Last night Rock Spring held a candlelight vigil for peace and unity. A week after the mass shooting at a church in a small community outside San Antonio Texas we opened our sanctuary doors to our Piedmont Heights community and congregation for a time of lamenting and grieving those killed through acts of violence and also a time to contemplate peace in the world and in ourselves.
Those present could light a candle for people and situations that are affected by violence. I found myself lighting candles for and thinking about and grieving for those of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and for those of Emanual AME church in Charleston, SC. I lit candles for people affected by domestic violence and targeted by sexual predators. I lit candles for those people whose stories of violence I don't know. I lit candles for those affected by violence caused by forces of nature: hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis...
We were offered a handout out to guide of meditations (see below) and it lead me to redirect my thoughts after grieving to consider the concept of peace and to inventory where I find it in myself and in my life. It challenged me to be open to how I might become more of an "instrument of peace" for myself and others.
If you missed our candlelight vigil consider having one of your own, at home. Use the rubric below.
A Vigil is a time set apart for lamenting and grief and also for watching and waiting.
In a quiet setting:
Prayer Guides for Advent
Advent is an eagerly-anticipated time of year. Well, maybe, for some of us, it is a dreaded time of year. Whatever your gut reaction to Advent may be, Advent provides us with a unique opportunity for wonder, for questions, for comfort, and for spiritual exploration. It’s also the time when it’s actually OK to hear Christmas music in stores and restaurants.
Traditionally the word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” I prefer its dynamic sense: someone is on the way; someone is moving toward us with great urgency. Someone wants passionately to be among us in the ups-and-downs of our real lives, to bring new energy to our labors, our joys, our sorrows. That someone is Christ.
There is a paradox inherent in our Advent observance. We prepare ourselves for the arrival of someone who has already come. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) That happened already. So what are we waiting for?
When we celebrate Communion, the celebrant declares, “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of our Lord Jesus, until he comes again.” Jesus has been here. Jesus is coming again.
In this mysterious in-between time, we have a renewed opportunity to wake up, to pay attention, to watch for the ways Christ is moving among the realities of our world. We also hear a voice calling us to do more than watch. For each of the four weeks of Advent, our worship team is providing you with a prayer guide in the hope of providing you with a few tools to enrich your Advent experience and your Christmas celebration. We also hope these guides will deepen your awareness of God’s love for you -- and your neighbor.
Together in Christ,