“Christmas Eve Candlelight Service” with Rev. Melanie Eyre
Join us for our annual Christmas Eve service and candle lighting. This year’s event will be online, so have your candle ready at home. We looking forward to sharing this special service with you.
A revised transcript of this week’s talk is provided below for the Deaf and hard of hearing, including prayers, readings and songs.
Christmas Eve Transcript
Welcome on this truly joyous night. A sacred time for millions around our world – surely the consciousness of our planet is raised tonight as so many join their hearts in peace and joy on this one night. It is surely a very different Christmas Eve – many are separated from family, many are alone. We hold in our hearts all who struggle to see the light this holiday season, including ourselves at times. However, the light remains, because each of us carries it. Let us take this moment here together, in this celebration, to send our loving energy and light out to our world along with millions of others, as together we awaken that global consciousness of peace, hope, and joy.
Blessed Spirit, father/mother god, universal energy of love, we give thanks for this day, this place, each other, and the beauty of all creation. Tonight we celebrate the divine light born again and always in us and as us. May our circle be filled with love and light, may we be strong to shine as only we can in this world. Let this gathering of light here tonight be our reminder that the light of Spirit lives in us all and cannot be hidden. We celebrate tonight the rebirth every day and in every moment of Emmanuel – God with us.
And so it is, and together we say amen.
Let us also celebrate the new ways we see and experience the light, in this Christmas Eve. New traditions, new connections, new understandings arise as we shape new ways to celebrate. The light remains – all we have to do is remove our hands from over our eyes and see it. Let us approach this Christmas day with new eyes, new ears, open and joyful hearts.
Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Tonight, we feature a program by our youth, directed by Rev. Rebecca Johnson.
Lighting the Advent Candles
Tonight marks the closing of the liturgical season of Advent, a word which means “waiting.” Advent marks the beginning of the Christian calendar, as millions around the world prepare and wait for the birth of the Christ child.
There are so many meanings to the Advent season, to this time of waiting for what is to come. In addition to celebrating the birth of the wayshower Jesus, Advent is the season of waiting for things unseen, things we have not yet imagined. A period of waiting for God to be revealed through this glorious creation.
Advent is a personal journey. It invites us to ask – just what are we waiting for? How will the divine show up in our lives? What are we expecting?
What we expect to find impacts how we look and what we look for. But we are waiting for what is not apparent, so we have to look with different eyes. Advent invites us to look with eyes that expect the divine, that anticipate the Christ consciousness to be born in us and through us.
We are preparing our hearts for the coming of the light. However, remember that light is not something that we see. It is the means by which we see everything else.
We are preparing to see all things differently, through eyes transformed by this divine unfolding. The psalmist said “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things.” Advent is this time of preparation to see the world and each other with new eyes.
The four advent candles each signify an aspect of this period of waiting, of unfolding and preparation.
The first candle symbolizes hope. We light the candle of hope.
Traditionally, the first candle is called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt for the birth of the Messiah who is coming.
This candle symbolizes our belief that hope remains even when there is no reason we should believe it. In the darkest of days, we know the light is coming. Cynthia Bourgeault writes that “Hope’s home is at the innermost point in us, and in all things. It is a quality of aliveness. It does not come at the end, as the feeling that results from a happy outcome. Rather, it lies at the beginning, as a pulse of truth that sends us forth. It enters us and fills us with its own life — a quiet strength beyond anything we have ever known.”
The great spiritual teachers have all been people of hope. All believed in a promise that moved them forward, even if they didn’t know how that tomorrow might look.
The second candle symbolizes faith. It is called the ‘Bethlehem candle”, to remind us of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.
We light the candle of faith.
It is a challenging concept. Many dismiss it as requiring belief without rational proof. I suggest it invites us to rest in that overwhelming love at our heart that is beyond measurements, diagrams or formulas. I go with Thomas Aquinas, who said “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Faith reminds us that we live with one foot in the realm of the physical, and one in the realm of the unseen and only partially known. We represent the union of both.
The third candle symbolizes joy. We light the candle of joy.
This candle traditionally is called the Shepherd’s candle, and it’s pink as that is the liturgical color for joy. We experience joy at the coming of the light.
The candle of joy reminds us of God’s continuing presence, truly a cause for joy. It reminds us of the Christmas story, that teaches us that even when there was literally no room, God came anyway. Through the fatigue, the rejection, perhaps the panic at being turned away, God came anyway. In the chaos and uncertainty of our lives, Spirit comes anyway.
Zen master Katagiri Roshi once said it would be so much easier if we were being asked to live a simple life in a simple world, but we’re not. We’re being asked to live a simple life in a very complicated world. The joy and promise of this season invites us to realize that the divine is always with is, is always present as us, in all the circumstances of our lives, and that is truly a cause for gratitude and celebration.
The fourth candle, called the Angel’s Candle, symbolizes peace. We light the candle of peace.
It reminds us of the angel’s message, ”Peace on earth, good will toward all.” It reminds us that this peace comes when we bring it to each other, and to our world.
The Christmas Candle
Finally, we prepare to light the Christmas Candle, for the coming of the light. We celebrate the birth of this Christ light in each of us, at every moment. We celebrate incarnation.
While many celebrate tonight and tomorrow the incarnation of the divine in this person of Jesus of Nazareth, we must remember the birth 2000 years ago was not the first incarnational event. That occurred at the moment of creation, when the divine took physical form as all of creation. God said yes to this physical universe, yes to ongoing creation, life and growth and death and life again. God said yes to the amazing diversity of life, that permits those who can see to realize the one in the many. God said I will pour out myself as all that is, and it is good.
In this birth of Jesus, we celebrate this message again, this incarnation of the divine as one of us.
We celebrate this invitation, this call to recognize who we are. Jesus said I am the light – you are the light. How much clearer could this message be? How much clearer could this invitation be?
Richard Rohr writes that St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of his order, used to go wild over Christmas because he knew that this event represented the divine in all of physical creation. Francis said that every tree should be decorated with lights to show that it is filled with light already.
We are all filled with light already. That is what we celebrate this season, and we do it every year to remind us that it is happening in every moment. We are so apt to forget, in the rush and bustle of life. We are invited to remember that at that first incarnation, Spirit poured out its love, its energy, which we call the Christ consciousness, on all matter, all things, all beings. We remember and celebrate that outpouring today, that divine incarnation as us, as all of us and all of creation. It is good.
Community Candle Lighting
And so tonight we celebrate the coming of the good news, the coming of the light of the Christ in us and in all people. We shine the light that breaks through all darkness, illuminating our world with hope, joy, love, and peace.
Each of us is a being of light – a manifestation of that divine light that is being constantly poured out in all of creation.
Song: “Silent Night”
As we go out of this place,Rev. Melanie Eyre
May we be a presence of healing and peace.
A blessing and a comfort to those in need,
A light to those in darkness.
A source of celebration and joy to all we meet.
May the light of Spirit radiate from our hearts and from this place, and continue to illuminate our world. And so it is.
Merry Christmas, Goodnight and God Bless!
This service aired on December 27, 2020.