What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advent candle liturgy

A friend wrote to me inquiring about an Advent candle liturgy that my father used several years ago for the seminary Christmas service. While I remembered the gist of what Dad had said (in fact, I admit to having attempted to use it in a similar worship service in Greenpoint the following year), I certainly couldn't piece it together well enough to be used again.

To help fill in the gaps, my buddy and I wrote to my dad asking if he had a copy of the liturgy. He gladly shared the text with us, and I'm sharing it with you all now. Feel free to use it in your worship services, all I ask is that you attribute it to Dr. Norman Kansfield.

The darkness is, indeed, still in the world. It was not totally overcome by Jesus' birth, or by his death, or even by his resurrection. And that darkness continues to seek to destroy all that Jesus came to give to us.

Extinguish candle "Peace"

Peace is probably the most fragile of anything on earth. Wars continue easily to destroy it. But violent acts against others, or even violent words, or violent thoughts can also cause its death. Our darkness can quickly and easily destroy peace.

Extinguish the candle "Love"

Love is also easily destroyed. Selfishness, or its even more powerful sibling self-absorption can quickly put an end to love. So, too, can lack of concern, or lack of responsibility. "I don't care" is the most serious profaning of God's name.

Extinguish the candle "Hope."

The darkness can bring an end to hope. The future can be made to look bleak. The present can be made to look unpleasant and unmanageable. The arms of God, though always closely wrapped around us, can be obscured by the sense that our friends and family seem either not to understand, or not to care.

Extinguish the candle "Faith."

Even faith can give way in the face of darkness. Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, may seem more a theological reality that a power present in our lives and capable of allowing us to believe in the face of all that suggests there is nothing to be gained by believing.

Now, only the Christ candle remains lit. Light the candle or candle-lighter with which you are going to light the individual candles, and say:

But, the light still shines in the darkness. Jesus IS still with us, beside us, before us and behind us. There may be times when it seems as if the light is but a flickering spark, but it continues to live. And when we allow that light to live in us, to light our way, to illumine our decisions and to make our proclamation of Gospel compelling and attractive to those who most need the light. Then the light takes on again the capacity brightly to shine within our world. May this Christmastide find us bravely sharing the good news about him who is the Light of the World.


At 8:40 AM, Blogger Kathryn said...

That is lovely...and something that I feel could work around using a re igniting candle and birthday cake on Christmas Day...Would your father mind a loose adaptation? My theme was always going to be the light that shines in the darkness and cannot be put out....

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Ann said...

I'm sure my dad would be honored for you to adapt this to fit with what you're doing on Christmas Day.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger SingingOwl said...

Wow! It is too late for me to use this, but I will use it next year. Double WOW! That was powerful!


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