PEACE - CANDLE LIGHTING CEREMONY
This is the second Sunday in Advent. So this week we center on Peace. The affirmation is: "God's Peace is mine. All things contribute to the calm peace of my soul."
So what is Peace? It says in Isaiah 9:6
"For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."a
Then it says in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."b
Charles Fillmore writes in The Revealing Word: "Peace is Harmony and tranquility derived from awareness of the Christ consciousness. Steadfast affirmations of peace will harmonize the whole body structure and open the way to attainment of health conditions in mind and body."c
So let's do today's affirmation. "God's Peace is mine. All things contribute to the calm peace of my soul"
So the Prince of Peace said "my peace I give to you." Are you willing to accept it?
Many people find peace of mind an elusive quality. Many are convinced that the only peace they will attain is in death. This is untrue. Peace is possible in all hearts and minds.
We live in a good world full of good people and our God is absolute good. Peace prevails in the lives of many people; it can prevail in the lives of all.
But there is a price. The price is high. To some it is too high. Will you pay the price?
Here it is:
Keep God first in your life in all your ways.
Follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to the best of your understanding and ability.
Love God, love all the people on this planet, and love yourself.
That's it. Oh, so simple. The destiny of this earth is at stake. Peace in the world is at stake. Peace of mind is at stake - yours and everybody else's.
So let's jump right into the Twelve Lights of Bethlehem. Would my candle lighters please come forward one at a time and light your candle, starting with Baby Jesus or Life.
Twelve Lights of Bethlehem
1 Baby Jesus-Life
Acolyte: This candle represents Life, which we light for the baby Jesus.
Narrator: Jesus was like a candle in a dark world. When we think of Christmas, all thoughts flow toward his birth. Light from light, Jesus demonstrates the universal Divine Presence, and through him, we see the image of God in everyone.
Acolyte: This candle represents Faith, which we light for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Narrator: According to the Gospel of Luke, when confronted by the Divine commission to give birth to and nurture the Christ child, this ordinary young woman responded with extraordinary words of trusting faith: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."d
Acolyte: This candle represents the golden light of Understanding, which we light for Joseph, the father of Jesus and husband to Mary.
Narrator: With an understanding heart, Joseph accepted his role in the amazing circumstances we celebrate this season. The gospels report that, after the angel choirs had adjourned to heaven and the Wise Men returned to their far-off lands, it was Joseph who remained as father and guardian of a child whose life would change the world. In quiet ways, by acts of unsung courage, he demonstrated a keen understanding of the dangers and joys of life, and always acted from the highest principles for the greatest good.
Acolyte: This candle represents Power, which we light for the little town of Bethlehem.
Narrator: Prophets had foretold that the Promised One would come from Bethlehem, the place where the powerful King David had been born. Yet the power Bethlehem represents is far greater than the might of armies. Bethlehem means "house of bread" in Hebrew, and one day the child born that night would challenge all people to feed the hungry, and clothe the needy, and comfort the afflicted. By the words of power he brought, Jesus taught humankind to affirm the Power and Presence of God in all circumstances. The power of that affirmation will heal the sick, lift the poor out of poverty, and transform the world into a commonwealth of peace.
Acolyte: This candle represents Love, which we light for the shepherds.
Narrator: These were simple folk, not kings in their palaces, yet the Gospel of Luke says the birth of the Christ child was announced to them as "good news of great joy for all the people."e They responded with eagerness, and when they knelt before the manger, their hearts were filled with divine Love.
6 Prophets and Herald Angels-Zeal
Acolyte: This candle represents Zeal, which we light for Prophets and Herald Angels.
Narrator: The Prophet Isaiah had written: "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace ... The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."f Luke reports that angelic voices rang out that dark night, announcing the holy birth. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!'."g Jesus would tell the people that God favors everyone. Isaiah the prophet and the Herald Angels conspired to give us a vision of heaven and earth united by the power of Zeal.
7 The Manger-Order
Acolyte: This candle represents Divine Order, which we light in memory of the Manger.
