Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy and Daily Devotions for Week 4

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 Love

Lighting the Fourth Advent Candle – LOVE

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 three candles.

We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.

Light the fourth candle.

We now light the candle of love even when many things dim our flame of love.

name places, issues, concerns, and people that need the healing power of unconditional love

God’s love illuminates hatred with a compassionate heart and lights the wick of love in our lives so that we may shine on the world with the flame of unconditional love.  Amen


Monday Dec. 21  LOVE

‘Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.’ 

                                                                                         1 John 4:8

This is a fundamental understanding of the Christian faith.  God is love.  We see that love in Jesus.  And he reminds us that we, too, are created to love. 

While this season may involve giving lots of gifts, and this year, that might involve sending lots of packages, here we pause.   And we ask, How am I sharing love in the world?  We are here to love, to be love, to give love.  So how are we embodying that love to others?  It may very well be in a wrapped gift, sent through the mail.  But there is so much more than that.

And while we are thinking of the love we have to give and share, we need to think about how we are loving ourselves.  How are we tending the flame of love within us? 

Prayer

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the birth of love, may we feel the love within us rekindled.  And may we, too, birth love into the world.  Amen.


Tuesday Dec. 22   LOVE

‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’

Genesis 22:2

The verse above is the first time in the Bible that the word ‘love’ is used.  And what a story!  Abraham is told to take his only child, Isaac, into the wilderness as a sacrifice.  Once at the site, a ram appears caught in the thicket and Abraham is told to sacrifice the ram and not his son.  This brutal story is echoed in the story of God giving up Jesus as a sacrifice.  Love is not all hearts and rainbows.  Real love is messy.  It involves sacrifice.  It causes pain.  To live a life of love does not mean a life that is pain-free.  So while we celebrate love this season, we are aware that love involves pain and grief. 

This year we especially remember families who have lost loved ones to covid and as well as other causes.  We remember those who cannot be with loved ones.  Much love.  Much sadness.

Prayer

Love is our primary purpose as human beings.  We pray that we might give ourselves over to love, receive the gift, give the gift, even knowing it will involve pain and grief.  To avoid pain we may deny our deepest humanity and the humanity of others. And that causes a different kind of suffering.  May we remember that there is also healing and meaning and purpose and joy in love.  Amen.


Wednesday Dec. 23   LOVE

‘This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.’

John 15:12

In Jesus, we see a love that crosses boundaries, builds bridges, and overcomes divisions and labels assigned by society.  How we need that kind of love in our world and in our country now! 

As we await the celebration of Christmas, these last few days of anticipation, may we remember that Christmas really is for everyone.  Love is for everyone or it isn’t really love. 

Prayer

May we open ourselves to the love that is being given to the world at Christmas.  May we remember that love is for everyone.  No one is left out or forgotten.  Amen. 


Thursday Dec. 24   LOVE

‘And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’

                                                                        1 Corinthians 13:13

It’s Christmas Eve.  Maybe a happy time for you.  Maybe a sad time.  Maybe a festive time.  Maybe more subdued.  Maybe there is disappointment.  Maybe gratitude.  Maybe your feelings are mixed.  Whatever you are feeling this Christmas Eve, look for the love.  Maybe you have to dig a little.  Maybe it’s covered or hidden.  Maybe it’s not where you expected to find it.  But search it out.  Love is the heart of Christmas and it is most certainly present!

Prayer

Whatever may please or disappoint this Christmas, may we look for the love.  It is there.  Everywhere.  And it is the only thing that really matters.  Amen.


Friday Dec. 25  CHRISTMAS DAY!

Celebrate the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love that you are being given this Christmas!

List all the ways you are receiving these gifts today!

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy and Daily Devotions for Week 3

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 Joy

Lighting the Third Advent Candle – JOY

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 two candles.

We light the candles of hope and peace.

Light a third candle.

