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Sunday Message for December 10, 2023


Today is the second Sunday of Advent. This is a very special and holy time of the year. Let our invocation this week be, "God of all journeys, visit me with your peace in this time of reflection. Help me remember those who have graced my journey with their accepting arms and words of blessing."

The season of Advent has been set aside as a time of preparation and marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Advent represents the approach of Christ's birth and fulfillment of the prophecies about that event. We should get our hearts ready by thinking about Christ.

(Light the first candle.) I light this candle to remind us that we must prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.

This is the candle of Faith. With the eye of faith, I see God in all. As we look at the light of this candle we celebrate our active faith in the power of God, the justice of God, the Truth of God that is continually at work in our minds and hearts.

(Light the second candle.) I light this candle on the second Sunday in Advent to signify Peace. Peace is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ.

(Mark 1:4) "John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."a

Today we light the Second Candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace. We remember the prophets who spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a Savior would be born, a king in the line of King David. The prophet Isaiah called Christ "the Prince of Peace". They told us how he would rule the world wisely and bless all the nations.

When Jesus came he taught people the importance of being peace-makers. He said that those who make peace shall be called the children of God. When Christ is realized within us it brings us peace. We light the Candle of Peace to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that through him peace is found.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Light of the World, the prophets said you would bring peace and save your people from trouble. Give peace in our hearts at Christmastide. We ask that as we wait for you to come into our hearts, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your peace with each other. We ask it in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.

(Luke 1:37-55) For nothing will be impossible with God. 1:38Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
1:39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 1:40where she entered into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 1:41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 1:42and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 1:43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 1:44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 1:45And blessed is she who believed; that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. 1:46And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
     1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
     Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name.
1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him
     from generation to generation.
1:51 He has shown strength with his arm;
     he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
     and lifted up the lowly;
1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
     and sent the rich away empty.
1:54 He has helped his servant Israel,
     in remembrance of his mercy,
1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
     to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

So, this scripture starts off in (Luke 1:37) For nothing will be impossible with God.c
The angel Gabriel has just told her that she is to give birth to the Messiah For nothing will be impossible with God. We need to remember this, especially with all that is happening in the world.

He is saying that it doesn't matter what you have believed, or what the appearance is, For nothing will be impossible with God.

It doesn't matter what the economic experts say. It doesn't matter what you have or don't have right now. Just know that nothing is impossible with God. Hold to that truth and you will manifest everything you might need.

Luke's account of Mary's visit to Elizabeth immediately follows Gabriel's departure from Mary. Having boldly assented to bear the Christ, Mary finds herself suddenly alone. Young and unwed, Mary's awe at Gabriel's invitation probably gives way to fear, dismay, and a sense of isolation. Who will believe her? Who will listen to her? Who will comfort her?

Elizabeth. We do not know whether Mary decides to visit Elizabeth because they have been close kinswomen and friends for a long time or because Mary simply has no one else to whom she can turn. But we do know, as does Mary, that her elder relative has experienced, as has Mary, a miraculous conception of her own. This fact alone may have prompted Mary to act decisively once again and journey, alone and "with haste," to see Elizabeth.

Surely Elizabeth's welcome assures Mary that she has done well to turn to her kinswoman. Blessed by Elizabeth for her faithfulness, Mary breaks forth into a song full of praise for the liberation that God has brought. We know this song as the Magnificat.

A. M. Allchin has noted in his book, The Joy of All Creation, that this meeting of Mary and Elizabeth is, in one sense, the beginning of Christian liturgy. He observes that in liturgy we meet not only God but also one another.d The blessing, praise, and liberation that flow out of Mary and Elizabeth's meeting serve as a model for how we, in worship and all of life, should bless and call forth one another's gifts.

A lesson to be learned was how to receive a blessing that caused more problems than it solved.

"How can this be?" the words kept going through Mary's head as she sat in her chambers on another side of the country.

Mary - a peasant girl, unmarried - was to be the mother of the Christ.

To be pregnant is one thing.

To be pregnant with the Christ is something altogether different.

How could this happen? This was not the way Mary had planned her life.

"How do you defend a blessing you cannot explain?" she asked herself. "How do you live with a blessing that creates more problems than it solves?"

Besides, who would believe her? Joseph? Absolutely not. The townswomen? Hardly. Elizabeth, her relative? Perhaps...

At least Elizabeth was married. Still, Mary needed someone to talk with. Someone who knew what it meant to grapple with God's intentions. Someone. A woman, pregnant like herself. Mary's mind kept going back to the old woman Elizabeth. Suppose her kinswoman did not believe her? It was a chance Mary had to take. She needed to talk with another woman.

Elizabeth's greeting affirms Mary's faith. With this show of solidarity from another woman, Mary's lingering doubts disappear.

Yes, blessed is she who believes that the promise made her by the Lord will be fulfilled. What reassurance! What a gift! How significant this was for Mary! How often do we need reassurance when we are challenged, or required to face difficult situations, or to carry heavy responsibilities! Is this what we mean by building solidarity among women?

