Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.
Pope Francis, Easter Urbi et Orbi message, March 31, 2013
For those who are only celebrating Solstice with our Yuletide Advent prayer circle, we have now completed our candle lightings. But if you are also (or only) counting down to Christmas, tonight you will light (or re-light) the fourth candle on your Advent Wreath.
For many Christians, this candle is sometimes called the Angel Candle, and is in remembrance of the divine songs of the heavenly host, who announced the coming of the King – which is also why this candle is sometimes the royal purple. This would be the perfect occasion to sing Advent hymns, which are focused, not yet on the celebration, but the anticipation (for the Child has still not yet been born).
Others consider this the Candle of Peace. And heaven knows, we need all the prayers for this that you can offer.
But most denominations seem to agree that if the previous three candles represented hope, peace, and joy, then tonight’s flame is the candle of love.
So tonight, you will first light the other three candles, and then this second to last one, calling forth the love that is the Divine gift that we receive, and give, and are.
This is the acknowledgement that there is no greater power than love. This is not wishful thinking; I mean, truly, it is the greatest and only ultimate power in this world.
As one theological writer describes it, “It is stronger than rulers and empires, stronger than grief or despair, stronger even than death. We love, because God loves us.”
May people of every faith remember this, and live by it.
So when making choices about our successes and failures, our leaders, our families, school safety, economics and money, environmental policy, programs for the hungry and homeless, and.. well, every decision we encounter, let us never, ever fail to measure by the presence of Love.
Let us always discern with the eyes of compassion and forbearance. May we never forget that every single one of us is sacred, and here by the gift and grace of Love.
For no matter how (or if) you call upon the Divine One(s), this is both the bedrock and meaning of our existence.
Love to you and yours, and to us all.