Call for Advent candle to remain unlit for peace

29 November 2023

To remember all those who have died in the Israel/Palestine conflict, Methodist churches across the country are being called upon to leave their second Advent candle unlit this year.

The call not to light the candle, which represents peace, on the second Sunday in Advent (10 December) and on subsequent Sundays, follows the news that celebrations to mark Christmas in the Holy Land will be subdued this year.

The Revd David Hardman, Methodist Liaison Officer, Jerusalem, is currently fulfilling his role from the UK and remains in touch with those living in the Middle East.  David explained, “Our Christian colleagues in Bethlehem tell us that this Advent and Christmas the lights that normally adorn the birth place of Jesus will remain unlit in memory of those who have been killed in the current conflict. We are inviting Methodist churches in Britain to leave the second candle of Advent unlit to serve as a reminder that we stand in solidarity with all who are suffering in the Holy Land.”

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Gill Newton, commented, “The events of over 2000 years ago and of now, remind us that sadly, nothing much has changed. We are still caught up in conflict and challenge, fear and uncertainty.  This Advent, to stand with Palestinian Christians, we invite Methodist Churches to leave the Advent candle on the Second Sunday unlit and for it to remain unlit throughout advent.”

“God is still present even in the most difficult places, and in the midst of violent conflict so many people are wishing for and seeking peace!”

Churches who participate are invited to take a photo of their Advent Ring on Christmas Day with the second candle unlit to be shared with local church communities in the Holy Land.

(below updated 30 Nov '23) 

On Christmas Day churches are invited to take a photo of their Advent Ring with the second candle unlit and send it to office@mlojerusalem.org. The staff at the Methodist Liaison Office will forward pictures to local church communities in the Holy Land.

Additional Liturgy
It is suggested that churches that choose to keep their second advent candle unlit can still read the Advent liturgies with a suggested short addition underlining why this ‘peace’ candle will remain unlit.

Second Sunday in Advent
As we prepare ourselves to welcome the birth of the Prince of Peace, we hear that the festive lights that normally shine bright in Bethlehem will not be lit this year in memory of those killed in the recent violence. To stand alongside our sisters and brothers in Christ, and all who mourn this Christmas, we will leave our second Advent candle unlit during Advent and Christmas.

Remaining Advent services
We remind ourselves that this year one candle remains unlit, as the Christmas lights in Bethlehem remain unlit, in memory of those killed in the current conflict in the Holy Land.