‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Our Advent Candle Procession at St Thomas Philadelphia has become a key moment in our church’s life, almost as eagerly anticipated as the Christmas John Lewis advert! Here are some thoughts to help explain the thinking behind this year’s theme.
Advent is a time of year when we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus. We are looking forward to His arrival and there is expectancy, a deliberate looking to God as we remember him being born amongst us because of the great love that he has for us.
Our theme of HOPE is an obvious one for advent, but it also fits in very well with a recent sense we’ve had that God is asking us to ‘Look for signs of the dawn’. In the first moments of dawn, when in the east the light just starts to break through, it is possible to be facing the other way and to see only darkness; it still feels like the night. We feel God is saying, “turn around, and look for the dawn”, in other words, “look for what I am doing, for where I am breaking into the darkness”. It’s a call to be attentive, to seek God out, to ‘not let go of hope or our dreams’ as the procession song this year says, but to hold on to the promises he has given us. “The glory of the Lord appears over you and nations will come to your light.”
As we gather together this Advent, we will process a candle at the beginning of each service; a reminder of Jesus the light of the world who broke into darkness many years ago and still does today. Jesus is the hope for our lives, our church and our city. ‘His glory appears over us’. Let’s be eagerly anticipating him and looking for the signs of the dawn; for the light breaking into darkness.
‘If morning has spoken, you know it won’t be our last
As the light wakes the city we’ll stand tall and raise our glass
We won’t let go of hope
Or let go of our dreams’
‘Hold on Hope’ by Dan Gautreau