This Advent season I am going to reflect on a hymn or carol daily as part of my spiritual practices. I am not sure where all these reflections will take me, but in conversation with my spiritual director, I am going to leave room for both “the head stuff” and “the heart stuff.” Some days might be more of one or another. I invite you to join me, as together we make space to listen, and be present, to sense what God might be up to.
Advent officially begins today, as it is the First Sunday of Advent. In most congregations, this will likely include the lightning of the first Advent candle. With that in mind, I’m thinking today about the song, “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah,” by Wayne Wold and set to a Yiddish folk tune.
Light one candle to watch for Messiah: let the light banish darkness.
He shall bring salvation to Israel, God fulfills the promise.
Light two candles to watch for Messiah: let the light banish darkness.
He shall feed the flock like a shepherd, gently lead them homeward.
Light three candles to watch for Messiah: let the light banish darkness.
Lift your heads and lift high the gateway for the King of glory.
Light four candles to watch for Messiah: let the light banish darkness.
He is coming, tell the glad tidings. Let your lights be shining.
As you light an additional candle each week, you may add a verse, until on the morning of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, you sing all four verses. I love this song’s simplicity, as there is the constant refrain, “let the light banish darkness.”
The first two verses tell about what God in Christ will do. “He will bring salvation,” “He shall feed the flock,” and he shall “gently lead them homeward.” The first verse also reiterates God’s promises and how God does indeed fulfill them.
Verses 3 and 4 are calls for action, and for our response. “Lift up your heads and lift high the gateway.” “Tell the glad tidings. Let your lights be shining.”
My hope is that these are messages we all dig into a bit this Advent season. I also hope they are ones that might just come through in the sermon I will be preaching in a few hours. No matter what, I give thanks for the promise that God is here, and that indeed God fulfills the promise.
May your First Sunday of Advent be one of listening, presence, and “being awake.”
Credit/Reference: Wayne L. Wold, “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah,” found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 240.