Narrator: Jesus has been called "King of kings" and "Lord of lords." Yet, when it was time for him to be born, his desperate parents converted an animal food trough into a makeshift cradle. As Luke writes, she "wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."h This simple action shows God working through all circumstances. Looking at the manger in the Christmas crèche offers a visual symbol of the balance and harmony flowing through the Universe. Even when circumstances appear desperate, we can access that flow of good through exercising our trust in Divine Order.
8 Wise Men-Wisdom
Acolyte: This candle represents the flame of Wisdom, which we light for the Wise Men.
Narrator: Many people saw the star, but the Gospel of Matthew says only the Wise Men from the East chose to act on their vision. The power of Wisdom is the guiding light that gives us the right decision when we trust the Christ within. With this candle we remember the good judgment shown by wise men and wise women throughout the ages who have found the way to their inner Christ.
9 The Star of Bethlehem-Imagination
Acolyte: This candle represents Imagination, which we light in memory of the Star which led the Magi to Bethlehem.
Narrator: The Gospel of Matthew says Wise Men followed that star until it came to rest over Bethlehem, where they found the Christ. The star represents the ability to create new ideas and set them in motion. It is the power to see through appearances to the inner, eternal Truth of every circumstance. With the eyes of Imagination, the Magi found their Christ by following a star; we can use our power of Imagination to discover the Christ within everyone.
Acolyte: This candle represents Strength, which we light in memory of the gift of gold.
Narrator: The first gift the Magi gave the baby Jesus was gold, which represents the kingly nature of Jesus, his prosperity consciousness, and his ability to perform all necessary tasks. Spiritual Strength is the true gold of existence, the energy of God flowing through us. Gold also symbolizes the gifts of God, which strengthen us during times of difficulty and give us the ability to share our time, talent, and treasure with others.
Acolyte: This candle represents Will, which we light in memory of the gift of frankincense.
Narrator: Because frankincense was an incense of the temple, it represents the divine nature of Jesus, which is the Christ that dwells within everyone. To allow more and more of the Christ to express through us takes an act of Will, the willingness to name and claim our divine heritage.
12 Myrrh-Renunciation or Elimination
Acolyte: This candle represents Renunciation, which we light in memory of the gift of myrrh.
Narrator: This candle points to the human nature of Jesus. In biblical times, myrrh was a perfume used to prepare bodies for burial. It represents the power to let go and let God, to recognize we are in good hands when we trust God. Jesus, who was born in a manger, would die on a cross. Yet his teachings have changed billions of lives for the better. If he was able to let go and let God, so can we. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child today, we release any thoughts of lack or limitation and turn our lives over to God's guidance, knowing in every circumstance God is within us, we are in God, and all is well.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
I would remind you that this next ceremony that we are about to do is very sacred to many people - so hold your nonsense for later.
The small candles that are being given to you are to remind you that you have been entrusted with a gift of God, the Christ within you, and that as Jesus became the light of the world by letting His light shine, so that same Christ light, quickened and glowing in each of us, is to become the light of our world, and is even to reach beyond our own world into the life of others.
The candles were given to you unlighted, because you alone can bring forth the light that is within you, even though others may call it forth by the inspiration that they give you. You are to light them from the light of the universal Christ, for it is in the light of the Christ that we find the light within us and learn how to bring it into expression. You are to place your candle with the others, there to let it shine and add its brightness to "the light of the world." You will place your candle in a bed of salt, for those who light the light of Christ within themselves are indeed the salt of the earth. So this simple ceremony becomes a prayer of the hand and the heart as well as of the lips so that the Truth which it symbolizes may be speedily manifest for you.
You can then take a special blessing that has been lovingly selected with the prayer that it may reach the person for whom the Spirit intends it.
So, row by row, come forward, light your candle from the tall one, place it in the bowl of salt, take a blessing, and go back to your seat
Now that everyone has added their own unique individual light to the light of the world, let's just go around the room and read the affirmation that you received.
May there always be room in your heart
for divinity to find a birthing place.
May you be holy as the angels were,
faithful as the shepherds were,
humble as the cattle were,
wise as the Wise Men were.
May you have the compassion Mary had
and the understanding Joseph had,
and may the blessing of the Christ child be yours,
not because of His birth night long ago,
but because His love is born in you today!
cCharles Fillmore The Revealing Word