With this assurance Mary feels liberated. She is liberated from her fears and misgivings, from her feelings of weakness and of inadequacy. She is liberated from what she was taught as a woman. Suddenly she sees the significance of Gabriel's message. She realizes what it actually means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and how such power can reverse all so-called natural human order.

Then Mary, like Hannah before her, is filled with joy and gratitude and breaks out in a hymn of praise to God, her Savior.

At Christmas time, we have a tradition of lighting twelve candles in honor of the twelve disciples of Jesus. We celebrate the Divine qualities that they represent as the twelve attributes of being from which all other Divine ideas spring. Those are:

So I would like to start this Candle Lighting Ceremony by inviting Peter to come forward. Peter is the disciple whose faith, once developed, made him a greatly inspired leader. Through the Christ faith within, we are steadfast. With faith in God, we have the courage to trust in right and good outcomes.

PETER: I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of FAITH. I bring the gift of faith. From our innermost being, we give to the world our gift of faith. This is the faith that knows God is the true essence of everything. Our faith is unshakable. We know God is the power at work in every situation. Our faith acknowledges all people everywhere. You are the Christ, the son and daughter of the living God. You are God's dearly beloved. This candle represents our gift of faith in the presence and power of God active in the universe.

Next I would like to invite Andrew to come forward. Andrew had a great strength of character and was Jesus' first real friend. He was also a fisherman, and a brother to Peter. Through Christ strength within, we are strong. We have the fortitude to overcome all challenges.

ANDREW: I am the disciple Andrew and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of STRENGTH. I bring the gift of strength. From our innermost being, we give to the world our gift of strength. Christ is our strength. In the midst of confusion we trust in God. We acknowledge our patience and steadfastness in Truth. We hold in prayer for all people, everywhere, that they have the inner resources and strength to do what is theirs to do. God is our refuge and our strength. With God all things are possible. We hold the High Watch for others. This candle represents the spiritual strength we bring to our world.

I would like to invite James to come forward. James was a fisherman, and fished with his father, Zebedee, and his brother John. These two brothers, James and John, were called "the sons of thunder." James was one of the three disciples who were part of the inner circle. He went with Jesus, as did John and Peter, to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the crucifixion.

JAMES: I am the disciple James, son of Zebedee and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of WISDOM. I bring the gift of Divine wisdom. From our innermost being we give to the world the gift of wisdom. Divine wisdom is being established in all people everywhere. May each person develop the ability to make wise decisions; to remember and retain needed information; to put things into proper perspective; to weigh options and to make right choices. This gift comes from our hearts and minds and flows freely into God's great world. This candle represents our gift of Divine Wisdom for all.

I would like to invite John to come forward. John was a fisherman by trade and known as the beloved disciple. He was devoted to Jesus and stayed with Jesus' mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion. Through the Christ love within us, we are filled with peace and harmony. We attract good into our lives.

JOHN: I am the disciple John and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of LOVE. I bring the gift of God's unconditional Love. From our innermost being, we give to the world the gift of our Love. As God's creation, we are important and are needed to fill our own particular niche in life. No one else can express God's love. We acknowledge God's love in action through us. We bless others through us. We bless others through our gift of love. This candle represents the spiritual Love we send forth into our world.

I would like to invite Phillip to come forward. Philip was among the first to join Jesus. He was able to affect great healings through the power of the spoken word. Through the power of our indwelling Christ our words are empowered to shape our world. We speak only words of faith, optimism, wisdom, and love.

PHILLIP: I am the disciple Phillip and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of POWER. I bring the gift of Divine Power. From our innermost being, we give the world the gift of power. The powerful affirmation of the Truth of God is our gift to the world this Christmas season. Through the power of the Christ within we bless the world. We release this power in positive ways, uplifting, creating, liberating and enlightening as we speak. We affirm only good; we affirm only love; we affirm only peace. This candle represents the one power and presence of God on earth.

I would like to invite Bartholomew to come forward. Bartholomew was recognized by Jesus as a man of imagination and vision. He immediately acknowledged the spiritual truth about Jesus and saw in him the Christ spirit. Through the imaging power of the indwelling Christ, we see the good in every person, situation, and event.

BARTHOLOMEW: I am the disciple Bartholomew and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of IMAGINATION. I bring the gift of God's creative imagination. From our innermost being, we give the world the gift of imagination. We imagine a world full of love. We imagine a world of peace. We imagine everyone well fed. We imagine every home prospered. We imagine everyone reaching his or her full potential. We imagine all people realizing that they are God's beloved and living in accordance with this truth. This candle represents our ability to imagine heaven on earth.

I would like to invite Thomas to come forward. Thomas was another of the fisherman. Often called the "doubter," because of his insistence on proof, his doubt deepened his faith as he came to understand that spiritual principles are more certain than observable facts. Through the light of the indwelling Christ, we understand that the divine plan is unfolding despite appearances to the contrary, through the working of spiritual law.

