One of my favourite liturgical practices is lighting advent candles, or rather seeing others light them. We sometimes let the children do such tasks but when adults do it there is often that same look of wonder! One of our friends, Ray Simpson writes Celtic liturgy. He has written some advent candle prayers that are really helping me reflect on the meaning of advent. My responses to the prayers are included below:
1 This is the light of longing: may our hopes for all that is good come to pass
(each person may say or think of a good thing they long for)
I long for the church to recover some of her mission in the world and be a place of welcome, acceptance and belonging and to be a light in dark places.
What do you long for?
2 This is the candle of expecting: may all that prophets foretold come to pass
(each person may say or think of a promise in the Bible of something God will do)
As we look forward to celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace my expecting is about peace, sometimes it seems such a far off dream but the violence in the world is such an indictment of a humanity made in the image of a God of love.
What are you expecting God will do?
3 This is the candle of preparing: may all that gets in the way of God be cleared from our lives
(each person may say or think of something they wish to get rid of)
I love the Christmas story as so often the angel says “fear not”. What I want to get rid of is those times I unnecessarily fear, usually over things that I have no control over and fear is utterly pointless. I want the trust and expectant hope that we also find in the Christmas story – after the angel has visited!
What do you want to get rid of?
4 This is the candle of hearing: as Mary let Jesus be born in her, may we let his presence be born amongst us
(in silence each person invites Jesus be born anew in their hearts)
In the silence I hope that Jesus is born anew in greater measure so that when we come to light the fourth candle this time next year I see more of Christ in my life.
How do you want Jesus to be born anew in your life?
5 This is the candle of Christ, the light of the world, who has come amongst us today.
This always reminds me of John 1.14, what difference does it make that Jesus moved into our neighbourhood and that our church is called to embody this?
Ray Simpson Celtic Worship Through the Year. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, p.247.