Advent Wreath Liturgies, Narrative Lectionary Year 4

image(Looking for Narrative Lectionary Year 1 liturgies for the Advent Wreath? Click here.)

I’m worshiping in a congregation following the Narrative Lectionary and created these liturgies for the church’s use. I am happy to share them if you leave a comment and let me know where you are. (If you are looking for RCL Year A, click here!)

Advent 1 – Hope (Daniel 3:1, 8-30)

Leader: The poet, Emily Dickinson, wrote:
“Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul.”
The psalmist declared:
“I put my hope in You all day long.”
Hope is more than wishful thinking. Hope is the Spirit of God dwelling within us, reminding us we are never alone. Hope is our active commitment to be God’s faithful people, whether we walk an easy path or face fiery trials.
When we light the candle of Hope, we embrace God’s presence among us, yesterday and today and always.
People: Whatever we face in life, we will put our hope in God.

Advent 2 – Peace (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Leader: The poet, Wendell Berry, wrote:
“When despair for the world grows in me…
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.”
We think of the 23rd Psalm,
“He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”
When everything feels hopeless, when we feel as dead as the dry bones in Ezekiel’s valley, God calls us away from the workaday world. God calls us to breathe in the holy breath of peace.
When we light the candle of Peace, we breathe in the One who restores us.
People: Whatever we face in life, God’s Spirit of peace will dwell within us.

Advent 3 – Joy (Isaiah 55:1-11)

Leader: The poet, Mary Oliver, wrote:
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it…life has some possibility left…Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
It seemed impossible, but the Israelites returned to their home from exile in Babylon. The prophet Isaiah offered a song of celebration. Come and rejoice! Eat and drink! Get your priorities in order! Can’t you see that God is close by? The people rejoiced, amazed to have a second chance. The end of the story has yet to be written.
When we light the candle of Joy, we celebrate the One who has come, is coming and will come again.
People: Whatever we face in life, God will make joy possible.

Advent 4 – Love (John 1:1-18, Psalm 130:5-8)

Leader: The poet, George Herbert, wrote:
“Love bade me welcome, but my soul drew back.”
It’s hard to take in the enormity of God’s love made flesh in Jesus Christ. We look at the candles and enjoy the special music of the season. It’s easier to listen to the radio or buy the red cup at the coffee shop than to dwell on the truth.
The psalmist knew it long before Jesus:
“For with The Lord, there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”
God became one of us, out of love for all of us, then and now and forever.
When we light the candle of Love, we stop in awe of God’s unending love.
People: Whatever we face in life, God’s steadfast love surrounds us.

Christmas Eve – Christ Candle (Luke 2:1-14; Psalm 96:7-10)

Leader: The poet, Ann Weems, wrote:

“What I’d really like to give you for Christmas is a star…/Brilliance in a package,/something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans/or in the pocket of your being.”

We’ve come tonight for the light, for the shining candles and the smiles on young faces and the brilliance of tears on a neighbor’s cheek. But remember the words of the psalmist:

“Give to the Lord, all families of the nations—
give to the Lord glory and power!
Give to the Lord the glory due his name!
Bring gifts!
Enter his courtyards!
Bow down to the Lord in his holy splendor!
Tremble before him, all the earth!”

On this Christmas Eve, we tremble at the wonder we remember together: God entered our world in the body of a poor child, born on a dark night in a chilly stable, with only a manger for his bed. God entered the world and took on human form to show us how to live in hope, peace, joy and love. (Light previous candles.)

When we light the Christ candle, we remember the star above the stable. We celebrate the light coming into the darkness.

People: Glory to God in the highest! We give thanks for the brilliance of stars! We give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ, God with us. 

108 thoughts on “Advent Wreath Liturgies, Narrative Lectionary Year 4

  1. Martha, we are doing Advent for THE VERY FIRST TIME as a church. That’s probably hard to believe…but it’s true. We are excited!

    I have been looking for something that “felt” appropriate for our congregation. This is it. I’d love to use these; we’re in Powhatan, Virginia, at a non-denominational-sort-of-Baptist-young-contemporary-Jesus-loving church.🙂

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  2. Pastor Tim Christensen

    See, Martha? This is what happens when you give a well thought-out gift to the church: the church takes the gift and runs with it like a child playing with a new favorite toy. Thank you, and we too will be using these at Gold Hill Evangelical Lutheran Church in Butte, Montana.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing these! I haven’t been feeling very creative and was starting to panic about this — thank you for staving off the attack. The people of Christ the King, Vestal, NY thank you too!

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  4. JR Haugen

    Thank you so much! My church is celebrating Advent without a called pastor again this year, and your words will definitely help us with our own waiting. Flandreau, SD

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  5. Jenny

    I am using these in a United Reformed Church in the UK. Love the fact that poetry and Scripture combine and the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are used. Thank you.

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  6. Megan

    If I can convince the Directing Pastor to use this, Gibson City, IL will be lift our voices and praises to God with these liturgies as well! Thank you!

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  7. Pingback: The Advent Emergency! | RevGalBlogPals

  8. David Eppelsheimer

    Thank you Martha! As you can tell by the date of this post, I am a little behind in my Advent planning. We use the Narrative Lectionary. I was so happy to run across this in my Google search tonight. We will definitely use this resource. I serve Community of ChristChurch, an ELCA congregation in Hillsboro, OR. Thanks!

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  9. RevKel

    These are beautiful. I love the use of poetry and the scriptures. I love your writing. May we use these in our worship services at my church (Memorial United Presbyterian, Xenia, Ohio)? I will credit you, my dear Martha, in the Bulletin Resource reference at the end of the bulletin. Thank you. I am excited!

