My brother Bill Kellermann, Methodist pastor in Detroit, offers a stiff drink of a sermon for the first Sunday of Advent.
“Thirty years ago during anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, an order of Pretoria regime, forbid the singing of carols in the Black townships because they stirred up such energy and hope. A newspaper report quoted a South African police agent: “Carols are too emotional to be sung in a time of unrest…Candles have become revolutionary symbols.” (See Walter Bruggemann, Israel’s Praise)
I think the same is rightly true of the Advent Wreath – it tells a circle of resistance, a No in the form of a Yes.
Yes is to work of God in Hope, Peace, Joy (the pink candle), and Love
Yes to Hope says NO to the despair that paralyzes and disempowers us all.
Yes to Peace says NO to all the violence that is growing and raging unleashed in the present darkness. Isaiah says for the nations and peoples to learn the ways of Lord, they must unlearn war, and we might say its kin – white supremacy, misogyny, islamaphobia, homophobia. If we want to learn the ways of peace, can’t study war no more.
Yes to Joy says NO to what? Maybe it too resists the gloom of despair, but I’m inclined to set it against fake joy, the ersatz happiness attached to all things marketable.
Lastly the “Wage Love” candle is a great Yes which says NO both to fear and to hate. Personally and communally, this is a lovely (and deadly serious) spiritual agenda for the season; in it we practice for the whole of life.”–Bill Wylie Kellermann
Read Bill’s entire sermon.