Light One Candle
OPENING HYMN: O Come All Ye Faithful LBW 45, verses 1 & 4
1. "Light one candle for Hope."
The psalmist sang, "What then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in
you." What is hope? The dictionary defines it as "confident anticipation
that what one desires will come about." What one desires will come about.
How does that fit what we read of hope in the Scriptures? Paul in his epistle
to the Romans wrote, "Everything written in the Scriptures was written
to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement
which the Scriptures give us." Hope for what? What do we Christians desire?
God's mercy. God's all encompassing love. Life eternal with God. Here is where
the difference between hoping and merely wanting shows. We have Christ's promise
that if we believe in Him, we will have all these things, and even more. Christ
promised that "whatever you ask in my name, you shall receive." Our
needs, the needs of others, our hearts' desires; all these we can confidently
anticipate receiving. No wonder Paul wrote, "Let your hope keep you joyful."
May God, the source of hope, give us all hope for a better world
and hope to those in our world who are hungry, homeless, in anguish
2. "Light one candle for Peace."
Turning again to the dictionary we find that peace is "freedom from strife
and controversy, tranquility, mental calm, serenity of mind." Is there
even one of us who does not sincerely want that? We all fear war; we are all
distressed by the hostilities and conflicts reflected in our rising crime rate
and the increasing acceptance of hate groups in our society. But peace must
begin with individuals. Of course, we must combat wars and crime on a governmental
basis, but those efforts can only be Band-Aids temporarily covering the real
source of trouble; the festering need of individuals for what they do not have,
peace within themselves. And the only way to achieve that is through God. Christ
said, "You will have peace by being united to me," and this is echoed
throughout Paul's letters. "Now that we have been put right with God through
faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," and "To
be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace." Controlled by
the Spirit. To turn to God, to seek and obey God's guidance, to do God's will
at all times in all things, to follow Christ, and then claim Christ's promise, "Peace
is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you."
May God the source of peace, give us all peace; in our families,
our church, our communities, between nations, races and generations;
3. "Light one candle for Joy."
Joy is defined as "great pleasure, gladness, delight, rejoicing." I
have never been able to understand those who would make the Christian religion
a grim, mirthless existence; who condemn obvious enjoyment of life as sinful
and unChristian. Sinful? Well, we all are, aren't we? We are, after all, human.
But unChristian? How can one be Christian and not be joyful? Whatever sorrows
or troubles we have, God will care for us, comfort us, support us, help us.
And God sent Jesus Christ to save us from the consequences of our own sinfulness.
Not rejoice? Why? Both the Old and New Testaments are full of injunctions to "dance
with joy," "rejoice," "rejoice and sing," rejoice
in the Lord." Surely the Christian just has to be a joy-filled person,
so much so that his/her joy spills over into the lives all around him/her.
May God, the source of joy, give joy to our hearts and our lives
so that we may share that joy with others. Amen.
4. "Light one candle for Love."
Did you ever look up "love" in the dictionary and see how much space
is used to define this little four-letter word? :"Affection, tenderness,
devotion"; it also includes "the infinite benevolence, goodwill,
mercifulness of the Creator toward mankind." Infinite goodwill. I like
that. The list for "love" in a Bible Concordance is also a long one.
Countless poems have been written, entire books written about love; what it
is, what it involves. So what do we say about it in a few minutes? Perhaps
we can sum it up by turning to some Bible passages: "We love because God
first loved us." "Love one another as I have loved you." "Love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your
mind." "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." God's love
is both a blessing and an obligation. It cannot be grasped and held; it must
be passed on and shared. As followers of Christ and servants of God, we must
love everyone. The Bible makes that unmistakably clear. And loving means caring
for. As John wrote, "Our love should not be just words and talk, it must
be true love, which shows itself in action."
HYMN: Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me, verses 1 & 2, LBW 336
5. "Light one candle for Christ."
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone
who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life." On that first
Christmas the angel proclaimed to some shepherds, "I am here with good
news for you, which will bring great joy to all people. This very day in David's
town your Savior was born, Christ the Lord." Jesus Christ, our Lord,
our Savior, the embodiment of everything we have discussed tonight. He is
the hope of the world. He is the visible proof of God's love, and His
life set an ideal
example of perfect love for us to strive toward. He is the source of
peace and the reason for joy. Christ lives. Christ lives in us. Praise
be to God.
May God, our Creator, help us to keep our lights shining so that
the world may find more Hope, Peace, Joy and Love through Jesus Christ,
light of the world. Amen.
HYMN: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, verses 1 & 3 LBW 60
This was originally presented as a Christmas program; hence the
use of Christmas hymns. It could, however, be used at other times of
year by substituting other, suitable hymns for the Christmas hymns.
This program lasts approximately 20 minutes as written here. It
can be made longer by calling for group discussion after each
short narration; close the discussion with the prayer and hymn, then
continue to the
section. One of our members began each section by singing a verse
If you cannot find the song, simply read the line at the beginning
of each section. The leader can read all the parts, or various
members can read one
narration each. We put an Advent wreath on a table, and lit one
candles at the beginning of each section, lighting the Christ candle
last. If you use
the program at another time of year, you can use five candles,
each in a separate candlestick, or a candelabra holding all five.