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"Christmas Lighting Service" 12/19/2021 (text)

“Christmas Lighting Service” with Rev. Dr. Christine Emmerling, Rev. Mark Stuefloten and Rev. Teresa Stuefloten 12/19/2021

Rev. Mark Stuefloten:

This morning being the 4th Sunday before Christmas we shall light all 4 advent candles plus the center candle. I invite you to imagine lighting each candle.

The first candle to light is Hope. Hope is the seed for a greater future. Several hundred years before the birth of Jesus the Christ Isaiah foretold of a great messiah to come, and the Jewish people kept hope burning alive in their hearts. This day we hold this same hope for the rebirth of Christ within our heart, and the hearts of everyone everywhere and beyond.

The second candle to light is Faith. We nourish hope with acts of faith. We pray, we serve, we give, we act as if it is already done unto us. And like Mary, we can say “.. my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

The third candle to light is Wonder. We nourish faith with expectancy and wonderment. Being as little children our heart and mind is open to receiving the great gift that is upon us. Even the seeming impossible is possible this day.

The fourth candle to light is Joy. We nourish wonder with great joy. We joyfully live each day sharing the gift that we are. Giving our smile, giving a helping hand to those in need. We recognize each person as part of our very self — that God Self in each and everyone everywhere.

The center candle to light represents the Christ Light born within us. “Like the wise men of old who brought their gifts from afar, we come into this sanctuary of prayer to offer our gifts, the rich spiritual gifts of love, talents and service. We bring the glad tidings of the rebirth of Thy spirit into the minds and hearts of all people. May the gift of life, the gift of light, the gift of peace, the gift of plenty bear witness to the fulfillment of the promises of Christ, the word of God made manifest.”

Rev. Teresa Stuefloten:

“Today I’m going to tell you a story that you have probably heard many times when Christmas is celebrated - the birth of Jesus Christ. However, we believe that the Nativity story is not just to be told one day of the year; rather, it is a story that takes place within us each year as well.

“Christmas is more than a celebration to honor an event that happened to just one person long ago. It is a story about the birth of the Holy Child within all of us. This story honors the presence of love within all of us. For this is Christmas.

“Christmas is – an event – a real celebration! It is a quickening of the power of joy in our lives. It is an awakening of our mind, heart and Spirit as we once again create a loving environment in which the new birth can take place – the Holy Birth! The specialness of this season occurs again as we ignite God’s love within us.

“As we listen and move through this story, 12 candles shall be. These candles represent the main characters & symbols in the Nativity story. I invite you to think of each candle as also being lit within you representing a part of your soul’s journey. You are here to bring a new birth, an awakening, into your soul! The Nativity Christmas story is happening within you!

“Think now of that which is the ‘the real’ you. Do you remember when Jesus said: ‘Before Abraham was, I AM?’ You too have always been, for you live eternally in God, in the ever presence of love. This is your story – your spiritual journey.

1. We begin this story with Mary and Joseph which represent the 1st & 2nd candles. The Christ in you is born when conditions are ready in your soul for this awareness to take place. What are these conditions?

Unselfish love plus spiritual wisdom – these are the conditions of the soul necessary for the birth of the Christ in you. Divine guidance and the feelings of oneness must be brought together in an unselfish and patient way... thoughts and feelings aligned to the word of God... then your Christ Light shines in the world.

Mary represents pure unselfish love – untouched by greed, fear, or anger. She symbolizes the inner, devotional part of your soul that prays in the temple, your inner temple, daily in order to give birth to greatness. (Light 1st candle)

Joseph represents spiritual wisdom – the divine wisdom within that says yes to the birth of the Christ. It is the guiding, protecting spirit that is needed for these fragile beginnings of something so sacred, so precious. (Light 2nd candle)

2. Next we have the town of Bethlehem which represents our 3rd candle: The word Bethlehem means HOUSE OF BREAD, and this is the place where our story begins. Within you, Bethlehem represents your “House of Bread.” In your own soul, this is the place where the very substance of God feeds your whole being with truth and love. Yes, God substance fills you. The substance of God is that place out of which every good thing takes shape, and is born. (light 3rd candle)

3. Mary and Joseph were denied entry in to an inn, because it was too crowded, and gave birth in a manger, a stable filled with sheep, and cattle; this animals represent our 4th candle. The animals represent our thoughts, and these animals were gentle and quiet. Have you ever denied the birth of a great potential in yourself because you were overcrowded with worldly, fearful thoughts? The birth can only take place in a mind that is humble, receptive and at peace, represented by the manger in the stable. It is in just such simplicity that greatness is born in you – in the manger of your heart, a great but simple place for the Christ in you to be brought forth. (Light 4th candle).

