Advent Wreath Candlelighting Liturgy
(adapted from The Whole People of God, Logos Publications, Inc.)
The First Sunday of Advent
Reader 1: This is the first Sunday of Advent when we read again of how God's people waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Advent is the season of waiting and preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Reader 2: This time of waiting is also a time for us to be working for peace among the nations, and peace with each other. It is a time for us to change our priorities as we walk in the light that God gives us.
Reader 1: As part of our Advent waiting we celebrate Christ's coming by making an Advent wreath and lighting its candles to remind us of the hope Christ bring to the world. The round shape of the wreath reminds us of the unbroken love of God. The green branches speak of new life, and the candles proclaim the light that came into the world with Jesus Christ.
Reader 2: Today we light the first candle. The flickering of the flame reminds us that our waiting is a time of both contemplation and action. (The candle is lit)
Dear God, through your Spirit you spoke to prophets,
and the people prayed and waited for a Messiah to come.
Through your Spirit you spoke to Mary and Joseph,
and they responded and waited for their child to be born.
Through your Spirit, speak to each of us
that we may feel your presence and know your will
in our Advent waiting this year.
The Second Sunday of Advent
Reader 1: On this second Sunday of Advent we hear stories of the dreams and longings of God's people. The Hebrew people dreamed of a king who would rule with justice and peace. The apostle Paul had a dream that all people would belong to God. John the Baptist invited people to dream with him about the coming of God's reign.
Reader 2: We share these dreams that can lead to life-changing action.
Reader 1: God's people have long dreamed of the coming of peace, justice, and faithfulness to God's ways. In our own time we dream of equality and good life for everyone. Such dreams come from God and inspire us to work for justice and peace.
Reader 2: With John the Baptist we dream of making crooked paths straight, of making smooth highways broad enough for all God's people to move on together in peace and harmony.
Reader1: Our actions can help build that highway. God's dream can become our dream.
Reader 2: Last week we lit the first candle. Its flickering flame reminded us that our waiting is to be both contemplative and active. (The first candle is relit) The flame of the second candle reminds us that just as candles can be given a flame, so God's dreams can become real in our world. (The second candle is lit)
give us the desire,
and the courage
to be part of your dream
for a world made new.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
your dream incarnate. Amen.
The Third Sunday of Advent
Reader 1: On this third Sunday of Advent we join with the writers of Scripture to sing of hope and healing. With our hearts we praise the Lord, and we are glad because of God our Savior.
Reader 2: Healing takes many forms. People are healed from diseases, social and political injustice are corrected, even the earth itself can be restored to support new life.
Reader 1: Elizabeth recognized that Mary would give birth to a child who would save his people, and Mary sang a song of praise to God. But her song is not a lullaby to soothe people to sleep. Her song is a strong declaration of God's greatness.
Reader 2: God's greatness was shown in Christ and is still active in the world. The child of Mary brought a message of healing that continues as we follow Christ's words and actions.
Reader 1: Today we relight the first and second candles on our Advent wreath. (The first and second candles are relit) The light of these burning candles reminds us that our waiting and dreaming can make a positive difference in our world.
Readers 2: God's desire is for healing and reconciliation. The flame of this third candle reminds that God calls us to be part of the healing of the world
so many people need your healing and hope.
In this season of giving, and on every day of the year,
help us to say and to do those things
that continue Christ's ministry of compassion and caring.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Reader 1: Through the prophets, God promised a Messiah. In a dream, God promised Joseph that Mary "will have a son, and you will name him Jesus -- because he will save his people." God's promises have been kept.
Reader 2: The birth of a child is a sign that life will carry on. It was through the birth of a weak and vulnerable human baby that God has most closely identified with each of us. The mighty God has become Emmanuel, "God with us." This was astounding news, then, at that first Christmas. It is astounding news now. Christmas is about God, with us.
Reader 1: In the birth of Jesus, God's promise of hope and healing is made in a new and wonderful way. We remember, though, that strength and determination are necessary in fulfulling any promise. Joseph and Mary showed great courage as they responded to God's call.
Reader 2: We relight the Advent candles of waiting, dreaming, and healing. Their flames remind us that God is active in our lives and in the world around us. (The candles are relit)
Reader 1: God promised to love and care for all that God created. The rainbow is one sign of this promise; the birth of Jesus is another wonderful sign that God has not left us on our own. The flame of this fourth candle gives us courage for our daily living by reminding us of the promise of Emmanuel -- God is with us. (The fourth candle is lit)
we thank you that you have fulfilled your promise.
Emmanuel has come.
We rejoice in your faithfulness.
Give us courage to respond
with love and compassion.
Reader 1: Advent has been a time of waiting, dreaming, healing, and promise. Our time of preparation is over and we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Reader 2: Each week during Advent we lit another candle on our wreath, and each week the candles glowed and the light shone more brightly (The Advent wreath candles are relit)
Reader 1: We have read Bible verses that have spoken to us of God's faithfulness and of the hope and dreams of God's people through the ages. The people waited and dreamed for a Messiah who would bring healing and peace. God's promise was kept. The Savior has come.
Reader 2: God's love has been shown in a most wonderful way: a child has been born. We know him as Emmanuel -- God with us; we know him as Jesus -- the one who saves; we know him as the fullest expression of God's love for us.
Reader 1: Today we light the Candle of Christ, the candle which reminds us of Jesus. It is the center of this wreath, just as Jesus is the center of our lives. The light of Christ shines for all to see. (The Candle of Christ is lit)
you have given us a time of preparation
to receive again your gift of love and joy
and hope and healing.
In the birth of the child, Jesus,
you have given new life to each of us.
May we experience the presence of Emmanuel,
God with us,
this day, and always.