Advent Wreath, Narrative Lectionary

Advent Wreath Liturgies, Narrative Lectionary Year 1

Advent 1 – Hope (Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:2-4; 3:17-19)

One: People of God, prophets like Habbakuk pointed to a future hope, a Savior.
Many: No one knew when he would come.
One: They only hoped they would recognize the Messiah, the Son of God.
Many: We wait with hope for the One who has come and is coming.
One: Today we light a candle to symbolize our hope. We hope in the One who will come.
(Light the candle of Hope.)
One: People of God, a New Hope is coming.
All: We will rejoice in the Lord.

Advent 2 – Peace (Esther 4:1-17)

One: People of God, Esther was a heroic woman who took a great risk to bring peace for her people. .
Many: We want peace to overcome struggle, violence, and cruelty.
One: It can be dangerous to call for peace.
Many: This might be the job God needs us to do.
One: Today we light a candle to symbolize God’s peace. We hope in the One who will come. We pray for God’s peace to prevail.
(Light the candles of Hope and Peace.)
One: People of God, take courage.
All: We take courage from the light of God’s peace.

Advent 3 – Joy (Isaiah 42:1-9)

One: People of God, Isaiah promised a servant God who would come to save us.
Many: The Savior will be a light to the nations.
One: People everywhere are eager for the justice he will teach and the joy he will bring.
Many: We will see prison doors opened and people set free.
One: Today we light a candle to symbolize the joy we anticipate. We hope in the One who will come. We pray for God’s peace to prevail. Our joy will come with God’s servant.
(Light the candles of Hope, Peace and Joy.)
One: People of God, great change lies ahead.
Many: We wait to see it with joy!

Advent 4 – Love (Matthew 1:18-25)

One: People of God, today we hear the story of an angel appearing in a dream.
Many: Joseph was a righteous man who heard God’s messenger.
One: Because of his deep faith, he trusted in God’s steadfast love.
Many: When we know God’s love, we can extend it to others.
One: Today we light a candle to symbolize the steadfast love of God. We hope in the One who will come. We pray for God’s peace to prevail. Our joy will come with God’s servant. God’s love never ends.
(Light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.)
One: People of God, remember you are God’s beloved children.
Many: We celebrate God’s steadfast love!

Christmas Eve – Christ Candle (Luke 2:1-14, [15-20])

One: People of God, when the angels appeared, the shepherds were terrified.
Many: We will not fear, for this is the night of Good News!
One: We celebrate the good news of a baby, born in a stable.
Many: Tonight we light a candle to mark his birth.
One: We hope in the one who has come, Jesus Christ.
(Light the Candle of Hope.)
We pray for God’s peace to prevail.
(Light the Candle of Peace)
Our joy comes with God’s servant.
(Light the candle of Joy)
God’s love never ends.
(Light the candle of Love)
Born as one of us, Jesus became God’s living Word of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
(Light the Christ Candle)
Do not be afraid! The Good News is here!
All: Glory to God in the Highest!

Looking for a carol of response? Now It’s Time to Light the Candle includes Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love.

Liturgies (2014) and carol (2015) are copyrighted by the Rev. Martha K. Spong. You are welcome to use these liturgies, based on the Narrative Lectionary Year 1, in weekly worship at your local church. You are also free to adapt them to your circumstances (using multiple readers, for instance). Please leave a comment to let me know where they will be used. This does not constitute permission to publish the readings as a set or to claim credit for them online or in print. Thank you, as always, to Working Preacher, for inventing and refining the Narrative Lectionary.

Advent, Advent Wreath, Liturgy

Advent Wreath Lighting – Narrative Lectionary, Year 3

danielNovember 27 – First Sunday of Advent (Daniel 6:6-27)

One: Sometime we pray, facing an unknown fate.
Many: Sometimes we pray, facing an uncertain world.
One: Although he would soon be thrown to the lions, Daniel trusted in God.
Many: We hold that hope.
One: When life takes us to the dangerous edge, we face our own lions.
Many: We stay awake through the night, trying to tame depression, debt, job loss, addiction, broken relationships.
One: We draw our hope from God.
Many: And at dawn, the light comes again.
(Light the first candle.)
One: “God is rescuer and savior; God performs signs and miracles in heaven and on earth.” (Daniel 6:27a, CEB)
Many: Our living God gives hope.

