FIRST READER: This is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Today, we light the four purple candles (OR three purple candles and the pink candle). The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. The second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. The third Sunday, we lit the candle of joy. Today, we light the candle of peace. Our world is not always a peaceful world. People hurt other people. Countries are at war today. People don't take care of the world. People yell and scream at other people. But God promises peace. During Advent we pray that we, as well as all people, will seek God's peace.
(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles.)
SECOND READER: When we look at the fourth candle, we remember God's promise of peace. We recall the words of Jesus in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." In times of war and hatred it's hard to remember that Jesus is the one who brings peace. As we approach Christmas let's remember that God's intention is a place of peace where people shake hands instead of harm one another.
FIRST READER: Read Luke 2:1-20
SECOND READER: The shepherds may have not felt very peaceful when they heard the words of the angel. They were probably scared and confused, but they followed those words, trusting in God. Sometimes all we see around us gives a message different from the message of peace. Yet we, like the shepherds, can follow God's words and trust in God's promises.
DISCUSSION: This Scripture reminds us that when we are fearful, we are often not thinking of peace. The angels calm the shepherds and send them forward with a task. Who are the people in our world who need God's peace?
What are our hopes for peace in our world today?
How do we help others know God's desire for peace in our world?
PRAYER: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for those in our world today who seek to act for peace. Help us look for ways to be peacemakers at home, at church, and at school. AMEN.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Light the four candles on your wreath. Read together Matthew 1:18-25. We sometimes forget about Joseph. Are there those in your home or community that you might be forgetting? Take a moment to pray for the forgotten people in your home, your church, or your community.
DECEMBER 25 - CHRISTMAS DAY
Wednesday, December 25, 2013: Light the four candles on your wreath, plus the center white candle (which is called the Christ candle) and read together the following meditation:
FIRST READER: Today is Christmas. Today, we light the four purple candles (OR three purple candles and the pink candle). We also light the center white candle. The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. The second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. The third Sunday, we lit the candle of joy. The fourth Sunday, we lit the candle of peace. Today, we also light the center candle. This candle represents Jesus. When we light this candle, we remember Jesus' birth. Our waiting has ended.
(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles. Light the center white candle.)
SECOND READER: When we look at the center candle, we remember that God sent Jesus to give hope, peace, joy, and love to all people. Outside of Bethlehem, the shepherds saw a great light and heard the voices of angels. They traveled to the manger and saw the baby Jesus.
Far away from Bethlehem, wise men saw a star in the sky. They followed the star and were filled with joy when they found Jesus. They remind us that the gift of Jesus was not just for the people in one place, but for all people.
FIRST READER: Read Matthew 2:1-12
DISCUSSION: It's amazing to think of these persistent travelers who were determined to find Jesus. They traveled with hope and faith in the promise that they would find the new king.
Who are the people in our world who need to know of God's promises?
What are our hopes on this Christmas day for our world?
How can we help people remember God's promises after Christmas Day is over?
Name one thing you are willing to do in the days following Christmas that will help you and others remember God's promises.
PRAYER: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you, God, for sending Jesus for ALL people, not just those in one place at one time. On this Christmas Day, help us remember and rejoice again because Jesus was born. May we live every day remembering to show thanks, love and care to others. AMEN.