We now light the candle of joy in spite of missing so many things we thought were essential to a merry Christmas

name the traditions, people, and activities that you are missing this year

God’s joy ignites embers under loss and sorrow and lights the wick of joy in our lives so that we may shine on the world – a simple smile and unexpected laughter – and brighten the path toward joy.   Amen.


Monday Dec. 14   JOY

‘Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.’ 

Luke 17:15-16

In the story of Jesus healing the 10 people who have leprosy, one of those healed comes back to Jesus rejoicing and praising God.  A joyous scene is portrayed. 

Jesus comes to heal and make us whole.  He comes to heal our wounds of hurt feelings and desperation.  He comes to heal the past which can control us to our detriment.  He comes to heal relationships and bring reconciliation.  He comes to make us whole when we have been battered and bruised by people in our lives who were to care for us.  He come to make us whole when we have been beaten down by attitudes and systems in society that seek to suppress us. 

Jesus comes to heal us and lift us up so that we are filled with joy.

This invites us to consider where we need healing in our lives.  What hurt and pain do we bear?  Maybe you want to jot down where you may need healing in your life.  How would you like to experience the healing power of Jesus that leads to joy? 

Prayer

Healing involves change.  Embracing a new reality.  Sometimes we fear change.  We become used to our aches and pains, our grudges and biases.  May we open ourselves to healing so that we may know joy!  Amen. 


Tuesday Dec. 15   JOY

‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;             break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;             the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands;            let the hills sing together for joy. . .’

                                                                                   Psalm 98:4,7

‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come!’

It’s a Christmas favorite and in our church we usually sing it at Easter, too! 

In this rousing hymn heaven, nature, Earth, fields, floods, rocks, hills, and plains along with humanity join in praise and joy for the wonder of God’s love in Jesus Christ. 

This carol celebrates that Jesus brings joy not only to humanity but to all of Creation.  It is a sentiment that prods us out of our anthropocentrism.  All of nature is rejoicing.  Jesus comes not just for people but for the whole world. 

While there are days that we may not feel much joy, nature continues to resound with joy – trees growing, animals building homes and nests, mycelium breaking down vegetable matter, creating soil, and sending messages to trees.  Yes, there are days when we don’t want to get out of bed, but nature continues to offer praise and joy. 

We can let nature lift us up.  We are part of nature, so our joy is to go on reveling in life no matter what the circumstances. 

Heaven and nature sing.  Repeat the sounding joy.  Of the wonders of God’s love.  May we join nature in joy and praise!

You are invited to note where you see joy in nature today. 

Prayer

All of nature resounds with joy.  Jesus brings abundant life and joy.  May we join nature in celebrating the wonders of God’s love.  Amen. 


Wednesday Dec. 16  JOY

‘Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.’

                                                                                    Matthew 2:11

This is the season of gift giving.  We especially think about giving gifts to children – toys, books, games.  I can remember when our children were young, one Christmas there were so many gifts we could not open them all on Christmas Day and had to continue the gift opening orgy the day after Christmas. 

That Christmas led to some soul searching.  What were we doing with all of those gifts?  What message was this sending?  It was certainly perpetuating consumerism and materialism – completely at odds with the teachings of Jesus and the message of the Gospel.  All those presents?  This is not what Jesus would want.

The next year, we got one ‘big’ gift for each child.  We spent much of the day at the local park, in the fenced in tennis courts, with the dog running loose, one child riding a new scooter and  one with new roller blades.  We had a wonderful time.

So, what are we looking for when we think about joy?  What brings us joy?  Are we thinking about something humongous and stupendous?  Are we thinking about material wealth and security?  Are we thinking about a miracle?  Or are we thinking about something simple. 

Survey your life.  Examine your expectations.  Jesus brings joy.  Are you open to receiving it or are you missing it, preoccupied and distracted by other things and missing the joy that you are being given?

Maybe you can make a list of where you are finding joy in the living of your days – even with the restrictions of covid.  Maybe even because of the restrictions of covid!

