Are you curious about what goes into a community night gathering? Every week, BSVM staff joins each community house to eat dinner together, share in prayer and reflection, and open space to talk about dynamics that arise when people live together. As a Ministry Volunteer, you will help lead the rest of your community in part of the weekly prayer time. Over the service year, volunteers rotate leadership so each person pairs with another housemate to lead the prayer reflection. Below is an excerpt from BSVM 19-20 current volunteer, Olivia Nguyen. She developed the following reflection on hope, symbolized in the first Advent candle, and delivered it with her housemate Mark Conforti during community prayer this month.
Wavering Light | December 2019 | by Olivia Nguyen
“In the season of Advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. The Advent wreath marks the passage of time for four weeks of Advent. The wreath is in the shape of a circle which symbolizes the eternal. God is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end. The evergreen in the wreath demonstrates God’s presence in all seasons, and represents God’s never-ending love.
In this wreath are 4 candles: three purple and 1 pink. One candle is lit each week in Advent and each of the candles represents something different as a way to prepare our hearts for the Coming of Jesus. The first week is Hope. The second week is Faith. The third week is Joy. The fourth week is Peace.
Since yesterday marked the first week of Advent, we wanted our contemplation to center around the idea of hope. To do that, we are going to do a meditation with candles. We ask that each of you take a candle in front of you. Take a moment to examine the candle. Take note of its form: its colors, temperature, and shape. Now we invite you to focus on 2 questions: 1) What is one way that you resonate with the candle in front of you? 2) How does the flame represent hope for you?
There is a light within each of us that shines brightly. It is sacred and uniquely handcrafted by God. Even with this light, there are many challenges that life presents us. Sometimes our light may waver or dim compared to other times – whether it be through our sorrows, our pain, our grief, or our loss. You might think that your individual light doesn’t matter in this world, but because of YOU:
- Someone has a favorite mug to drink out of.
- Someone hears a song one the radio, and it reminds them of you.
- Someone has read a book you recommended to them and gotten lost in its pages.
- Someone’s remembered a joke you told them and smiled to themselves.
Hafiz of Shiraz once said, “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” While you may think that the task may be impossible alone, do not think that you do not have an impact. Your fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that you have left behind. And if you look at the table here in front of us tonight, you see you are not alone.
As we look at our lights on this table, notice how the light of another candle does not cloud your own. As they shine together, their warmth and glow is compounded. They are stronger and they depend on one another to create a deeper impact. The light of one candle does not exist to obstruct the light of another. Although a simple gust of wind may extinguish any and all of these flames, the potential is still there for the candle to be lit again. And, in fact, it’s the light from another candle that can kindle the light of an extinguished flame. As we continue on this journey as ministers of compassionate presence, we hope our light radiates the warmth in ourselves, and invites others to reflect their own light as well.”