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As with any season in the church year, we start preparing the liturgy and other events long in advance.  I am so grateful to work in a parish where we have so many gifted and imaginative people.

A month or so ago, I had a conversation with Angela Wakeford who helped me envision some of our Advent liturgy.  It was her thought that focusing on peace, given much of the conflict in our world of late, that gave me direction for our prayers around the Advent wreath and the focus of my preaching.

Then, as Michelle and I discussed music, she suggested we use a piece of music written by Ralph Peter, a new parishioner at The Ascension.  This is the song we are listening to and singing the refrain together at the lighting of our wreath.

So I share with you here two of our Advent Wreath Lighting prayers, and the words to the song, "Advent Sketches" by Ralph Peter.  I'm also including a Blessing written by Jan Richardson, a United Methodist minister and author. It is a reminder that we are the ones who hold God's light in this world and especially in this season.  Take whatever words that speak to you, ponder them, hold them and let them guide you on your journey this Advent and Christmas!

Prayers as we Light the Wreath

Advent One

As we light this candle today, we pray that you, Loving God, would help us open our hearts in preparation.  Show us how to prepare a place for your Spirit of Peace to reign in us, as people, as a church community, as a neighbourhood, as the world.  May your peace reign.  Come Lord Jesus, come.  Amen.

Advent Two

Your voice calls out to us in wilderness places, coming from people we don't usually listen to.  It is strange to us that peace would come into our world in such ways.  And yet it does, year after year.  So help us, Loving God, to hear your voice in unexpected places, in voices unfamiliar to our ears, proclaiming your peace, disrupting our hurried lives, lighting our way in a world that often seems so dark.  Come Lord Jesus, come.  Amen.

Advent Sketches. Song by Ralph Peter

1.Comfort my people, O say to them, Your God is coming to you, Prepare my people, make a straight way, Mountains and hills bend low.

Refrain: Emmanuel and we pray, Emmanuel, come to us. Slow down to listen, Slow down to see, Our God is coming to us. 

2. Voice in the desert, cry out and say, Your God is coming to you, The time is upon us, yes close at hand, Behold our God will come.

3. Angel come visit O say to her, Truly you are most blest, Praising God's goodness singing her prayer, Let this be done to me.

4. Slow down and listen, slow down and see, Where God is dwelling with us, In life around us, in those we meet, Our God is coming to us.

Blessed Are You Who Bear The Light, by Jan Richardson

(from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons)


Blessed are you

Who bear the light

In unbearable times,

Who testify

To its endurance

Amid the unendurable

Who bear witness

To its persistence

When everything seems

In shadow 

And grief.


Blessed are you

In whom

The light lives,

In whom

the brightness blazes –

Your heart

A chapel,

An altar where

In the deepest night

Can be seen

The fire that

Shines forth in you

In unaccountable faith,

In stubborn hope

In love that illumines

Every broken thing

It finds.