Keeping Vigil Over Hope

Advent: Keeping Vigil

As we enter the season of Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we begin a four-week series on “Keeping Vigil.” Lisa Watson talks about what keeping vigil is and how to keep vigil over hope. [Luke 2:8-9]

Resources

Poem: “Hope,” by Lisel Mueller

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.
It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

Communal confession

[Leader]
Dear God, King of peace and mercy.
Make your rest here this morning;
may your grace be ever before us.

[All]
Have mercy on us, O God,
according to your steadfast love and abundant mercy.

[Leader]
We confess our selfish actions that seek
to advance our kingdom instead of yours.
We confess the ways we’ve hurt others,
both knowingly and unknowingly.

[All]
Have mercy on us, O God,
according to your steadfast love and abundant mercy.

[Leader]
Take from us our bad intentions and motivations
that pursue our own glory instead of yours.
Take all from within us that does not seek to help others.

[All]
Have mercy on us, O God,
according to your steadfast love and abundant mercy.

Wash us clean of our sin and make us new.
For today we take refuge, again, in your steadfast love and abundant mercy.
Amen.

Candle-lighting liturgy (courtesy of our friends at Vox Veniae)

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.
Advent is a season of anticipation. Of waiting.

In this season of expectation,
we prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah,
into the bustle of our lives
and the hard-to-find moments of solitude.

We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah,
into our homes and situations,
along with friends and families.

We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah,
into our hearts and those often-hidden parts of our lives
for beneath the surface of your story
is an inescapable fact.

You entered this world
as vulnerable as any one of us
in order to nail that vulnerability to the cross.

Our fears, our insecurities, and our sins,
all that separate us from God,
exchanged by your Grace for Love.

We cannot comprehend the reasoning,
and only marvel that Salvation comes to us
through a baby born in a stable,
and reaches out to a world in need.

In this season of anticipation,
we prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, our Messiah,
and we light a candle of hope to honor you,
Immanuel, God with Us.