Sunday, December 23, 2007

updated (with a womens voice): moving four advent candles

I have just reworked our use of the Advent candles, to try and capture the movement and journey that is inherent in the Old Testament narratives. As a church, we have just finished a series on the Minor prophets, so it also serves to tie that into our Christmas preparation. And to involve the children.

I quite like it, and the way it connects narrative, Bible, movement and symbol. You?

A video will play, From Adam to Jesus (downloaded from here); offering a visual layer.

The 4 Advent candles will be given to 4 groups standing at different places in our worship space. Each group will have an adult and kids. Each group will say the words below, then come forward holding unlit advent candle high, place it in the Advent candle stand and lit it.

Candle A:
In the beginning, before Adam
God allowed for chaos
And storm and troubled times and fear of the dark

Then, when all was formless and empty, God spoke, “Let there be light”
candle is lit

Candle B:
In the course of time, through Abraham and Moses
God allowed for a journey
From home comfort to a promised land
From familiar family to a new nation

Then, when the journey was hardest, God spoke, through burning bush and Mt Sinai. And there was light.
candle is lit

Candle C:
In the course of time
Through David and many kings
When power was misused and the way ahead unclear
When the covenant was broken
And the ancient wells ignored

Still God spoke, The LORD is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1).
candle is lit

Candle D:
In the course of time, through the prophets, minor and major
In collectors cards and stoning prophets
In the pain of broken promises and the hard times of exile

God spoke, “The people walking in darkness will see a great light;
those living in the land of deep darkness will see the light dawn.” (Isa 9:2).
candle is lit

Updated – Another candle option: Replace any of the above with the following:
Down through time, through women brave and bold,
In the vulnerability of Tamar and the courage of Rahab
Because of the loyalty of Ruth and in the faith of Mary

God shone and the Spirit hovered and Mary conceived a son, “Who would save people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21). Candle is lit

Posted by steve at 04:06 PM


  1. I think it looks great and because it will involve people on so many levels (movement, smells, sounds, sights etc) it will be memorable too. I assume that the children are old enough and have been taught about what it is they are saying/trying to represent. I say this because I feel uneasy when children are given roles they do not understand. I love the use of light/hope to unify the Old Testament narratives. I have to admit I have often felt like I couldn’t understand the God portrayed in the Old Testament because He seemed angry and harsh, but now I may see things in a new light (at least now you don’t have to take the award for worst pun Steve).
    I’m sure it will go well tomorrow, Jack

    Comment by Jack — December 22, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  2. I really like this Steve.
    And very poetic.
    I think it could be improved by adding some women – currently it’s all masculine.
    Unlike Jack above, I think liturgy is constantly about we children being given roles we do not understand 🙂

    Christmas blessings

    Comment by Bosco Peters — December 26, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  3. Bosco,

    Thanks. that is probably the most helpful blog comment I’ve had this year as it pushes me in a whole new direction.

    re gender: i tried to use the 4 main themes of OT which are Abraham, leaving egypt, david and kings, prophets. but you are right, that has no women’s voice. so you’ve inspired me to play with an addition that would honour some of the womens voices of Jesus genealogy in Matthew 1.

    Down through time, through women brave and bold,
    In the vulnerability of Tamar and the courage of Rahab, Because of the loyalty of Ruth and in the faith of Mary

    God shone and the Spirit hovered and Mary conceived a son, “who would save people from their sins” (Matt 1:21) …………….

    It means I have lose the repeititon of Scriptures about light, but it does allow the 4th candle to be lit with a focus on Mary and leave us poised to light the Christ candle.

    What do you think?


    Comment by steve — December 28, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

  4. Jack,
    interesting point. if it was words to pray, i would want to give people more time to own them and to avoid forcing them to say things they won’t believe. but when they are a declaration of narrative and of scripture, i am happy to have them read knowing that they might not totally understand,

    that is based on my own realisation of my lack of knowledge. that i preach week by week and still feel that i have so much to learn and understand. Also Jesus calling Peter shows me that faith can be entered into even while it is not fully grasped.

    as long as their is grace for people to not feel they have to be hypocritical.


    Comment by steve — December 28, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  5. Steve,
    I like the change to honour women’s voices, not sure which one to replace though – maybe the last. Perhaps the ‘light’ theme could be incorporated more into the last line of your new option – it does say ‘shone’ and maybe you could add “… conceived a son, a light to the world “who saved ….” Just an idea, I don’t really know my Scriptures that well.
    Could you also explain what you meant by “grace for people to not feel they have to be hypocritical.” Thanks, and I hope you had a good Christmas, Jack

    Comment by Jack — December 29, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

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