Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 22 - Word&Way

Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 22

“Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

As a child, one of my favorite moments of the Christmas season was the Christmas Eve lighting of the Christ candle on the large Advent wreath that stood at the front of my church. All season, we would light a candle each week — time that for a child passed painstakingly slowly. Finally, though, while snuggled in next to all my family in the pew, it would be time for that last candle to be lit, and I would have a sense of contentment in the completion.

Unfortunately, in our world, the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are often extinguished by the grim realities we have explored in this devotional series. Our world continues to be a place that is plagued by Fear, Turmoil, Despair, and Loneliness, putting out the expectant lights of Advent.

What do you fear? What smothers the light of hope?
Where do you see turmoil in the world? What extinguishes peace on earth?
Why are there so many unhappy people? What snuffs out daily joys?
Why are we more “connected” than ever in history and yet more lonely? What causes the love light to go out?

Yet, through it all, there is nothing that can extinguish the Christ light. It is permanent and fixed. We can go back to it again as often as we need to be “relit.” When any one of these emotions captures our heart and casts us into the shadows, we can return to the warmth of Christ to find comfort again.

Our whole life is a series of being “blown out” by the world and being “relit” by Christ. For those who do not know of the light or cannot reach it alone, it is our job to bring the light to the shadows or to carry people to the Christ-light.

Mourners lay candles outside the headquarters of Charles University on Dec. 22, 2023, for the victims of a mass shooting in Prague, Czech Republic. (Petr David Josek/Associated Press)

Joining a healthy Christian community is like being a candle in a place filled with oxygen that allows us to burn brighter. We nurture the flames in each other, allowing us to sustain our light and carry it out into the world.

How can you relight Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love this year? Is there one area in which you struggle more than the others?
How can your Christian context strengthen the Christ-light in all?

As we watch the Christ Candle lit once again this year, let it remind us to turn…

Fear into Hope

Turmoil into Peace

Despair into Joy

Loneliness into Love



Sarah Blackwell is a contributing writer at Word&Way and a graduate of the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity. She is author of God is Here, an adjunct instructor in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina, and a D.Min. student at McAfee School of Theology. Follow her writings at proximitytolove.org.