Let’s add the Candle of Mess to our Advent this year

Our pianist has only been with us a few months. She’s an outsider to our community and our church traditions. A church woman herself, she answered the ad we placed for a pianist needed: Sundays, 8:45 – 10:15 a.m.

She walked through the doors our first Sunday of Advent, greeted me as I said, “it’s Advent, you never know what’s going to happen so hold on.” I’m not sure if I detected the look of confusion or fear on her face.

Surprise, and a bit of a mess, is often what you get when you corral a group of folks not accustomed to church. For some, it brings back memories of their youth. There is a divide between generations and cultures when it comes to church though not always what I expect.

Look closely below to see Sally cat behind the figures.
Look closely below to see Sally cat behind the figures.

The room is set. Randall has placed every single one of the 100+ pieces of a grand nativity on the table in back of the chapel. In all of it’s beauty, honestly, it’s too much for me. But it’s not for me. The figures tell a story so they remain.

Advent candles

chapel tree



He’s set our simple Advent candles at the front and a lovely tree sits to the right of the platform, dressed in muted tones to complement not take over. The externals have been planned and arranged. That’s the easy part.

We’ll have different men read the Advent parts each week. They’ll stand in front, on either side of the candles, pass the microphone back and forth adding a pause in their readings I’d rather not have. Many will look confused when it comes time to light the candle and fumble with the lighter provided so they’ll dig their Zippo out of their pocket and light a candle, maybe two and I’ll sit in the back of the room shaking my head and smiling. Smiling because does it really matter what lighter they use? Does it matter that it’s the second Sunday of Advent and they’ve lit two candles in addition to the one already lit so we have three? (I breathe out a sigh of resignation)

Our first Sunday they got the candles right. Right candle, right lighter, right time (with a nod from me). And then the order fell apart. The song we were to sing following this was skipped as was the prayer and music solo. Somehow, the simple outline clearly printed on a program and handed to everyone was ignored? Forgotten?

What a mess.

There was a time this would have frustrated me. How could people not follow the simplest of directions? How would they learn how Advent is suppose to go? Order is part of God’s design and plan and, really? A Bic lighter dug from your pocket to light that purple candle?!

This time I shook my head and smiled. The one learning is me.

I’ve learned the order, the lighter nor the candles matter. Only our honest expressions of God’s grace and love will make a real difference. That’s what is always on display. And I sigh again wondering if I’ve given my best at that.

David Crowder’s song continues to remind me that our messy lives is just why Jesus came.

In the middle of the mess, there is majesty
In the middle of my chest, is the King of Kings
While the world was waiting on
A change to come along
Light broke in
Coming like a song

All this glory, all this glory, all this glory
In the middle of the night, after all this light

Jesus, God with us
Jesus Christ has come and I’m undone

Maybe next year we’ll have the Messy candle.Somewhere between Hope, Love, Peace and Joy we’ll acknowledge this mess of a world, of a life, to which Jesus brought his majesty.

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,”
John 1:14 a the Message

More about Debby Hudson

Where do you find grace? Inside the church walls? Around the dinner table with your family? For years, grace was not much more than the prayer we said before meals or a biblical concept. Then I met a group of men who had, as we say, reached bottom. They welcomed me to Graceland. They showing me grace can be found in the darkest of places. I'm still searching and learning. I hope you'll want to come along.

12 thoughts on “Let’s add the Candle of Mess to our Advent this year

  1. judikruis

    I’m hearing from so many places lately…it’s not about us – it’s about HIM. And not just the “season” but life in this world. The Bible shares a lot of messiness too. Thank you Lord for this pianist, this body of “recovering” men and how You are making all things NEW for all of us! Bless Your Holy Name!!


    1. Debby Hudson

      The bible is FULL of messy, Judi. What a comfort when we finally realize it’s not up to us to clean up but just to show up to Him. Thank you for your sweet prayers xx


      1. judikruis

        You’re so right! He knows how to make the best things out of chaos!


  2. Linda Stoll

    So much love, so much grace right in the midst of all that’s unplanned and unexpected.

    So like Him to meet us exactly where we are.

    Thanks, Debby …


    1. Debby Hudson

      And so much truth, Linda. I love our Christmas celebrations around here. As the Message says, He “moved into the neighborhood”. O Come, O Come Immanuel!


  3. Lux G.

    What a beautiful way to celebrate the start of a wonderful season. Great reminder of what really matters. 🙂


  4. Valerie Sisco at Grace with Silk

    I just love reading about your lovely congregation and your thoughts as they learn or re-learn worship! You are inspiring in the work you do! I can’t help but think that you bringing the practices of Advent to those who haven’t considered it before must be so encouraging and life-changing for them. Loved this post! xoxo


    1. Debby Hudson

      Thanks Valerie. I know God uses them, and you, to continually encourage us. 🙂


  5. hopeful50

    Yes, in the middle of our mess, He came! I’m so glad.


    1. Debby Hudson

      Me too, Susan. And there’s one less pair of messy shoes in our crowd thanks to you and your husband 😉


  6. Joanne Viola (@JViola79)

    I can only say, Amen!” Debby. Thank you for sharing the song because it was the answer I needed for a friend at right this very moment. I love when God works this way! Blessings!


    1. Debby Hudson

      I’m so glad Joanne. God uses music to speak to me so often. God answers before we even ask!


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