We met in the bandstand as the wind howled around making the planned candle lighting rather a challenge. Thanks to Steve working as a wind shield we had a measure of success.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” – Isaiah 9:2
Then and Now As we enter this season of Advent, let us remember the condition of the Jewish people 2000 years ago. The Romans had conquered Palestine and subjected the inhabitants to a set of foreign and often brutal rules. The conquerors did not respect, nor even understand, the religion and customs. People had lost their freedoms and when anyone tried to rise up in rebellion it was brutally put down.
Sound familiar? In the same area today there is oppression and lack of respect for beliefs and customs. Palestinians are subjected to brutality and their freedom of movement is limited. Family homes are demolished and when they try to rise up in rebellion it is brutally put down.
2000 years ago in the midst of that turmoil, a child came, born in a dingy, dirty stable. Out of those humble beginnings, a saviour was born. Because of that child we believe that love is stronger than fear, peace more enduring than hate, and that darkness will never put out the light. Because of that child, we dare to pray that injustice and oppression will end.
A time of quiet to pray for peace, freedom, justice and love in our world.
All – We are a people of hope, and this light is a reminder of that hope.
T lights were lit for those who we named in prayer
All – We are a people of hope and this light is a symbol of our prayer
We looked at John Ch. 7 and 8 where Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles It was one of the three great pilgrimage festivals of the Jewish Year. The Feast lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of the seventh month – Tishri, that is early October in our calendar. The festival took place at the end of the fruit harvest. The people lived for 7 days in shelters or tabernacles made of palm branches. It was an agricultural thanksgiving, but also a reminder of their ancestors’ tent-dwelling days in the wilderness during the Exodus. It was a time of great rejoicing.
During the feast there were two very important events. The first was a great procession led by the priests to the Pool of Siloam to collect water which was ceremonially carried back to the Temple through the Water Gate, and then poured out. It was a vivid reminder of God’s provision of water during the Exodus. It would have been at this point of the festival that Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)
That was the first important ceremony in the Feast of Tabernacles which Jesus applied to Himself. The second was even more dramatic. The Feast actually went on for seven days and seven nights. To make this possible, each night four huge candelabra were erected in the Court of the Women to provide illumination for the whole Temple area. The candelabra were very large, the height of the Temple walls. The Temple itself was built on the highest point in the city of Jerusalem, so these huge flaming torches would have illuminated the whole city and probably way beyond its walls. It was then that Jesus stood up and said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (John 8:12).
Why is this statement of Jesus at this time so controversial? Firstly, he’s claiming to be God, because the light from the candelabra was seen as a reminder of the “pillar of fire by night” which led the Israelites to the promised land. The lights at the feast were also associated with the great expectation of the coming Messiah. (Isaiah 62:1-3) So through this statement Jesus is saying that he is the Messiah!
So as Advent begins let the enormity of Jesus promise sink in, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life….”
The bread and Wine
In this Advent season we await the coming of Christ Light of the World, come,
Come to the oppressed and exploited,
Come to the despised and rejected,
Come to all in whom the divine image is distorted.
We wait in joyful expectation.
Come not as a man of power, but in love and compassion,
Come to the outcast – like the shepherds in the fields,
Come to foreigners – like Magi watching from afar,
Come to rich and poor, young and old, male and female,
We wait in hopeful anticipation.
Come to bless all creation with your love,
Come to bring salvation on the earth,
Come to rule with justice and in peace.
Come Light of the World, illuminate our path.
We wait with all the peoples of the earth,
Light of the World we welcome your coming.