Lighting the Advent Wreath: Third Week
You are invited to light your home Advent wreath during the Sunday morning liturgy, joining in the blessing printed here. You may also light the wreath in the evenings—before or after the evening meal, or at the end of the day—with one member of the household taking the leader part and the rest joining in the response, or one person reciting the whole blessing.
Leader: Blessed are you, God of might and majesty, for you promise to make the desert rejoice and blossom, to watch over the strangers, and to set the prisoners free.
As we light these candles, satisfy our hunger with your good gifts, open our eyes to the great things you have done for us, and fill us with patience until the coming of the Lord Jesus.
O ransomed people of the Lord, come,
All: let us travel on God’s holy way
and enter into Zion with singing. Amen.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
By the late Middle Ages, the calendar had drifted enough that December 13 was the shortest day of the year. It was also the commemoration of Saint Lucia, or Saint Lucy, whose very name suggested light and whose grisly martyrdom in the last great Roman persecution led to her often being depicted holding her eyes (put out by her torturers) in a dish. Though a native of Sicily, her cult was particularly durable and popular in Northern Europe. Swedish and Swedish-American churches often held “Sancta Lucia” pageants in December, with a girl from the congregation representing the young saint and others around her as a sort of royal court. She’s also a patron saint of writers, which I personally appreciate.
Instead of a psalm this Sunday, we sing or recite the Song of Mary from Luke’s Gospel, commonly known by the first word of its Latin translation: Magnificat. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” Mary sings, as the Messiah takes flesh from and within her. Mary, much more than Lucy/Lucia, became an object of universal veneration in Christianity, and her song goes a long way to explaining why. She, the ordinary girl from the Galilean countryside, becomes the means by which God shows his mercy, shows strength with his arm, scatters the proud, lifts up the lowly, sends the rich away empty and fills the hungry with all good things. There are recurring attempts to insist that Christianity is a fundamentally masculine or male-centric religion. But Mary brings those attempts to naught. When God became human, Mary—and no human man—needed to say yes. No male input was necessary.
We are blessed with the words, images, and examples of these otherwise unremarkable young women who, by their faith, overcome the world. They are exactly the sort of person who would otherwise be forgotten in the great sweep of history. But they stand out as ones who lit the lamp of faith for future generations.
Pray: for young people, for the growth of their faith, and for their safety and welfare; for all who seek God’s purpose in their lives; for writers; for justice and equality for all people regardless of gender; for your own needs and those of our community.
Our Father, who art in heaven...
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Pastor Ben Dueholm
God's Work. Our hands.