Prayer

Jesus comes to bring us joy.  Maybe sometimes we miss the gift we are being given.  May we open our eyes and our hearts to the joy that is being given to us.  Amen.


Thursday Dec. 17  JOY

‘David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their kindred as the singers to play on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise loud sounds of joy.’

I Chronicles 15:16

The Christmas season is known for its music.  What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?  Sleigh Ride?  We Three Kings?  Feliz Navidad?  Music expresses the joy of Christmas.  Maybe some years we put on Christmas music to reflect our joy at this season.  Maybe this year we need to play more Christmas music to help us feel the joy.  Remember the joy.  Rekindle the joy.  So, what is on your Christmas play list?  Are you making sure to listen to some Christmas music each day?

Think about how you are feeling right now.  Put on some Christmas music.  How do you feel after listening to it?  Hopefully, it gave you a lift! 

Prayer

Music is a divine gift of expression.  We give thanks for artists and musicians who lift our spirits through their creativity.  This season, we especially give thanks for Christmas music which connects us to the past and lifts our spirits in this moment.  Amen. 


Friday Dec. 18  JOY

‘Today salvation has come to this house. . .’ 

Luke 19:9

The story of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus is a favorite.  The story exudes joy.  Zacchaeus is a rich outcast.   He climbs a tree to see Jesus.  Jesus treats him with dignity and respect.  His humanity is affirmed.  Over a shared meal.  That’s it.  No hocus pocus.  Or sacrificial penance.  Or groveling.  Jesus simply treats Zacchaeus as a person created in the image of God.  And Zaccheaus is overjoyed.  He is so grateful, he responds with lavish generosity for the poor and restitution to anyone he has defrauded.  This story shows us joy that is simple, powerful, and profound.

Over the holidays, even during covid, we want to try to keep things simple.  We can bring joy to others simply through respecting and affirming their humanity.  Is there someone in your life that you can uplift with joy in this simple way?

Prayer

Jesus comes to bring us joy by affirming who we are; each a unique child of God.  May we receive this gift and share it with others.  Amen. 


Saturday Dec. 19   JOY

‘I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’

                                                                                    John 15:11

Many people think of religion as something hard, difficult, burdensome, constraining, and judgmental.  Go to church?  That’s like asking to be pinched. 

But Jesus came to bring joy.  He came to lift people up not slap them down.  He came to bear witness to the abundance and goodness of the realm of God.  It’s not surprising that he was known for his eating and drinking and partying!

If following Jesus makes you feel bitter and cheated, if it makes you feel privileged and entitled, well, maybe you are missing something. 

Following Jesus should lead us to be filled with humble joy. 

Give some thought to how your walk with Jesus brings more joy into your life.

Prayer

Jesus shows a life filled with joyful abandon.  He shows us how to celebrate the presence of Divine Love in our lives and in our world.  May our faith reflect the joy of Jesus.  Amen. 

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy and Daily Devotions for Week 2

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 Peace

Lighting the Second Advent Candle – PEACE

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.  

Light a second candle.

We now light the candle of peace in spite of. . .

name those things, places, and concerns that call out for peace

God’s peace illuminates the possibility of reconciliation and healing and lights the wick of peace in our lives so that we may shine on the world and brighten the path toward peace.   Amen.


Monday Dec. 7  PEACE

‘. . .they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks’

Isaiah 2:4

December 7 is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor marking the entrance of the US into World War 2. 

Since then, wars have continued to erupt like a bad infection.  Now, instead of blatant attacks and bold overthrows, it seems like we have a continuous state of low grade war in many places in the world.  And since the world has become ever more a global community, these wars involve many different countries and interests.  And with the growing impacts of global climate change, this situation will only get worse. 

It seems that the days of war, with a beginning and a middle and an end, are over. 

