Category Archives: Advent

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Love

Fourth Sunday of Advent – Love

In the midst of grieving, when our hearts feel faint, praise often comes, much to our surprise. In the aftermath of destruction, we can bear witness to God’s life-affirming presence that sustains and guides us. We light the fourth candle of Advent to symbolize God’s enduring love that calls us to liberate, comfort, rejoice and be in community with all God’s creation.

Let us pray:

Spirit of Grace, help us plant seeds though we may never see the mature trees or lives. Give us your vision, broad and far-reaching, that we will not be undone by matters of the moment. Give us the perspective of the Star with a wisdom born of longevity and its constant commitment to shining in the darkness. Amen.

©December 12, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at:

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy – Third Sunday of Advent – Joy

Third Sunday of Advent – Joy

Happiness is easily shattered by greed, disregard or circumstances, but joy can bloom in the bleakest of situations, confident in God’s faithfulness. Joy looks despair and hatred in the eyes and is moved to action. We light the candle of Joy with Mary’s song about God’s subversive love echoing through the centuries.

(Light two purple candles; then pink/rose candle.)

Let us pray:

Loving Spirit, from generation to generation, you have called us to lift up the downtrodden, feed the hungry and shower the world with your mercy.  Give us the bold courage of that young, dark-skinned, Middle Eastern woman named Mary who risked everything for Love. Equip us to be midwives for a world in pain. And may the world be moved by our rejoicing as vital, diverse communities of care come to life. Amen.

 ©December 5, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at:

Advent Candlelighting Liturgy – Second Sunday of Advent – Peace

Second Sunday of Advent – Peace

How often we are blown about by whirlwinds of hatred and division, by the aftermath of grief and storms! We are shaken to the core or stimulated for battle. Before any word is uttered, before long-lasting decisions made, we are invited into the silence. We light the second Advent candle to serve as a reminder of God’s peace that exceeds our comprehension and distress, a peace offered to each of us today.

Light two purple candles.

 Let us pray:

Grace-filled God, soothe our quivering souls. Fill our hearts with peace and resolve; with tenderness and courage. Assist us in speaking truth to power and countering rudeness with kindness. Strengthen us to be harbors of refuge for those who are oppressed and fierce advocates for all people and lands that are threatened. We pray confident in and expectant of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

 ©November 29, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at:



Advent Candlelighting Liturgy – First Sunday of Advent – Hope

Advent One – Hope

When days shorten and the lights of reason, of reverence are threatened, our hearts cry out in the wilderness. And the Word leaps off the page with encouragement, “You are the ones who will turn swords into ploughshares; who will forge community in the face of assault”. We light this first Advent candle, the candle of Hope, grateful for God’s persistent love.

Light one purple candle. 

Let us pray together:

Holy One, we often cross our fingers wishing life different. Teach us that Hope is a delicate seed that requires our commitment and care. Teach us that Hope is a wild-winged companion intent on justice. This season help us give birth to Hope by our love and labor. Help us say yes to the journey in spite of our fears. Amen.

©November 23, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at:




Words to Contemplate During This Advent Journey

Words to Contemplate During This Advent Journey

Use each in writing or as inspiration for photography or as a prayer focus for the day.

Nov. 29 – Packing

Dec. 1 –   Reticent

Dec. 2  –  Threshold

Dec. 3 –   Soul searching

Dec. 4 –   Cold

Dec. 5 –   Starlit night

Dec. 6 –   Harbinger

Dec. 7 –   Preparing

Dec. 8 –   Dirty

Dec. 9 –   Gifts

Dec. 10 – Unfamiliar territory

Dec. 11 – Homesick

Dec. 12 – Ponder

Dec. 13 – Camping

Dec. 14 – Sunrise

Dec. 15 – Neighbor

Dec. 16 – Heartfelt

Dec. 17 – Impatient

Dec. 18 – Starlit path

Dec. 19 – Expectant

Dec. 20 – Couple

Dec. 21 – Growing

Dec. 22 – Tired

Dec. 23 – Horizon

Dec. 24 – Kindness

Dec. 25 – Overwhelmed

Longest Night Experiences

Longest Night Experiences

Does it seem to you that the whole world has gone mad with joy? You are in the midst of grief over the death of a loved one, have a loved one who is approaching death, perhaps you’ve lost a job or hope in your future. All the while you are bombarded with ads for gifts ideas, cheerful music and memories of traditions that are impossible to you now and your aching heart just wants to escape.

