Advent Candle Liturgy 1: Hope

Welcome to the first of my "25 Days of Watchfulness" advent blogs... and to the first of 5 liturgies for lighting the candles on the advent wreath... I was first introduced to this way of marking out advent when I was a nipper via the BBC Childrens programme Blue Peter, with its Advent Candle holder made out of wire coat hangers... But my home church was so non-liturgical that I was an adult before I learnt that it actually had some spiritual significance!
The different candles stand for different things in different liturgies... This year I'm using a format which I unashamedly swiped from Jeanyne Slettom's liturgy posted on the Process and Faith site. We'll be using this tomorrow in Dundonald Methodist, but thought I would post it a day early incase there is anyone out there even worse prepared than I am and is casting around for something to use. Hope you find it helpful. (if you are still looking for liturgical resources to use with the lectionary readings tomorrow, you could try out Sandpiper's material).

The Gospel according to John speaks of Christ as the true light coming into the world. To remind ourselves of that coming, we light candles for the four weeks leading to Christmas and reflect on the meaning of Christ’s coming for us and for the world. 
This is a dark and troubled world. And so we light the first candle, the candle of hope, and express our longing for the healing of hearts and the whole of creation.
The prophet Micah writes:
as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour;
my God will hear me.
Micah 7:7 (ANIV)
(First candle is lit as the congregation sings the following verse and chorus of "O Come, O come Emmanuel")

O come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
Loving God, as we enter into this season of Advent
We pray that you may reveal to us the healing power of hope.
We lay open before you all the dark corners in our lives and memories:
Despair and doubt, guilt and grief, hurt and regret, anger and fear.
Drive  away the dark shadows that lie within our hearts and minds,
through the healing light of Christ.
May the hope of Christ find its home in our hearts
So that we can be beacons of that hope in this dark world.
Walking each day in the light of Christ.
We rejoice in you, our rock and our salvation;
Our hope comes from you alone.

Benediction (for the end of the service)
We began this service reflecting on the hope that is ours in Christ:
Go from this place in the light of that sure and certain hope.
The good news of Advent is this:
The long-hoped for Christ is coming.
AMEN. Come Lord Jesus



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