One of the lessons that peacemakers have been trying to teach for centuries is that bombs don’t end war.  They don’t stop war.  They don’t eradicate war as a policy option.  War does not create peace.  Justice and human rights may create peace.  But we are investing so much in armaments and the military, we are sowing and growing war, not peace. 

How can we rekindle the dream of peace?  How can we honor Jesus as the Prince of Peace?  How can we turn turn our swords into plowshares?  The birth of Jesus was the birth of this possibility.  How can we make it a reality?

Prayer

May we seek to be peacemakers.  In our individual lives.  In our communities.  And, yes, even between countries and peoples. Jesus shows us that another world is possible.  Amen.  


Tuesday Dec. 8  PEACE

‘Glory to God in high heaven! And on earth, peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.’

Luke 2:14

This beautiful image from the Christmas story seems idyllic and pastoral.  But actually shepherds were the lowest rung of the economic and social ladder.  Almost outcasts.  Underpaid.  Overworked.  Expendable.  Not a group associated with God’s favor.  And yet that is the first group of people who receive the good news of the birth of Jesus. 

This story tells us that the birth of Jesus was intended to be good news to people who are at the bottom; who are marginalized and forgotten.  So how do we share good news with those who need it most today?  Is that part of our Christmas planning and celebrating?  I hope so!

The Christmas story is about peace for the poor.  Hard to square with the enormous over- shopping for consumer extravagances this season. 

Can we cultivate a greater sensitivity to the people who are made poor who live in our midst?   Can we listen to their stories?  Can we honor their dignity?  Can we receive good news from those made poor? 

Prayer

We are told that Jesus was poor.  He lived and worked among those made poor.  May our view of reality include all strata of society and may we see our common humanity.  Amen. 


Wednesday Dec. 9  PEACE

‘The peace of Christ be with you.’

This is said many times in church.  The peace of Christ.  We want to remember that Jesus was hunted down, arrested, put through a sham trial, and given the death penalty in a public and humiliating way.   Yes, the story of Jesus has violence and torture and suffering in it.  So, where is the peace? 

We want to think about peace as doing what you need to do, what you know is right and good and true, no matter the consequences.  There is peace of soul and spirit even in circumstances of violence when you know you are doing what is right, what is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, what is loving.  Even if it leads to trouble; what the late John Lewis would call good trouble. 

Maybe if your life is devoid of good trouble, you are not really living peacefully!

Prayer

May we live peacefully even when there are risks and costs.  Sometimes we are being given peace in our hearts even though our lives seem turbulent and unsteady.  Amen.


Thursday Dec. 10   PEACE

‘ . . they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid. . .’

Micah 4:4

So, if no one was killed that you know of today, was it a peaceful day?  Is there peace in our city if there are no murders?  That is not how our faith teaches us to think about peace.

The Christian concept of peace comes from the Jewish concept of shalom.  Shalom means peace but it implies not just the absence of violence and threat.  Shalom implies individual and communal well-being.  Shalom indicates the conditions that lead to thriving and flourishing life. 

The Biblical concept of peace doesn’t just mean there is no war and no violence including in the home.  It means that there is access to human rights, health care, self determination, equality, a clean, safe environment, education, the arts, safe food, and housing. 

Law and order may have to do with limiting violence but it is not really about peace because peace has to do with fomenting what is good not just stopping what is bad. 

Most crime is committed by people who are not thriving and flourishing.  They are usually desperate in some way and in need of compassion and support from society. 

When everyone is fed and clothed and housed and treated with dignity and respect, then there will be much more peace in the world.  And with that peace there will be less violence. 

How can you be a part of creating more peace in the world by helping to create conditions more conducive to the flourishing of life for those who are being underserved and ignored?  Does that bring you some peace? 

Prayer

On this first day of Hanukkah, we join with our Jewish sisters and brothers in seeking shalom for all of Creation.  May the light of peace shine brightly.  Amen.