Please join us at St. Francis at 4:00 p.m. on the winter solstice (December 21st) for our Longest Night service. We would like to offer you a safe place, a time to be gentle with your heart. There will be reflective music, readings and opportunities to light candles, if you wish. Feel free to invite a family member, friend, co-worker or anyone you think might benefit from this time.

For Children:

We will offer a Longest Night experience for children from 3:45 – 5:30. Through candle making, stories and more we will explore loss, God’s creation at night and that the night can shine. Limit: 20 elementary children, 10 preschool children.

Child Care:

Child care will be provided for infant through 2 year olds.

There is no charge for child care or the children’s experience, but we need each child to be registered by December 15th.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Longest Night Service – 4:00 p.m., in The Center, Refreshments afterward

Children’s Longest Night Experience – 3:45 – 5:30

Preschool – Rm 41, Elementary – Rm. 30-31, Snacks provided

Child Care – 3:45 – 5:30 – Room 10

St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church

Northwest corner of River and Swan


Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy 2014

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy 2014   

Focus: Surprised by Christmas

You can have one, two or three people read the parts, with different readers each Sunday. One of the readers or someone in their family can light the candle(s). Prayer can be in unison with congregation, led by one of the readers or read by a reader ending with a congregational Amen.

Advent One – Surprised by Silence. – Zechariah

In this world of constant noise, silence can be disturbing or terrifying. In silence we can experience an exposed vulnerability with ourselves and God. It is in the silence that God can speak to us – naming and loving us – and offering guidance on the way.

We light this first candle of Advent giving thanks for silence and the wisdom we will find there. We light this candle in honor of Zechariah who can teach us that, beyond our initial fear, silence can take us to a deep place of growth.

Let us pray:  God of the Still, Small Voice, help us create and bless silence, the place where we can listen and our hearts can hear what you would have us learn. Give us courage to follow you, even when we are met with skepticism and ridicule. Surprise us again this Advent with your overwhelming love and faithfulness. Amen.

Advent Two – Bewildered, Bothered and Befuddled – Joseph

Dreams can be bewildering messengers. Oft times they grab us around the throat with stories of the unexpected or the impossible leaving us dripping with sweat or filled with puzzlement. Joseph experienced such messengers and was willing to walk into a divine future even with “how can this be?” rattling inside his brain.

We light this candle to remind us that God speaks to us in our dreams. We pray not so much that our dreams will come true, but that we will listen to God’s dreaming our life into a reality of love and compassion.

Let us pray:  Holy Mystery, allow us to believe that the impossible or improbable can happen when we are committed to Christ-like love and action. Continue dreaming us into such people and such a community, we pray. Amen.

Advent Three – Startling News – Elizabeth and Mary

Have you ever had someone trust you with painful or potentially difficult, unsettling news? News of a divorce, or sexual orientation or a life threatening illness? What did you do with that sacred trust? Elizabeth embraced Mary with unconditional love.

This candle represents compassionate listening in the midst of turbulent, worrisome times. We pray that we may be beacons of love and light for those desperate for a safe haven. We are grateful for Christ who listened and loved no matter the person’s status or situation.

Let us pray:  God of Grace, allow us to see the courage it takes for a person to be vulnerable with us. Give us open hearts, hearts of love that treat such trust with gentle care. We pray grateful that you are always listening, ever ready to hear our joys and our struggles. Amen.

Advent Four – Unexpected Guests – The Innkeeper

The innkeeper had no warning of special company when the bedraggled Mary and Joseph, on the brink of parenthood, came knocking. He had no time to prepare hospitality – no time to bake a cake, reserve a room or set his house in order. He had the option of offering them the second best space available or turning them away. He offered the second best place, the stable.

We light this candle celebrating raw, impulsive, heartfelt hospitality. We give thanks for those who stay ready to receive unexpected guests and for those whose hearts are open whether their home is ready or not. We light this candle asking the Holy One to birth such hospitality in each of us.

