This morning in our campus worship, we lit advent candles to remember the women of Christmas. In case you want to do the same at a worship gathering, here is the text:
The first candle is for Ruth and for Belonging.
Ruth is a poor, widowed foreigher who becomes the wife of a respected man from Bethelehem and a great-grandmother of King David, and is part of the lineage of Jesus. Ruth testifies to the inclusion of Gentiles as God's full plan of redemption. Ruth represents BELONGING. For any of us who have been unsure if we belong in the family of God, Ruth demonstrates God's welcome into the covenant community of Christ.
We light the second candle for Mary and for Belief. At great risk to her family, her reputation and her upcoming marriage, a young Jewish girl dares to believe an angel sent by God that she will bear the Son of God. When Mary meets Elizabeth, Elizabeth proclaims over her: Belssed is she who believed that there woudl be a fullmentment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." Mary represents BELIEF. For those of us who dare to be courageous, believe the impossible and obey, Mary is our example.
The third candle is lit for Elizabeth and for JOY. Elizabeth is called a righteous and blameless woman, yet she lives with great grief that she has not been able to have a child. In this time and as a Jewish women, Elizabeth's greatest desire would be to bear a son and connect her husband, Zechariah, and herself to Jewish ancestry. When God gives Elizabeth the son she has longed for, Elizabeth is full of joy and praised God for her own child. When Elizabeth encounters Mary, Luke says taht she is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims her joy with a loud cry. Elizbeth's candle is the candle of JOY. For any of us who have sought to live holy lives, but have also been faced with long roads of grief, Elizabeth's JOY is an encouragement to us.
The fourth candle is for Anna and for HOPE. Anna, an elderly widow, stays in the temple worshipping, praying, fasting and waiting on God. When Anna meets the baby Jesus, Anna beings to praise God and to proclaim the good news of the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Anna waits on God and never gives up. She is an example of a life lived in HOPE. For any of us who are waiting on God for many years, Anna is a sign of HOPE for us.
The final candle is for Jesus Christ representing Jesus as The Light of the World. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." For any of us who want to belong, who believe with abandon, who experience joy in the face of grief, and who hope beyond hope: Jesus is the Light of Our Lives.