Friday Dec. 11   PEACE

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’

John 14:27

How does the world give peace? Having wealth is perceived as assured peace – physical peace and inner peace –  knowing that you can meet your material needs and have access to resources that can keep you safe and healthy.  If you have financial stability and security, that is perceived as peace.

With Jesus, we are told that he may have owned one cloak and no house.  So, where is the peace in that?  Not knowing where your next meal is coming from?  Not having a permanent home? 

The peace Jesus is talking about is quite different.  Maybe there is peace in living your life for others, for the common good.  Maybe there is peace in living harmoniously with the Earth.  Maybe there is peace in forgiveness instead of holding grudges and seeking retribution.  Maybe there is peace in material simplicity.   Maybe there is peace in acceptance and understanding instead of exceptionalism and superiority.  And all of that peace has nothing to do with a bank account or an address or a title. 

Think about peace in your life.  Do you feel peaceful?  Where do you need peace in your life?   Do you need to think about the concept of peace in a different way?

Prayer

In Jesus, we are given peace.  Peace which passes all understanding.  May we open ourselves to the peace Jesus seeks to give to us.  Amen.


Saturday Dec. 12   PEACE

“God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:52-53

Today, millions of North Americans will celebrate the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  She is the Mary that is the patron saint of Mexico and she is beloved the world over.  Part of her appeal is that her story challenges white privilege, colonialism, patriarchy, and racism.  She gets her way with the European-dominated male hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 

Guadalupe pretty much does what Jesus does – challenging the hierarchy and patriarchy of his day and lifting up the lowly so that they are treated with dignity and respect. 

Prayer

Like the Virgin of Guadalupe, may we have the courage and persistence to challenge the systems of oppression that diminish life and dignity especially the life and dignity of people of color.  Amen. 

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy and Daily Devotions for Week 1

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.’

                           Job 14:7

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? 

Prayer

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.

Prayer

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. . .’

                                                                                   Deuteronomy 15:15

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.

Prayer

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.’

Psalm 90:4

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. . .]

Prayer

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.’

Proverbs 12:18

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.

Prayer

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. 

Prayer

The darker it is, the brighter the stars.  In these trying times, may our hope shine ever more brightly.  Amen.

LUCC Corona Daily Prayer

photo 3In response to the COVID-19 virus, the congregation is recommending that everyone in the church family pause at 9:00 a.m. each day, light a candle if you can (or put on the light on your cell phone. . .), and offer the prayer which follows.  Doing this together in spirit will help us to feel connected and bonded as a congregation.  You are encouraged to respond with a comment as part of our connecting as a church family and beyond.    

This devotion is based on the mission statement of Lakewood United Church of Christ.

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ as part of the Church Universal –

In this time of global pandemic we realize that around the world people are facing the same threat.  We are in solidarity as a species with common vulnerability.  We are all at risk and we are all needed to cooperate in our response. 

May we celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives and in our world –

We see the presence of Infinite Love the world over as people comply with drastic restrictions for the good of family, neighbors, friends, strangers, and even enemies.  We give thanks for the sacrifice of so many especially in the medical science and healthcare professions.  We are grateful for the generosity of compassion and care that we see around us. 

May we offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people –

In this time of social distancing, isolation, and quarantine may we reach out in love especially to those who feel lost, alone, and forgotten. 

May we be mindful of the hardship this situation creates for children and families as well as elders.

May we extend kindness and compassion to those we encounter and may we convey support to our leaders, healthcare workers, and all those working to sustain society.

May we work for God’s peace and justice throughout Creation –

We realize that the restrictions and limitations forced upon us by this threat hit some people much harder than others.  Disparities in access to healthcare, technology, and financial resources magnify the suffering facing humanity at this time.  May we be aware and responsive to the needs of others as we are able.

We are also mindful that this time of reduced human activity is providing respite and renewal for the natural world which sustains us.

May this experience of unprecedented global threat strengthen the bonds of the web of life and deepen our connection to Infinite Love.  Amen.