it is a time to ask ourselves what are we preparing for. What kind of future are we expecting?
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, what are you hoping for? Are your hopes consistent with the hopes and dreams of Jesus? If not, how can you work on that?
In this season of Advent, may our hope be rekindled for a future in which the love, compassion, and healing of Jesus transform our precious world. Amen.
Tuesday Dec. 1 HOPE
‘Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you. . .’
1 Corinthians 6:19
This is World AIDS Day. Remember AIDS? Now it is very much overshadowed by covid but AIDS continues to ravage lives in St. Petersburg and around the world. The incidence in St. Petersburg is actually on the rise.
So, where is there hope in the face of this terrible disease? A disease which is completely preventable? Maybe the covid crisis will foster a greater interest in health and safety. Maybe treatments will become more widely available for both diseases. Maybe people will realize that they don’t want to avoid covid just to contract AIDS. Maybe wearing a mask will have the ripple effect of making people think about wearing a condom.
Of course the more hope you have for the future, the more likely you are to tend to your health today. Give some thought to what you are looking forward to and how that encourages you to care for your health.
In these days of covid our attention is being re-focused on health. We pray for all those suffering from covid and its many ripple effects. We pray for all those impacted by AIDS and its devastating effects. May we be attentive to care for our bodies so that we can live out the hopes and dreams of God for us and the world. Amen.
Wednesday Dec. 2 HOPE
‘Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you. . .’
Yes, hope is about the future, but hope is also about the past. In the Hebrew scriptures, the people are continually being reminded of what God has done for them in the past. This remembering helps to keep hope alive for what God will do for them in the future. Looking back to see the good in our lives and in our collective history can help to keep our hope alive in difficult times.
Name some things in the past that give you hope for the future.
So often we allow ourselves to be caught in a cycle of remembering what is bad, unfair, hurtful, and destructive in the past. But there is also another reality of the goodness and love that has marked the past. This Advent season, may we choose to see the good so that we may face the future with hope. Amen.
Thursday Dec. 3 HOPE
‘A thousand years in your sign are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.’
Sometimes it seems that our reality is confined to the news cycle. Each day, a new barrage of issues, events, and concerns. A batch for today. A new one for tomorrow. And the politics which surround us seem bound by the election cycle. Instead of doing what is best for the country, elected officials seem to do what will get them re-elected. In many ways our culture is very short sighted. It’s about today. Yesterday. Tomorrow. We are not usually thinking decades, centuries or millennia ahead. Or behind.
But hope has a broad range. It can be about yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But the branching out of hope can be rooted far back into the past. And hope can extend far into the future. At Christmas we remember a birth over 2000 years ago. And that birth was the realization of centuries of hoping and waiting. In the long dark nights of this Advent season, may we free our vision to roam far into the past and to extend far into the future.
What are your hopes for a year from now? 20 years? How about for the year 2525? [There was a song about that. . .]
In this Advent season, may our hopes be rekindled – dreams as close as a newborn child and as far away as the stars. Amen.
Friday Dec. 4 HOPE
‘Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.’
Hope can be as near as our next breath. Sometimes I find myself hoping that the next thing that comes out of my mouth will be helpful, honest, and constructive. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will not let something hurtful out of my mouth. Hope can be very much in the moment. And when our hopes do not come to fruition? We will probably have another opportunity, get another try, have another go of it.
The holiday season can be fraught. We want to say the right thing. Give the right gift. Offer the right consolation. Give the right encouragement. In a time laden with so many expectations and troubles. Have hope that you can help to keep the flame of hope alive for someone else this Advent season.
Sometimes it is difficult to maintain our hopes. There are so many disappointments and failures. May we continue to try to witness to the love and compassion of Jesus. And may our efforts help to keep hope alive for others. Amen.
Saturday Dec. 5 HOPE
‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’
This line from the well-beloved carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, reminds us that Jesus was born in a time of hope and fear. People were very much afraid in the context of Jesus’ birth. The occupation by the Roman Empire was like having someone kneel on your neck. But there were also many would- be messiahs in Jesus’ day. The fear sparked hope. People wanted to see deliverance.
We are living in fearful, perilous times. Between the pandemic and global warming, along with other threats, it is a scary time. But the story of Jesus reminds us that fear can also breed hope. So in these dark days, let us expect light – from ourselves and others.
The darker it is, the brighter the stars. In these trying times, may our hope shine ever more brightly. Amen.