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  10. Amy Lincoln

    Hi Martha, I am focusing on the Isaiah passages for Advent this year at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Long Valley, NJ, and these reflections will work beautifully as we light our Advent wreath. Thanks for sharing! Peace, Amy Lincoln (took Gk and went to PTS with kzj)🙂

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    1. Beverly Anderson

      Thank you Martha for sharing your thoughtful poetry resources perfectly placed within Advent worship.They will be a part of worship at the UCC churches in Killington and Bridgewater Vermont.

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  11. Martha – you have blessed me/us with these Advent words and poems! We are in Amherst, MA, and especially appreciative to see Emily Dickinson represented here – thank you. I have been using poetry for our Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols service for the last few years, and am so grateful to have these poetic reflections lead us toward the light. Thank you! Caroline

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  12. Jennifer Rygg

    Thanks! We were wondering how we were going to fit Advent in with the narrative lectionary, and this will be very helpful. We are at First Baptist Pendleton in South Carolina.

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  13. Rev. Patty Kogut

    Thank you sooooo much! I love the liturgies and we will be enjoying them at North Congregational Church UCC in Middleboro MA!! Thanks Rev. Patty Kogut

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  14. Rev. Jamie Risser

    I appreciate the interweaving of poetry and scripture. I will be using these readings in the congregation I serve in Herndon, VA. Thank you!

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  15. Debbie Brill

    Hello Martha;
    Thank you so much for this beautiful gift using poetry and the sacred texts. We will be using them in Elk Island Pastoral Charge. We are a multi point charge, congregations from the United Church of Canada. And so on behalf of the people from Lamont, Andrew, Partridge Hill and Uwin, Alberta Canada we say “Thank You.”

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  16. Hi, Martha, you Pennsylvania pastoral person!
    You’re missed in Maine! Thanks for these, they are beautifully written and evoke wonderful images… in Alfred, Maine.
    Thanksgiving blessings, and for Christmas and Advent, too.
    Bruce B.

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  17. Jenell

    Incorporating poetry into the readings will provide our ecumenical advent service with another way of approaching this time of reflecting and waiting.

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  18. Judy

    How awesome to know that congregations across this country will be blessed by the fruits of your labor Martha as we all begin to focus on the Advent message of Hope,Peace, Joy and Love in this world of turmoil and doubt. God Bless.

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  19. Larry Anderson

    Martha,
    Thank you for this wonderful gift! As I read your offering, my spine tingled with delight! Your work is nothing short of an answer to prayer.

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      1. Larry Anderson

        St. John’s & St. Peter’s Lutheran Parish, Saginaw, MN (that would be St. John’s, Saginaw and St. Peter’s, Canyon). I used this resource this morning and people were delighted. They said it was especially good to have the advent wreath connected to the rest of the service. Thank you, again!

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  20. ink

    Our family is doing an advent wreath for the first time this year. I needed more info about the candles and what they represent and found this! I am thrilled to have this to share with my children. Thank you for sharing! We are in Charleston, SC.

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  21. Bre Johnson

    Thank you Martha for your shared gift of writing, reflecting, and creativity. We are using these at Zion Lutheran Church in Moran, MI. (In the middle of the snow in the Upper Penninsula!) God’s peace to you and yours.

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  22. Pingback: 1 like

    1. Hi, Laurie~
      I tried to use excerpts that are short enough to fall under Fair Use guidelines, but that can be tough to measure with poetry as opposed to prose. The poetry guideline has been given in some places as two lines. If you are concerned, I would recommend shortening the Wendell Berry and Ann Weems quotes, although the poems they come from are all over the Internet in full.
      For instance, for Berry:
      “When despair for the world grows in me…
      I come into the peace of wild things…”
      or
      “When despair for the world grows in me…
      I come into the presence of still water.”
      And for Weems you could use simply the first line.
      I hope this helps.

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      1. Thank you so much! I did look up public domain and 3/5 were there. I liked the use of poetry and scripture. Thanks again! always looking for new ideas. Laurie from Western New York

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  23. Christine Hossack

    I was searching for Advent Ideas for my pastoral charge in southwestern Ontario, Canada. I really like the weaving of poets and scripture. Thanks!

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  24. These are fantastic, Martha. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us. I have quoted all of these poets a number of times, but never thought of using their material as part of the Advent celebration. Excellent. Grazi!

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  25. Christina Williams

    Hi Martha,

    This is Advent Wreath Liturgy based on the Narrative Lectionary is perfect for my UCC/UU church, First Parish Church United in Westford, MA. I appreciate the combination of poetry and scripture. I would like to use it this year for our Advent Candle lighting.

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  26. gene godfrey, pastor

    November 28 at 4:30 pm
    I love your creativity in the readings. Thank you. These will be great for us. We are an American Baptist church in Sullivan, Illinois. Blessings to you and your ministries.

    Like

  27. Karen McCune

    Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Indianapolis, IN Thank you for sharing and allowing the use of these Advent liturgies – every year we hold a women’s fellowship, Advent by Candlelight and although we follow the RCL, I have incorporated your Narrative Lectionary Year 4 into this year’s program – Joyous Light. I truly have loved the comments from the many Christian denominations across this country who have used your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Valorie Putt

    We used your Advent Wreath Liturgies last year and they were well received. American Lutheran (ELCA) in Chinook, MT will use your beautiful liturgy for year 4 of the Narrative Lectionary this year. Thank you!

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  29. Martha, Thank you! I also love the poets and the tie in with Narrative Lectionary Year 4 (I’m off the schedule obviously. I’ll be using these at Rockville United Methodist Church in Rockville, Maryland. Peace be with you, Martha Meredith

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: Advent Resources! – the berg blog

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