Advent: Signs of hope
In this third week of Advent, we are focusing on the theme 'hope' and Isaiah 35.1-10.
Strengthen the weak hands . . . and lighten the load
I worship in one of the largest and most ancient churches in Europe. Our servers include some of the youngest and the smallest in Europe, with 6-year-old boys and girls leading processions carrying candles set in medieval candlesticks.
After a lifetime of serving, our head server has welcomed these littlest ones with joy. But he is worried that the candlesticks are heavy, and the combination of their weight, the lit candles and the long albs our young servers wear could lead to the young people being hurt.
A family recently asked if they could help to lighten the load borne by our little servers. They have since commissioned some small, beautiful processional candlesticks for our young servers to carry.
These new candlesticks – that may arrive in time for Christmas – will be a sign of hope for us all. They have been given in memory of a member of our Minster Community who died: a young boy who was the smallest child in this family. A long journey of grief for the parents and those who travelled alongside them through these sad hours, days and months is behind these new candlesticks.
This year the family celebrated its newest arrival, another smallest child in our family. We’ll remember his brother every Sunday as servers carry his candles ticks are confidently and safely ahead of us into church.
Isaiah’s words were for his people who grieved for home and for a place of safety and peace. The long years of exile had brought weariness and fear and loss of hope. Isaiah’s gift is to find words to inspire his people and through his courageous and prayerful presence to lighten their load.
May there be moments this day when, by our words and our presence, we bring light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death and so help to lighten their load.
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