Advent is a time of waiting for the in breaking of Christ’s divine love. We wait initially in chaos and darkness. This might at first to be a bit uncomfortable. But in Advent, darkness is the emerging of something new. We grow as tiny babies in the darkness of our mother’s womb. The creation story in Genesis tells us that the world emerged out of the darkness that covered the face of the deep. Darkness allows us to see the stars, bright points of light that guide our way. Hope only makes sense if we first allow ourselves to experience being in the dark.

Rev Dr Sunny Chen in his Assembly Advent reflection reminds us that mangers in the first century were more likely to resemble stone troughs, rather than the wooden structures we have come to associate with mangers. With this image of the stone trough, he notes the similarity between Jesus’ birth and his death. In both cases Jesus’ body was wrapped in cloth and laid in a stone cave like structure. 

This connection between the beginning and the end is central to understanding the season of Advent. We are both symbolically anticipating the hope to come that will somehow reconcile all the pain and suffering, injustice and messiness of the world, and we are looking to Jesus now to understand how to live in the world.

We light four candles at Advent to symbolize hope, peace, joy and love. This year we will look at those themes over the four Sundays, but couple them with four others But couple them with four others that arose from our reflections and the song that we have chosen to sing as we light the Advent candles

  Advent 1 – Hope, Darkness

  Advent 2 – Peace, Justice

– Advent 3 – Joy, Protest

– Advent 4 – Love, Waiting

The Christmas Bowl reminds us that we are connected to one another and that this hope is both local and global. We are part of village of communities and the light of God shines on us all. 

So we light candles. And in that small symbolic act, that small flickering light, we offer a protest. A protest that has wrapped up in it all our future hopes. And we wait and see what the light will reveal to us in this Advent Season.

Cath James, Minister of the Word – CYYA


Bless those
who know the darkness
and do not fear it,
who carry the light
and are not consumed,
who prepare the way
and will not abandon it,
who bless with grace
that does not leave us.

            Jan Richardson