On that first Christmas as the Angels sang of peace from the hillside – all was not so peaceful in the world, and it would become less so in the years that followed with King Herod’s murderous search for his baby rival. So, it is that joy and sorrow have always seemed to exist together on this earth in complicated ways. I don’t need to tell you that 2022 is no exception as disasters have struck and wars have raged. As we shared during our Harvest Ingathering service, Covenant World Relief and Development estimates there are now 100 million refugees displaced around the world.
Many in our congregation have also experienced this tension of joy and sorrow first hand this year whether that is through the loss of loved ones, the loss of meaningful relationships, the loss of jobs, or the experience of a lost sense of direction. Still others are facing physical challenges or diagnoses that make the future anxious. There has been no break in 2022 from disasters and tragedies heard through newspapers, computers, and television screens. While in many ways, we are emerging from the pandemic, the effects on society still linger.
And so, this coming Sunday morning, December 11, as we have for the past number of years, we will take a moment to acknowledge the grief and burdens within our Church community amidst the joy. We will lay them before God and pray together for the comfort He promises in a moment we have called Lights of Hope. ECC intentionally places our Lights of Hope service on the third Sunday of Advent, when we also light the Joy candle in the advent wreath.
In this service, we invite you to light a candle in acknowledgment of the burdens you carry. There is nothing magical or mystic about lighting a candle, but rather it is an intentional act of worship to get up, come forward and acknowledge your grief before the congregation so your sisters and brothers in Christ can pray for you.
Additionally, we encourage any who are worshiping with us online to participate as well, and you may do that in a couple of different ways. During the Lights of Hope service, you are invited to light a candle at your home as an act of worship. If you need a candle, you may stop by the church this week to pick up the same tea lights we will use for Lights of Hope. Another option is if you would like one of the pastors at ECC to light a candle on your behalf, please let us know by filling out the form at ecclife.net/lightsofhope.