Scripture – Isaiah 12:2-6
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Advent Reading – “This Year Will Be Different” by Ann Weems
Who among us does not have dreams
that this year will be different?
Who among us does not intend to go
peacefully, leisurely, carefully toward Bethlehem,
for who among us likes to cope with the
commercialism of Christmas
which lures us to tinsel not only the tree
but also our hearts?
Who among us intends to get caught up in tearing around
and wearing down?
Who among us does not long for:
gifts that give love?
shopping in serenity?
cards and presents sent off early?
long evenings by the fireside with those we love?
(the trimming devoid of any arguing about
who’s going to hang what where,
the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mingling
with the pine scent of the tree,
and carols gently playing over our idyllic scene)
and the children! the children cheerfully talking about
giving instead of getting?
Who among us does not yearn for
time for our hearts to ponder the Word of God?
moments of kneeling and bursts of song?
the peace of quite calm for our spirit’s journey?
This year we intend to follow the Star
instead of the crowd.
But, of course, we always do
intend the best.
(And sometimes best intentions tend to get the best of us!)
This year, when we find ourselves off the path again
(and we invariably will!),
let’s not add yet another stress to our Advent days,
that of “trying to do Christmas correctly”!
Instead, let’s approach the birth of our Lord
with joyful abandon!
And this year
let’s do what Mary did and rejoice in God,
let’s do what Joseph did and listen to our dreams,
let’s do what the Wise Men did and go to worship,
let’s do what the shepherds did and praise
and glorify God
for all we’ve seen and heard!
As for the Advent frantic pace, we don’t have time for that.
We’ll be too busy singing!
This year will be different!
Lighting the Candle
Prayer: God of joy, help us to lose this year. Help us to lose our obsession with getting things perfect – setting the perfect table, finding the perfect gifts, decorating the perfect house and the perfect tree. Help us lose our preoccupations with shopping lists and over-packed schedules. Help us lose all of those distractions that pull our attention away from the approaching stable. God, help us get lost this year. Help us get lost in the overwhelming love of a mother for her extra-special child. Help us get lost in the faith of three sages who traveled so far on just a star and a prayer. Help us get lost in the wild abandon of angels singing joyful praise to a tiny baby. This is the year, God … this is the year. Amen.
 Ann Weems. “This Year Will Be Different” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 71.