Lighting Advent Candles with Prayers of Adoration & Confession

with SONG:  Come, we pray (Shawn Whelan)
Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
   Come Emmanuel

The first gift – Hope
The prophet Isaiah speaks
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
         (Isaiah 2:4b)

We light this first candle for hope.
God of all creation plant your seeds of hope
deep within our aching hearts.
We stand beneath our Christmas tree, 
the trunk of which stands for the strength of hope, of constancy, of faithfulness.

All our hope is in you God of all creation.
Through the prophets you called and continue to call your people
into new ways of living and following and being.
In the birth of Jesus our hope in you is given human form
a gift of vulnerability offered to us in a surprising and beautiful way.
Forgive us when we lose hope and forget
that we are just one small part of your dream for all creation.

When will we beat our swords to ploughshares?
   Come Emmanuel
When will we walk your paths of justice?
   Come Emmanuel

Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
   Come Emmanuel 

The second gift – Peace
The prophet Isaiah speaks
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding       (Isaiah 11:1-2a)

We light this second candle for peace.
God of justice fill our hearts and minds
with your deep abiding peace.
We look up into the canopy of our Christmas tree,
to the green tendrils and leaves, giving the shelter of peace.

Our hearts cry out for peace, God of justice.
The prophets speak throughout history and still now
of your desire for all people to live in peace and harmony.
Through the birth of Jesus, this message is given human form
a gift of peace, one man full of wisdom and understanding.
Forgive us for the grieving of our hearts
when we become overwhelmed by the lack of peace in our world.

When will we see the branch of Jesse?
   Come Emmanuel
When will the nations seek your wisdom?
   Come Emmanuel

Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
   Come Emmanuel

The third gift – Joy
The prophet Isaiah speaks
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
     (Isaiah 35:1-2a)

We light this third candle for joy.
God of joyful and glorious abundance
open our ears and eyes to delight and gladness.
This Christmas tree blossoms with flowers,
their colour radiating God’s abundant joy in creation.

God of beauty, wonder and delight, joy is elusive.
The prophets speak of a time of rejoicing to come
of gladness, singing and abundant blossoming.
Through the birth of Jesus, you remind us
of the source of this joy, life lived fully with you.
Forgive us when we turn aside from you
and instead plod wearily through the apparent gloominess of our days.

When will we strengthen weak and weary?
   Come Emmanuel
When will we leave our fears behind us?
   Come Emmanuel

Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
Come, we pray, O God be with us
   Come Emmanuel
   Come Emmanuel

The Fourth Gift – Love
The prophet Isaiah speaks
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Look, the young woman
is with child and shall bear a son,
and shall name him Immanuel.        (Isaiah 7:14)

We light this fourth candle for love
Nurturing mothering God,
hold us tenderly in your loving embrace.
Our Christmas tree bears the fruit
of God’s steadfast creative love.

God of love, you are the source of all that is good.
The prophets speak of a sign, of the coming reign of love
a time when we will live in harmony and all will be made new.
In the birth of Jesus, this love was given flesh
and walked among us, calling us home, again and again.
Forgive us when we stray, lost in despair
Call to us again to live in love with hope, peace and joy.  Amen 

We have seen the child among us
   O Emmanuel
Christ declares God’s reign here for us
   O Emmanuel

May we hear your voice within us
    O Emmanuel
May we build your reign among us
   O Emmanuel
   O Emmanuel

God is the source of all hope, peace, joy and love.
Held in this mystery, we can be confident
that through the grace and mercy
of the One whose birth we celebrate this night
our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God

Saide Cameron, offered for worship by Kirsty Brown, Saide Cameron, Ian Ferguson, 24/12/19, Christmas Eve 1A


What are we to make of these mysterious gifts, God’s Christmas gifts of hope, peace, joy and love?    They are so elusive and so precious.  They can’t be held, wrapped in brightly coloured paper and put under a tree, handed out to others on one special day in the year.  What are we to make of them?  These gifts shape us, make us new, renew us when we are lost in despair and call us to live these gifts into reality for all the world.

Paul writes, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” (Rm 12:11)  What do you hope for tonight?  A change of heart among our leaders, a commitment to repairing the damage done to our earth, an opening of our borders, closing down of inhumane detention centres, homes for the homeless, the list is endless and yet all these things and more are what we are called to hope for.  God plants the seeds of hope deep in our hearts and calls us out of the safe places of our lives to live in hope and to work with her to bring all this into reality.  Hope, the first gift.
branches are placed in the manger – a symbol of hope

And what of peace?  What do you know of peace?  What is peace?  Peace is something that we long for, something we seek for the whole world.  We long for peace for all people and creatures and yet we know that this peace is a long way off, a prophecy not yet realized.  God offers to us the gift of peace in the person of Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (Jn 14:27)  Jesus walks with us as we work for peace, praying, standing on the streets, writing letters, singing songs, sitting alongside the broken hearted, crying out for justice.  Peace, the second gift.
olive leaves are placed in the manger – a symbol of peace

Abundant joy, deserts rejoicing and crocus blossoming abundantly, images to gladden our hearts.  Jesus said, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:11)  God’s gift of joy gladdens our hearts.  Where do you experience such joy?  Is it in times of solitude, retreating from the world, in the beauty of creation?  Is it with family, with friends, sharing hospitality and celebrating community?   Like Jesus we need both, we need time away and time in community.  Joy, the third gift.
flowers are placed in the manger – a symbol of joy

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12)  Love – the most precious gift of all.  We are held in God’s steadfast love from our first breath to our last.  And yet so many people in the world do not know love.  We hear loud voices of greed and fear saying no and no again and no yet again.  Jesus commandment to love is also a promise of love.  Jesus calls us to love like he does.  We don’t know what will this will cost us, but we can be confident that this gift of love will always be ours to hold, to be held in and to give freely.  Love, the fourth gift.
mangoes are placed in the manger – a symbol of love

Hope, peace, joy and love – God’s Christmas gifts to us and all the world.  May you know them to be yours on this holy night through the birth of Jesus, a vulnerable baby, Word of God, our Saviour.  Amen.

Saide Cameron, offered for worship, 29/12/19, Christmas Eve 1A