Let us pray: God of Extravagant Hospitality, we are moved and grateful for kindness and warmth extended to us. May we offer such grace and welcome to others. Help us see the weary traveler, the grieving heart, the one in need of a friend and the one who is rejoicing. May our hearts and homes be as open as Jesus’ example of caring and compassion. Amen.

Christmas Eve – Awestruck by New Life – Jesus

We are caught off guard by the sight of a newborn baby, a giraffe giving birth, or by green leaves after a brutal winter. Understandably we are awestruck by new life. How fitting that Peace Incarnate came as an infant! What better way to get the busy world’s attention!

Jesus offered second chances and clean slates to those he encountered. We light this candle in honor of Christ who still brings life, even in unexpected ways and places. We light this candle joyous of each expression of new life and rebirth in our world and hopeful for each harbinger of life and resurrection on the horizon.

Let us pray: Holy One, help us bear witness to your story and to bring life, even in bleak situations. Let us shine with your grace and mercy that can transform the world. We pray grateful for baby Jesus and the Christ he became who continually offers each of us fresh manifestations of peace, love, hope and joy. Amen.

©November 24, 2014 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright and Cynthia’s full name in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at:

Mary Advent ~ Meditation

”Mary Advent”

Luke 1:46-55

Soul Café     December 19, 2012

©Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk



Our greetings during this time of year often miss the mark.


How many times a day to we utter or receive a Merry Christmas greeting, perhaps accompanied with a hug and kiss?


But, as pastors, some of us want to encourage the fact that it is Advent. Wait. Prepare. The trees are up, decorated and lit, but the journey is in progress.


Then we hear the rebuttal. But the carols are playing on the radio and often in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. The Nativity sets on tables and in yards and they include baby Jesus and often the wise people.


But it is really the season of expectancy and preparation. Advent is a time of pregnancy with all the elation and struggles that brings.



Sometimes our greetings miss the mark – Merry Christmas we say and the person responds or wants to respond What’s so merry about it?


Many people experience this time of year with dread and gloom and the bright lights and peppy songs only exacerbate their depressed feelings. Many people, perhaps all people this year, are filled with grief.  The songs and bells do little to assuage their feelings.


Worship helps. Many churches have Longest Night services that give voice to overwhelming sadness or loneliness. Perhaps your congregation will offer such a time of worship on the 21st. Or you have advertised which nearby congregation  does.


As hard as it seems, this is the Season of overcoming perceived odds, of hoping in the face of seemingly lost causes.


Some of you may have watched the UA- Nevada football game last Sat. or seen a replay or two.  Here’s how the last 1:51 went.


1:51 left – Nevada scored a field goal putting them up 2 touchdowns – some in the crowd may have gathered their belongings to leave. It was the picture of hopeless causes.


1:38 – series of passes toward receiver on near sideline so he could catch the ball and step out of bounds, stopping the clock because AZ had no time outs left.


:43 – AZ scored


:42 – AZ made their extra point


:40 onsides kick, fumble and AZ recovered the ball


:37 pass to 55 yd line


:22 – pass to 8 yd line


:20 – TD


:19 – extra point making it 49 – 48 in favor of AZ


:15 – AZ intercepted Nevada’s first pass


:13 – Coach Rodriquez spoke to Matt Scott, could only see Scott’s face, but the coach must have said something like, Just catch the ball and take a knee. Scott smiled knowing what he needed to do.


They had prepared to this game

For fully participating in an often grueling situation


To communicate and know what to do even with no time outs left


To be heads up in order to intercept a pass or recover a fumble


To be poised in the face of what seemed hopeless


As fun and exhilarating as it is, remember it is just a football game and what happened in the last two minutes cannot measure against what God can do in bleak situations.


Oh, we all need to hear and read that this week.


And so I wish you a Mary Advent – M-A-R-Y


Real, nauseating, full of wonder, full of fear


Real, raw, laid bare, grueling, the unsanitized version


A journey that is paved with hope not wishful thinking

Marrow deep hope that has been experienced and witnessed for generation


Not magical thinking, finger-crossed, eager for Santa-down-the-chimney approach


It is the hope that Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Hannah, Simeon lived waiting for Incarnational Love.