THOMAS: I am the disciple Thomas and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of UNDERSTANDING. I bring the gift of understanding. From our innermost being, we give the world the gift of understanding. We recognize there are many troubled situations in our world and to these situations we give understanding. The foundation of our world is God and we give strength to that foundation by our understanding. We acknowledge the good - active in our lives. We give thanks that the perfect, full expression of the Christ is present within all people. We affirm Divine Understanding for all. This candle represents our understanding that God is the source of truth and guidance in all situations.

I would like to invite Matthew to come forward. Matthew, a well-educated and wealthy tax collector for the Romans, left all his worldly attributes of success behind without a moment's hesitation to join Jesus. The indwelling Christ guides our will. We let God's perfect will be done in all that we think, say, and do.

MATTHEW: I am the disciple Matthew and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of WILL. I bring the gift of Divine Will. From our innermost being, we give to the world the gift of our will. We let go of all small ego concerns. We relax our hold on earthly demands. We let go of tension and stress. We know that God is in charge of this world and we give to the world our willingness to let God's perfect will be done. We acknowledge that God's will for all people is good and only good. This candle represents our will. We turn our will over to God and let God's will be done.

I would like to invite James to come forward. James, thought to have been a cousin of Jesus, became the first Bishop of Jerusalem and was highly respected for his knowledge of the law. The indwelling Christ establishes order in our lives as we recognize that all things work together for good.

JAMES: I am the disciple James, son of Alphaeus and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of ORDER. I bring the gift of order. From our innermost being, we give the world the gift of order. We realize there is no need or situation that the divine order of God cannot harmonize, adjust and make right. Our trust in God establishes Divine Order. We are in tune with the Infinite. Our gift of order establishes itself in proper timing and perfect peace. All confusion and disorder are dissolved. The presence of God is active in the world in an orderly, peaceful and loving way. This candle represents our dedication to Divine Order in our world.

I would like to invite Simon to come forward. Simon had a great enthusiasm for transforming the world. The indwelling Christ tempers our zeal with judgment. We develop extraordinary ability in spiritual wisdom, love and power and do God's will with enthusiasm.

SIMON: I am the disciple Simon and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of ZEAL. I bring the gift of zeal. From our innermost being, we give to the world the gift of our zeal. Our joy, enthusiasm and zeal bring a sparkle into the world. The indomitable Spirit of God uplifts and sustains us. Whatever the need, the Spirit of God lifts us up and all is fulfilled. We celebrate the joy and enthusiasm that bubbles up and bursts forth into the world, bringing the everlasting gift of God's good. This candle represents the joy we send forth through the power of our spiritual zeal.

I would like to invite Thaddeus to come forward. Thaddeus, brother of James, urged the world to renounce all which would separate them from the goodness of God. Through the power of the indwelling Christ, we let go of all that we no longer have a use for and release the energies of thoughts and feelings which are not worthy of the Christ within. We make room for God to fill our lives. We are free from the baggage of the past and error thinking which has weighed us down. We are free as we move into a field of unlimited possibility.

THADDEUS: I am the disciple Thaddeus and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of RENUNCIATION. I bring the gift of renunciation. From our innermost being, we give to the world the gift of our renunciation. Our world is cleansed as we release all that no longer serves us through the power of our indwelling Christ. With one clean sweep, the power of Christ frees us from mistaken ideas and makes room for higher concepts of Truth. Hurts of the past, misunderstandings and sorrows are washed away. We release all unforgiving thoughts and feelings. We let go of the past. We establish a new, fresh beginning. This candle represents our gift of renunciation to the world as we release all that no longer serves us.

I would like to invite Judas to come forward. Judas had hoped that Jesus would become a mighty king. He placed his whole attention on the establishment of a new political structure, and betrayed Jesus because he believed that Jesus would not allow himself to be killed. Following the betrayal, and the death of Judas, the disciples elected a new disciple to replace Judas; whose name was Matthias. The indwelling Christ guides and governs the wellsprings of life within us. As the manipulative, self-absorbed Judas life in us departs, our life energy renews itself and, like the Phoenix, emerges as a faculty through which the Life Force can express a higher purpose.

JUDAS: I am the disciple Judas and I light this candle in honor of the Christ faculty of LIFE. I bring the gift of vibrant and healthy life. From our innermost being, we give the world the gift of life. We acknowledge that every phrase of life has its divine purpose. We rejoice each day in the new ideas, discoveries, revelations and involvement of the day. We bring the awareness of spiritual life to every part of life. We bless the people, the animals, the plants and all living things. We give thoughts of pure vibrant health and revitalizing life to every area of our own life and to every area of the lives of others. This candle represents the gift of life in our world.

The small candles that were given to you, are to remind you that you have been entrusted with a gift of God, the Christ within, 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 in the salt, there to let it shine and add its brightness to "the light of the world." 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.

After you light your candle please pick up the special blessing that has been lovingly selected with the prayer that it may reach the person for whom the Spirit intends it. Then return to your seat with your prayer for this coming year.

aMark 1:4
bLuke 1:37-55
cLuke 1:37
dA. M. Allchin The Joy of All Creation

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