3. Now we have the star - the guiding light; the star represents our 5th candle. The star shows where the Christ child is born. It is the light that leads us to the appointed place of the birth. It is by means of prolonged and devout meditation that this star appears in the aura of the devotee, and at its appearance a Teacher appears. The star signals the Holy Birth of one who has begun to walk the Christ way. It represents in you and me that first glimmer of the light of Truth that eventually leads us to the awareness of our true identity – spiritual sons and daughters of God. (Light 5th candle)

The baby Jesus arrives surrounded in love and light; this represents our 6th candle. Jesus, the name means savior, and represents that in you, which is your Real Truth - your saving grace. This is your real nature – the answer to your prayers. This is the New You!

New beginnings are always fragile. This new Christ Child needs much nurturing. At first it is new, young and needs nurturing by spiritual understanding, wisdom and pure unselfish love.

Your wisdom guides you in bringing forth this image and likeness of God in you. The Christ in you is your divine pattern, and it unfolds day-by-day, bringing forth, new joy, peace and abundance. The Christ matures and grows strong, taking its rightful place in God’s divine humankind.

(Light 6th candle)

Rev. Dr. Christine Emmerling:

There were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night which represent our 7th & 8th candles. The flock represent your peaceful nurturing thoughts. (Light the 7th candle)

Shepherds represent your observer self that watches over your thoughts, and alerts when they stray or intruders enter in. The shepherds guide us into true understanding that God is love, our Source of all good – and the abundance of every good thing. (Light the 8th candle)

5. The shepherds hear of the Christ through spiritual messengers called angels; the angels represent the 9th candle. The angels are now singing, and you hear the voices say. “Fear not, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. A Savior is born this day – Christ the Lord.” Angels represent messengers of God ideas – the true messengers of Spirit that herald the coming of a new and greater life for you. As you open your heart to Divine ideas, they guide you into your new life – the one your soul is truly seeing right now. Angels bring you good tidings of great joy. (light the 9th candle)

5. There came from the East three wise men, also referred to as kings and Magi. Kings represent our ruling thoughts which are rich with wisdom. Magi represent astrologers, philosophers, and magicians. These represent our 10th, 11th & 12th candles)

The wise men followed the star, this star shines not in the sky but in the heart.

They were following their heart, the place of wisdom, understanding and intuition. They were men of vision, and this inner light guided them to the one with the greater light that shines like a star above his head. Its light can be caught only by those who look for it with their inner eye.

When they come to the manger, they saw the young child with Mary and Joseph. And they opened their treasures and presented unto Him gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The gold represents spiritual gifts; the riches of the Spirit. We charge our mind with wise and rich ideas. The gift of gold is a consciousness of the omnipresent richness of substance. (Light 10th candle)

The frankincense represents the transmutation of the material consciousness into the spiritual. Spiritual law supercedes physical law. The gift of frankincense is living in a world that is Spirit substance. (Light 11th candle)

The Myrrh represents the eternity of Spirit; our life experiences are transformed to love. The gift of myrrh is the transforming power of love. (Light the 12th candle)

6. This is the nativity – your nativity. It is the story of the Christ being born in your heart today and everyday. Each day is a new beginning filled with the rich possibilities of Spirit. The potential of God is in every circumstance of your life, every moment. This is what Christmas is all about. It is a time of giving and receiving the gifts of the Spirit.

7. We have one more candle to light. Out of the 12 comes 13 or the Christ consciousness. Now let us light our 13th candle. Christ in you, is the hope and glory. This is the Light of your own Spirit that never grows dim. For truly, you are the Light of the World. Take a moment now in silence to experience this light of all 13 candles glowing brightly within you...

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