And it was Mary’s yes that moved beyond willingness to participate to her naming needs and ways of being in service. This week we remember Mary, the singer, whose Magnificat was a call to justice.


As Joan Chittister wrote “the definition of justice I most often use is this: justice is love expressed in terms of sheer human need: food, water, clothes, shelter, medicine and health care, education, human rights and freedom, hope for a future for one’s children, freedom from fear and violence, the dignity of work, and participation in society and history. “


Eastern church’s name for Mary Theotokos “the God – bearer. And that is the crux of the matter: we are all called to be God-bearers, to say yes to Emmanuel, the Incarnate One, to give birth to peace and justice throughout the world.


When we are confronted with such a possibility our body language and questions may be the same as Corrine Peters’ Annunciation Mary simultaneously the quizzical look and pointing to self with one hand “me?” “how can this be?”and, with the other hand, touching our bellies in deep reverence for new life and new possibilities already begun.


Years ago I read a story of a man and his wife taking their grown daughter to the airport to see her off to the Peace Corps. They all knew the potential dangers of disease and political unheaval, but still she had insisted that this was her path. He said, “Waiting in that airport, it became crystal clear to me that all her life I raised her to be a good Christian and the call she was answering was to be a real Christian.”


Do you think that is how Mary’s mother must have felt? I raised her to be a good Jew and she wants to be a real Jew who follows God in spite of assaults on her reputation, even if the path is unmarked and unsettling, even if the way is dirty and demanding. She wants to give birth to the Holy and teach us how to do likewise. And she can remind us that, through it all, God goes with each of us.


Thanks be to God. Amen.

Advent Worship ~ Soul Cafe December 19, 2012

South District Clergy (Desert Southwest) of the United Methodist Church meet once a month for a gathering called Soul Cafe.  We began with worship using the following bulletin.

 Image used is the captivating Annunciation by Corrine Collymore Peter. See her web address at end of bulletin.

Soul Café                     December 19, 2012


 CANTICLE OF THE TURNING         Verse 1                    Beth & Ed


 God of All Hope, you are the Breath of Life who brings birth is a million, miraculous ways.  The mountains shout of your enduring strength and the galaxies form your canopy of grace. Thank you for surrounding us with beauty and inviting us into an intimate relationship with you.

 Sometimes we have morning sickness or evening sickness, sick of chaos and clutter, sick of violence and prejudices. Our lives are diminished when we embrace the way of consumerism and fail to see the everyday needs and deep pain of those held hostage to poverty, oppression and grief. Forgive our failures to see and respond and lead us into the way of Love.

 In spite of tragedies and temptations, global fear and fighting, we are expectant. We witness harbingers of your kin_dom where the lion and lamb share a bed and snake and child play together without fear or harm. We long to be such harbingers.

 May our waiting be filled with purpose and preparation and may our anticipation be permeated with silence and song. Filled with hope in your power to smooth the rough places, soften stone-like hearts and lead humanity to the wide and gracious place, we pray. Amen. *

 CANTICLE OF THE TURNING       Verses 2 & 3      Upper Room Worship Book p. 18                      All


As Susan plays the piano, please come to the altar as you feel led, light a candle and offer a sentence prayer for justice.

God who is always on the side of the marginalized and exploited, kindle a fire in our hearts for those in need. Let the flames of justice illuminate the dark corners of oppression and the deep crevices of hatred. Teach us the words to Mary’s song. Help us live in such a way that sparks of hope and redemption will pass from generation to generation. We pray, willing to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you.  Amen.*

CLK Adapted from Alive Now Nov/Dec 2012

SCRIPTURE                                Luke 1: 46-55

MEDITATION                               “Mary Advent”         Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk

CANTICLE OF THE TURNING          Verse 4                               All


The Lord be with you

And also with you

            Lift up your song of gratitude to our Creator

           It is fitting to give thanks to God as we prepare for the birth of Peace


Like our ancestors Sarai and Hannah, we call on you to sustain us in barren seasons and we give thanks for your faithfulness.  Like Zachariah and Joseph who listened to you in silence and in dreams, we pray in this season for our hearts and minds to be open to your Spirit.

