Joy to the World: Christmas Cantata

Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Micah 5:2-5a.

Advent is a time of expectation, and this is symbolized, not only for the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent Candle on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds us, the worshippers, that something is happening, and something more is still to come.

The candles are arranged in a circle to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows neither beginning nor ending. The large white candle in the center is the Christ candle and points to Jesus as the Christ, the Light of the world.

A progression is noted in the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath each Sunday. Each candle symbolizes various aspects of our waiting experience. For us this year we are focusing on four ideas of the Christmas event: Hope, Purity of Heart, Love, and Joy. The culmination of the season comes as we light the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve, and from the Christ candle, sharing the light throughout the congregation, which represents sharing the light of Christ to all the nations.

As I concluded my annual “Christmas Candle Lighting Instructions” with a congregation – if your candle is lit, it remains upright and unlit candles move towards the flame – I walked towards the Christ Candle with taper in hand. A five-generation family – all of the relations present – were happily nestled in the front three pews nearest the Advent wreath. In silence I extended my taper towards the Christ Candle and it ignited to the excited chorus of two-year-old Adella, “Ooooooo!” “That’s right, Adella!,” I said. “That’s right!”

May we all have that kind of wonder – Adella-Wonder! – as we are caught up in the light of Christ, and especially, as we share the light of Christ with others.

This week both services will receive the gift of a Christmas Cantata presented by South Shore’s Sanctuary Choir. I am grateful for the choir’s preparation and for the leadership of Drew Golding and Nancy Jackson – all of which makes this Cantata possible. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to invite family, friends, and neighbors to worship this week as the choir sings us ever nearer to the nativity of our Lord.

Prayer: “O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home. The captives from their prison free, and conquer death’s deep misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”* Amen.

*”O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” The United Methodist Hymnal 211.

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