Updated to include Christmas Eve and an Advent Carol of response.
It’s time for Advent wreath liturgies again. This year I’ve done my utmost to tie the Narrative Lectionary texts to the Advent theme words (hope, peace, joy and love) by choosing short sections of Psalms to come before a responsive reading, followed by lighting the candle for the week. You’ll see the sermon title/weekly theme I’ll be using at the beginning of each week’s liturgy. The phrase repeats in the liturgy itself. I’ve included a suggested hymn to follow each week; they are all from the New Century Hymnal, in use at the UCC church I serve. I’ve also written a thematic carol to use, with weekly verses, which you can find here: Now It’s Time to Light the Candle (REGENT SQUARE or PICARDY). All texts are NRSV.
Permission is granted to use these liturgies and/or the carol; I ask that you leave a comment telling me your church name and location, because I love knowing where they are going.
Advent 1 – The Book of Hope – 2 Kings 22:1-10, [14-20]; 23:1-3
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)
One: Something’s coming.
Many: We’re waiting. We’re eager.
One: It’s more than presents.
Many: It’s more than lights.
One: We open the Book of Hope and read the promise.
Many: God will be with us.
One: Our hearts are glad; we trust God’s holy name.
Many: God’s never-ending love surrounds us.
One: Today we light the candle of Hope.
(Light the first candle.)
All: Our hope is in the Lord.
Suggested Hymn of response – O How Shall I Receive You
Advent 2 – The Promise of Peace – Isaiah 40:1-11
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other. (Psalm 85:8-10)
One: Can you hear it?
Many: What is it?
One: God’s Word is coming.
Many: We’re listening. We’re eager to hear.
One: A voice cries out and declares the Promise of Peace.
Many: We stand in awe.
One: Things are going to even out in the world.
Many: All people will embrace each other.
One: Today we light the candle of Peace.
(Light the second candle.)
All: Our peace comes from God.
Suggested Hymn of response – It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Advent 3 – The House of Joy – Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4; 10-13
O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God. (Psalm 43:3-4)
One: It’s getting closer.
Many: We feel it!
One: The days are shorter, but the lights burn brighter.
Many: We’re listening. We’re eager to hear good news.
One: We’ve gathered together in the House of Joy.
Many: We’re here to praise God with our voices.
One: We’re here to praise God with beautiful music.
Many: We’re here to praise God with all we have.
One: Today we light the candle of Joy.
(Light the third candle.)
All: We worship God with exceeding joy!
Suggested Hymn of response – On Christmas Night All Christians Sing
Advent 4 – The Language of Love – Luke 1:5-13, 57-80
I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’” (Psalm 89:1-4)
One: New life is coming.
Many: We can count it in days now.
One: God is breaking through.
Many: God’s Word will change the world.
One: We will all be changed by the Language of Love.
Many: The covenant has come down through the generations.
One: The love of God is never-ending.
Many: We give thanks for God’s faithfulness.
One: Today we light the candle of Love.
(Light the fourth candle.)
All: We give thanks for God’s steadfast Love.
Suggested Hymn of response – Love Came Down at Christmas
Christmas Eve – The Word Incarnate – John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
One: Every year we light our candles.
Many: We watch the flames flicker with wonder.
One: God’s light is here.
Many: This light is life for all people.
One: The darkness will never overcome it.
(Light the Christ candle.)
All: The Word is with us. Thanks be to God.