With the angels who sing “Fear Not” and all the women, men, youth and children who have brought forth justice and compassion throughout the centuries, we join their unending song of praise:


          Holy, holy, holy, God of mercy and Light

            All creation is filled with your goodness

            Blessed is the One who comes in the name of Love.

            Alleluia! Hope is our Advent song!

 Blessed is Jesus who was born a refugee and broke every barrier that separated people. He worked tirelessly to bring peace and justice to outcast and strangers, to priests and those too wealthy for their own good.

We recall how Jesus broke bread with his followers and bid them remember the Bread of Life and the Cup of Forgiveness. And so in remembrance of Jesus’ life of service, we offer our hearts and lives to be peacemakers as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ was born. Christ is born. Christ will be born again.

 Loving Grace, pour out your spirit on us gathered here and on these gifts of grapes and wheat. May we be nourished with compassion and courage to bring reconciliation and comfort to a needy world. And you,

O God, will receive all the praise for inspiring and equipping us to live as one.  Amen.  And Amen.*


 O Most Compassionate Life-giver, many we honour and praise you; may we work with you to establish your new order of justice, peace and love. Give us what we need for growth, and help us, through forgiving others, to accept forgiveness. Strengthen us in the time of testing, that we may resist all evil, for all the tenderness, strength and love are yours, now and forever. Amen.*



Chosen, awakened, filled, challenged, we cannot help but respond “Yes, Lord.” Make us restless, Loving One, until the basic needs of all humankind are met. Make us restless until every person knows profound love and beauty. Help us be blessings and catalysts, life-givers and life-transformers because of your grace. Amen.*

CANTICLE OF THE TURNING             Refrain                    All

BLESSING                                                                       Rev. Karen Vannoy


A special thanks to Susan Schild for playing the piano for our worship today.

Worship leaders: Rev. Karen Vannoy, Rev. Beth Rambikur, Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk, Rev. Ed Denhan

The Lord’s Prayer © 1995 Gift of Many Cultures , Bill Wallace, Aotearoa/New Zealand, United

*All other prayers and Great Thanksgiving © December 2012 Cynthia Langston

Artwork – The Annunciation – by Corrine Collymore Peters. Permission granted for use with this bulletin. To see more of Corrine Peters’ work visit

If using any of the liturgy, please give written credit in the bulletin and/or on screen.

Godward — an Advent song

Friends and Colleagues, I know you are in the midst of Ordinary Days or Days after Pentecost, finance campaigns, pastoral care and such. And here I am offering lyrics for an Advent song.

Before long Advent will be upon us. Stores are already decking their halls for Christmas. Each year in many liturgical churches pastors strive to entice and educate that Christmas with its carols and baby does not come until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; yet many people want to sing those dear songs all during Advent.

I offer this poem that can be sung to the tune of Away in a Manger that is reflective of Advent and still allows participants to connect with memory-rich music. I only ask that, if you use it, that you please add © June 24, 2012 Cynthia Langston Kirk to your bulletins and screens with the lyrics.


Stark desert that transforms and locust-fed John

Both voice the call clearly: turn, turn toward God

Strip all false pretenses and self-centered ways

Despite sacrifices and wilderness days


Courageous girl Mary said, “Yes, Holy One.

You’ll bless the wide circle as I birth your son.”

Let all those with burdens know your full release

As we reflect Jesus, grace-filled Prince of Peace


Devoted sheep keepers intrigued by the light

Responded to angel song that sacred night

Compelled into worship, embracing unknown

Let’s leave the familiar and find our way home


Long winding our journey, expectant each heart

Consumer bombarded before we can start

Let us prepare deeply to meet the Christ Child

Not rush to the manger, but take God’s sweet time


May we be like these folk, the Spirit-inspired

Lead us to the manger and always Godward

May our hearts be open and also our homes

For thousands are longing to be loved and known


Copyright June 24, 2012 Cynthia Langston Kirk

Can be sung to the tune of “Away in a Manger”


Pamela Gonzalez has written a wonderful resource entitled It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: Carols for the Advent Season. Rev. Gonzalez has penned new Advent lyrics for familiar Christmas tunes. This little gem can be purchased through Owl Mountain Music, Ft. Collins, CO.