This is what I wrote for the lighting of the Advent candles yesterday morning. I wrote it weeks ago, so I had kind of forgotten it. When I heard it read aloud at the first service, I thought, "Hey that's pretty good" before remembering that I had, in fact, written it. Awkward.
So anyway, I'd like to share it with you, because I love the idea of singing aloud as a way to overcome fear. I hope you like it.
Lighting of the Advent Candles - Campbell UMC, 2015
WEEK 3 - December 13
READER 1: Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst.
Zephaniah 1, 14 through 16.
READER 2: We are one week nearer to the arrival of Jesus! This week, Zephaniah encourages us to look fear in the face … and sing!
It is a liberating idea, isn’t it, to overcome fear with singing? So often we are told to be afraid, to be cautious, to withdraw and hide from the dangers of the world. In stark contrast, Zephaniah tells us to sing for joy!
Joy does not come from wealth or an abundance of possessions. Our neighbors in the La Laguna community in rural Nicaragua have next to nothing in terms of material possessions, and yet there is great joy among them. No, the source of true joy is not of this world; the source of true joy is God.
Today we light a candle called “Joy,” a song sung in defiance of fear, God’s strong presence in our midst.
(READER 1 lights “Hope,” “Peace,” and “Joy” candles.)
READER 1 (or 3): Joy’s light is added to “hope” and “peace,” illuminating the darkness of fear, and injustice, and poverty, and war. And no darkness will ever overcome it.
Let us pray. (Reprise intro begins)
O come, o come, Emmanuel. You open heaven wide, you liberate the captives, you conquer death itself. You scatter the gloomy clouds of night with the light of your justice.
O God, bind all people together in the gentle cords of grace. May we sing songs of joy in the face of all that we are told to fear.
Show us how to be your gift during this holy season. In the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
My prayer for you is that you have the confidence to sing in defiance of fear. Joy is the assurance of God's strong presence, equipping, energizing, and empowering us to overcome whatever struggles life throws our way.
"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free!"
Christ the Lord is coming, that the world might joyful be.