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Another Advent

Advent LightsGreetings friends in Gnosis,

It’s been almost a year since this blog has seen some activity:  something I hope to rectify!

In the meantime, with Advent Sunday coming up this weekend, I wanted to share with you an excellent new Advent Wreath Service created by Rev. Deacon Michael Strojan.

http://michaelseblux.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/this-little-light-of-mine/

This is a practice I will be experimenting with this year, but of course, there is also the Advent practice I shared last year, which can be found here:

https://gnosticdevotions.wordpress.com/tag/advent-wreath/

The peace of Christ be with you all this Advent season!

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Christmas Day: The Nativity of the Divine Light

I’m posting this a bit early in anticipation of Christmas Day.  Now there are a few different ways to celebrate Christmas with your Advent wreath, depending on the way it’s designed.  Some only have four candles, in which case you can either light all the candles again, just as you did last week; or you can replace them with all white candles, to represent the Divine Light.  Other wreaths have a place for a central candle, which should be white – with these, you can light all the candles in order, lighting the central candle last.  If your Advent wreath has only four candle holders, you can also place a white pillar candle in the center (This is what I do, although I prefer a gold candle myself).  However you choose to perform this ritual, it’s perfect to celebrate at Christmas dinner, or any other time on Christmas Day that is convenient for you.

Note also that instead of O Come Emmanuel (a traditional Advent song), today we sing Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful).  Have a blessed and holy Christmas, everyone; and may the Divine Light shine within you always!

Christmas Day
Nativity of the Divine Light

Intent: The Incarnation of the Redeemer

Pray:  In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O Emmanuel, Christ, desire of all people, come and dwell within our hearts.  Fill us with Thy Light.

℟. Amen.

Let us pray. God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth hath given way to the bright dawn of Thy Light made flesh.  Make us a people of this Light.  Make us faithful to Thy Logos, that we may bring Thy life to the waiting world.  Grant this through Christ our Indwelling Lord.  Amen.

If a 5-candle wreath is used, the four outer candles are lit in order, followed by the central Christ candle.  If a 4-candle wreath is used, the same candles may be lit, or they may be replaced with white candles, to represent the Divine Light.  The candles are lit in order, and Adeste Fideles may be sung, followed by a time of personal meditation on the Incarnation of the Redeemer.

A reading from the Holy Prophet Mani:  Jesus, Thy burden is light for him who can carry it. Many are the marvels of Thy nativity, O Jesus; yet when we say, “Thy nativity,” who could have created Thee, O Lord Jesus? Thou who art eternally life from life! The Son of God cast into a humble womb; He who is the All, in whom the All exists. He came down to the flesh, He put on the vesture of humanity. God became man; He went about in the land, He took a man’s likeness, the raiment of a slave. He came for all the sheep of his flock, because He knew there was no other to rescue them. He had come without a body, yet His apostles declared of Him that He took the form of a boy, an appearance like that of us, men; He came down, and manifested in the world among the people of the Jews.

A reading from the Gospel of Philip:  Whoever receiveth the Light will be invisible, and cannot be restrained.  And nothing can harass such a man, even while living in the world.  And, furthermore, when that man leaveth this world, he hath already received the truth in the form of images, and the world hath already become the eternal realm.  For, to this man the eternal realm is Fullness and, as such, is manifest to him alone – hidden not in darkness and night, but hidden in perfect day, and holy light.

Alleluia, alleluia.  Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.  Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.  Alleluia.

(For a choral version of O Come All Ye Faithful with lyrics, if you’re not familiar with the song, take a look at this YouTube video.)

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Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love

Tomorrow is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, when we light the last candle on our Advent wreaths – but don’t put those wreaths away just yet, because there will be one more candle-lighting ritual in celebration of the Nativity of the Light on Christmas Day.  I hope that you have had a beautiful and stress-free Advent season, and may the peace of Christ our Indwelling Lord be with you all!

Intent:  The Nature of the Redeemer

Pray:  In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O Emmanuel, Christ, desire of all people, come and dwell within our hearts.  Fill us with Thy love.

℟. Amen.

Let us pray. O Thou our Redeeming Power, our minds have not ceased thinking of Thy wonders; our thought hath not swerved from searching Thy secrets. Our insight hath not moved from aspiring to Thy mysteries; nor hath our counsel ever moved from seeking Thy marvels. Our wills have arisen desiring to comprehend Thee, our Lord. We long to see Thy brilliant countenance, O ever-coming Lord!

All four candles are lit in order, and O Come Emmanuel may be sung, followed by a time of personal meditation on the Nature of the Redeemer.

A reading from the Holy Prophet Mani:  When men asked for the Redeemer, and the Mother of Life, the first Man and the Spirit of Life decided to send to their children One who should free them, and save them: to show them the knowledge and the righteousness, and rescue them from evil. Being kindly, and filled with pity, the Good Father sent from His bosom His beloved Son into the heart of the earth, and into its lowest parts for the saving of souls. While coming, the Son changed Himself into the form of man, and He appeared to men as a man, being no man; and men fancied him to have been born.

Alleluia, alleluia. Veni, Domine, et noli tardare: relaxa facinora plebis tuæ Israel. Alleluia.

(Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O Lord, and tarry not: forgive the sins of Thy people Israel. Alleluia.)

Amen.

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Third Sunday of Advent: Joy

Tomorrow marks the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, and is one of two Rose Sundays in the liturgical year (the other being Laetare Sunday, during Lent).  While Advent was traditionally a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for the celebration of the twelve days of the Christmas season, on Rose Sunday the fast was relaxed as a minor day of celebration and joy.  As a symbol of this celebration, rose is the liturgical color for the day; and so rather than light a purple candle (a penitential color), we light the single rose colored candle on the Advent wreath in joyous anticipation of the coming of the Christ on Christmas Day.

