Join with Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, the World Methodist Council, and the Methodist Church in Britain.
Our Christian colleagues in Bethlehem tell us that this Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem the lights that normally adorn the birthplace of Jesus will remain unlit in memory of those who have been killed in the current conflict. The patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem have noted that the traditional festive services in the Holy Land will be somber in nature due to the ongoing war.
The second candle on the Advent wreath represents peace, and in some traditions is known as the ”Bethlehem candle.” This Advent, we invite Methodist churches across the globe to do something out of the ordinary and refrain from lighting the Advent candle on the second Sunday in Advent (Dec. 10) and on subsequent Sundays.
The Old Testament lectionary reading for Dec. 10 starts with the words “Comfort, comfort my people says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1) As such, it seems appropriate that we take this opportunity to think about Bethlehem and those who have been killed and those who are seeking comfort as they mourn. This unlit candle will serve as a constant reminder that we stand in solidarity with all who are suffering in the Holy Land.
The usual Advent liturgies can still be read, but we suggest including a short addition, given below, to underline why this ”peace” candle will remain unlit.
On Christmas Day we invite you to take a photo of your Advent wreath with the second candle unlit and send to firstname.lastname@example.org. The staff at the Methodist Liaison Office will forward your pictures to local church communities in the Holy Land so our sisters and brothers in Christ can see that we stand in solidarity with them over the festive season.
For further information, contact Rev. David Hardman, Methodist Liaison Officer, Jerusalem, at email@example.com
Additional Advent liturgy for the second Sunday in Advent
As we prepare ourselves to welcome the birth of the Prince of Peace, we understand the festive lights that normally shine bright in Bethlehem will not be lit this year in memory of those killed in the recent violence. To stand alongside our sisters and brothers in Christ, and all who mourn this Christmas, we will leave our second Advent candle unlit during Advent and Christmas.
Possible additional Advent liturgy for remaining Advent services
We remind ourselves that this year one candle remains unlit, as the Christmas lights in Bethlehem remain unlit, in memory of those killed in the current conflict in the Holy Land.