Thoughts for Advent Sunday 3rd December 2023 and prayers for when lighting your Advent Candles by Canon Dean Fostekew

Advent Sunday 

‘Happy New Year’ - a bit early you might be thinking? Not at all because today being Advent Sunday is the beginning of the Church’s new year. It might seem a bit daft beginning a new year today when the calendar year till has a good month to go, could the Church not wait a bit? Actually, no and when you consider that pre-1752 New Year’s Day was the 25th March starting the Church’s new year today is as good a day as any. 

We begin the Church’s new year today because with the beginning of Advent we turn our thoughts again to the forth coming celebration of Christ’s nativity. Every year the church reminds itself of Jesus’ life story and the birth narratives coming in our darkest months give us hope of new life and new hope, Even if life does not tend to be as straight forward as we might sometimes hope.

Stephen Cherry in his poem ‘Advent Wreath’ writes:

I wonder about circles

and straight lines.

I wonder about eternity 

and time.

I wonder, though this sounds grand, about the 

purpose of my life.

Many of us will no doubt have wondered similar things this past year if things did not plan out as we might have expected. With the days of our lives there seem to be echoes of repeated patterns of living from the past but also the emergence of new ways of being too. The familiar and the unknown all mixed together and it’s never easy when that happens.

Advent, can I think, does give us hope. For Advent is a time when we look forward and anticipate the future through the lens of the known. What I mean is that in Advent we ponder on the second coming of Christ by reminding ourselves of his birth some 2000 odd years ago. We remember through the Old Testament prophets and the Gospel writers what happened and hear from the letter writers how that birth changed the world and the lives of all God’s people. And, we can do the same thing this year. 

As we light the candles on our Advent wreaths we do so thinking about the teachings of the prophets about the Messiah and the knowledge of his birth and how his life is so intimately bound up with our lives. Ponder and wonder on these facts over the next four weeks and as you light your candles pray for each other and our world; that the light and hope of Christ will never be lost. 

Advent Wreath Prayers

Advent Sunday & the First Week

We light this candle to recall prophetic voices which announced the Prince of Peace, which foretold the coming Kingdom of God, which called for justice and announced the song of happiness.

May the light overcome the darkness.

Advent II & the Second Week

We light this candle to recall, shepherds on the hills and throughout the ages who in their place of work have been ready to hear good news and who were delighted to pass it on to others.

May the light overcome the darkness.

Advent III & the Third Week

We light this candle to recall Simeon and Anna and all those who are the Quiet in the Land. Those who have awaited every generation for the glory of the Lord to be revealed and who have patiently accepted your will and timing.

May the light overcome the darkness.

Advent IV & the Fourth Week

We light this candle to recall Mary and Joseph who saw their visions and dreamed their dreams, who heard angelic announcements and were obedient to your Word and their calling, giving a home and care to the Child.

May the light overcome the darkness.

Christmas Day

We light this candle for the baby of Bethlehem, for the child born to be King, for the boy in the cradle who became the man on the cross, the Redeemer and
Saviour of the World.

The darkness is overcome, the light is around us.