Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy

By: Bethany Apelquist

This liturgy was created by Rev. Bethany Apelquist, a long-time member of the Mercy Community who now pastors a church in Warner Robins, GA. Bethany’s church community is using Mercy’s devotionals throughout the season of Advent and she wanted to incorporate themes and quotes from the devotionals into her candle-lighting liturgy. Please enjoy or feel free to use them in your own church communities.

Week One of Advent: Hope

Today we light the first candle of our advent season, the hope candle. What is hope? Hope in the words of Isaiah looks like taking our swords and transforming them into plowshares, or tools of peace and love. Ivan Cooley writes this week “so now I can put down my sword, pick up my plow, and get the ground ready for seeds of love that have been planted in my life. I will lay down my spear and use a pruning hook to maintain this love and keep it beautiful. I will love ALL people, and I will study war no more.”  We light this candle with that hope that Ivan speaks of ringing in our hearts.

Week Two of Advent: Peace

Today we light the second candle of our advent season, the peace candle. What is peace? Peace is what God wants for each one of us. David Swank writes “These types of wars seem like a never ending thing. People are fighting over the money and power they want to gain for themselves, spending billions on utter foolishness, where there are thousands of poor and needy people in dire need of important necessities such as food, clothing, and hygiene products. But, I trust that God wants better for us- that God wants us to care for one another.” We light this candle with the vision of Peace, something better for us and for our world.

Week Three of Advent: Joy

Today we light the third candle of our advent season, the Joy candle. What is Joy? Joy is what we hear in the words of Mary’s prayer, when she says “in the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.” Isaiah Lewis writes “(Mary) takes joy in the radical mercy God is showing everyone” he goes on to say that Mary outlines this joy as “oppressive and oppressed people being up on equal footing, and everyone having enough to eat” We light the Joy candle with the joy of Mary’s prayer for a future that is marked by love and justice.

Week Four of Advent: Love

Today we light the fourth candle of our advent season, the Love candle. What is love? Love is the freedom that Jesus users into this world. Jennifer Arnold writes “Jesus’s death reminds us that when there is big enough love, death is not the final word. Resurrection reminds us that love will always win. When we rest in the truth of everlasting love that cannot die we are finally free.” We light the Love Candle remembering God’s never ending love for us.

The Christ Candle

Tonight, on the eve of the birth of our savior we light the Christ Candle. Who is Christ? Christ is the light of the world born to us to reveal God to us. Pastor Brittany writes “That’s how God comes to be with us– delivered by a poor weary women… it reveals the depth of God’s love for human beings, that relational, earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting, messy, every-day love, and that changes everything. We light the Christ Candle holding the hope, peace, joy and love that Christ brings into our weary world.

Sunday, December 1st

By: Chad Hyatt
Matthew 24:36-44
Reflection – v. 37 ‘as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man’

Apocalypse does not portend the end of the world. It literally means ‘revelation.’ This is not just a technical point: apocalyptic language reveals, uncovering the truth about our reality and the times in which we live—however strange and obscure the language may seem. That brings us to a second point. Apocalypse is about our times—not the end-times. To put the apocalypse off into the future robs its dramatic power and shields us from its call to action. Worse, it leaves us numb to the truth of God’s liberating activity in our present. Apocalyptic language helps us diagnose the truth of our times, determining where God is in the seeming chaos of our world. While images of many-headed beasts and earth-shaking signs may seem strange, even frightening, that language may help us to name the beastly power of systems and institutions and currents of racism that threaten human community, sending shockwaves around the globe. This language grabs our attention with ultimate urgency so that we might see that our own times are as critical as the ‘days of Noah’ or the end of the world—for these are our days and this is our world. Right now and right here is where the drama of our salvation unfolds. Apocalyptic literature gives us language to name the truth that we must work for justice when it seems the world is on fire. We are called to live out our faith besieged by forces that are bigger than us—but not bigger than our God.

Prayer: Help us, God of truth, to see our world as it is.