Intent:  Recognition of the Messenger

Pray:  In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O Emmanuel, Christ, desire of all people, come and dwell within our hearts.  Fill us with Thy joy.

℟. Amen.

Let us pray. Christ, our Light, come to us, and take us unto Thee! We have trusted to the knowledge of Thy hope, which called us unto Thee; take us up to Thine abode, O Celestial Spouse! We are trees in the orchard of Thy Light; our Light shines like the sun; for we have lit it with Thy fire, and nourished it with the good oil of purity. O Thou who art our eternal saving power, cleanse us in Thy waters, that we may become divine again, as we once were. And come to us, O Thou dearly awaited One, come to those who await Thee today, and forever.

 The first and second purple candles, and the rose candle are lit, and O Come Emmanuel may be sung, followed by a time of personal meditation on the Recognition of the Messenger.

A reading from the Holy Prophet Mani:  The Messenger of Light, who comes at the right time and assumes the form of the true church and human flesh, and acts as leader within righteousness, chooses the personalities of his disciples and then frees them, both those of the Elect and those of the Hearers; he dives down into the deep oceans of the waters of the world, and draws them out from the jaws of the deep. And they do not stray again, but after other rebirths and toil for the Light, they come to the hands of the Angels; and the Angels carry them to the places where they shall be refined as pure gold.

Alleluia, alleluia. Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni ut salvos facias nos. Alleluia.

(Alleluia, alleluia. Stir up, O Lord, Thy might, and come to save us. Alleluia.)

Amen.

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Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

Intent for the Day:  The Divine Within

Pray: In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O Emmanuel, Christ, desire of all people, come and dwell within our hearts. Fill us with Thy peace.

℟. Amen.

Let us pray. O Blessed Sophia, Thou who didst implant a Spark of Thy Divine Light within Thy children on earth, grant at this time of introspection that we may see that which is divine in the world around us, in our fellow beings, and also in our selves. Help us to awaken the Christ within, that we may increase in Gnosis, and return to the realm of Light.

The first and second purple candles are lit in order, and O Come Emmanuel may be sung, followed by a time of personal meditation on the Christ Consciousness – the Divine Within.  Then follows a reading:

A reading from the writings of the Gnostic Fathers: Cease to seek God in created things on the outside, but seek Him within thyself; and thus learn who it is that takes possession of thee and says: “My God, my consciousness, my understanding, my soul, my body.” Then learn whence cometh sorrow, and rejoicing, and love, and hate, and being awake, and being asleep, and getting angry against one’s will. Now if thou inquirest into these things, thou shalt find Him in thyself, one and many, like the atom; thus shalt thou find the way out from thy lesser self.

Alleluia, alleluia. Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Alleluia.

(Alleluia, alleluia. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go unto the house of the Lord. Alleluia.)

Amen.

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First Sunday of Advent: Hope

During the season of Advent, a short meditation practice will be shared for each Sunday (and Christmas Day), that is suited for use with lighting an Advent wreath.  For those of you not familiar with Advent wreaths, please allow me to explain:  the wreath is (usually) a circular candle holder, in which is placed three purple candles, and one rose colored candle.  Occasionally you’ll find Advent wreaths that also hold a central candle to be lit on Christmas Day, but the practice consists of lighting one candle each Sunday of Advent (the pink candle being reserved for the third Sunday) until all are lit, while praying, meditating, and reading from scripture.  This is often a nice practice to accompany the evening meal, but can be done at any time of day.  What follows is a short home Advent pratice for the First Sunday of Advent.  May Christ our indwelling Lord bless you all during this holy Advent season.

On the first day, it is appropriate to pray a blessing over the Advent wreath before commencing with the rest of the candle-lighting ritual.  This does not need to be repeated on the following Sundays.

The Blessing of the Wreath

O God, by Whose Word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessing upon this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ within, and may receive from Thee grace in abundance. Through Christ our Indwelling Lord. Amen.

Advent Sunday

Intent for the Day:  Seeking the Light

Pray:  In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O Emmanuel, Christ, desire of all people, come and dwell within our hearts.  Fill us with hope in Thee.

℟. Amen.

Let us pray. O Father of us all, we pray to Thee, that as our days grow shorter, and our nights grow longer, we do always remember to seek Thee in all things.  We remember that even in the darkest of nights Thou art with us, as the evergreen remains so even in the depths of winter.  As we light the first candle on our wreath we remember Thy promise of old that the Christ should come among us, and bring Light to the world.  We search our own hearts, and prepare them for the birth of the Christ within.

The first purple candle is lit, and O Come Emmanuel may be sung, followed by a time of personal meditation on Seeking the Light.  Then follows a reading:

A reading from the Book of Sophia:  Seek, all of you, after the Light, so that the power of your Soul that is in you may live. Do not desist from seeking by day and by night, until you find the purifying mysteries of the Light which refine the body of matter, and make it a pure Light very refined. Do to all who come to you, and believe in you, and listen to your words what is worthy of the mysteries of the Light. Give the mysteries of the Light, and do not hide them from them. For he who shall give life to a single soul, and liberate it, besides the Light that is in his own soul, shall receive other glory in return for the soul he has liberated.

Alleluia, alleluia. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam, et salutare tuum da nobis. Alleluia.

(Alleluia, alleluia. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy; and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.)

Amen.

(The link to the lyrics of O Come Emmanuel above contains a midi of the basic tune, but for a better idea of how it is sung, feel free to check out this YouTube video, if you’re not already familiar with this traditional Advent song.)

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