December 4 –  Second Sunday of Advent (Joel 2:12-13, 28-29)

One: In a torn world, we wonder how to act with compassion.
Many: In our own lives, we wonder where to find harmony.
One: Even when we don’t agree on the details, we want the same thing.
Many: We all want peace.
One: Like people in exile, we feel displaced.
Many: We try to find our way in a world where we cannot find our familiar landmarks, forgetting to look to God first.
One: Without God, there is no peace.
Many: Even now, we can return to God.
(Light the first and second candles.)
One: “Return to the Lord your God, for God is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” (Joel 2:13b, CEB))
Many: Our forgiving God brings peace.

December 11 –  Third Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 61:1-11)

One: In this season of gift-buying, it’s easy to confuse possessions with happiness.
Many: Sometimes we choose the material when we need the mystical.
One: Sometimes we hesitate to really feel it; we’re bound up in other worries.
Many: We could all use some joy.
One: We have turned avoidance into a kind of exile.
Many: Now it’s time to come together again, to bind up broken hearts together.
One: Get ready for good news of great joy.
Many: Let us celebrate God’s goodness.
(Light the first, second, and third candles.)
One: “I surely rejoice in the Lord; my heart is joyful because of my God.” (Isaiah 61:10a, CEB)
Many: Our loving God promises everlasting joy.

December 18 –  Fourth Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:26-49)

One: There are many kinds of love in this world:
Many: Between parents and children, with extended family, for friends we have known all our lives,
One: romance pressured by the season, and the selfless kindness of strangers.
Many: We’re all looking for love.
One: The angel called on Mary to bring God-with-us into the world, to love and nurture Jesus.
Many: The conversation started with, “Do not be afraid!”
One: O, make us brave to say it!
Many: Love requires courage.
(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles.)
One: “Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.” (Luke 1:45, CEB)
Many: Our in-breaking God is love.

December 24 – Christmas Eve (Luke 2:1-14 and Psalm 96)

One: Our living God gives hope. (Light the first candle.)
Many: Our forgiving God brings peace. (Light the second candle.)
One: Our loving God promises everlasting joy. (Light the third candle.)
Many: Our in-breaking God is love. (Light the fourth candle.)
One: Now our waiting comes to an end.
Many: The time for rejoicing is here!
One: Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Many: We will sing to the Lord! We will bless God’s holy name!
(Light the Christ candle.)
One: “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.” (Luke 2:10, CEB)
Many: Jesus Christ is born!


You are welcome to use these liturgies in weekly worship at your local church. Looking for a carol of response? Now It’s Time to Light the Candle includes Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love. These liturgies were created, and are copyrighted, by the Rev. Martha K. Spong, 2016, adapted from the Common English Bible. You are also free to modify them to your circumstances (using multiple or single readers, for instance). Please leave a comment to let me know where they will be used. You are also welcome to share the blog links. You will find readings to go with Revised Common Lectionary Year A here.

This does not constitute permission to publish the readings as a set or to claim credit for them online or in print. 

Advent, Advent Wreath, Liturgy

Advent Wreath Lighting – Revised Common Lectionary, Year A

Lighting the Candle of Hope        Advent 1A           November 27, 2016

candleReader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it…He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Reader Two: Our hope is in God, who will bring all nations together.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candle of Hope.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 1 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)


Lighting the Candle of Peace       Advent 2A           December 4, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Reader Two: Our peace comes from God, who became one of us in Jesus.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope and Peace.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 2 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)


Lighting the Candle of Joy            Advent 3A           December 11, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.”

Reader Two: In God’s time of joy, all sorrow and sighing will leave us.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 3 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)


Lighting the Candle of Love         Advent 4A           December 18, 2010

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Reader Two: In God’s time of love, we will learn to choose what is good.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 4 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)


Lighting the Christ Candle             Christmas Eve Year A      December 24, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Reader Two: “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

Reader One: Tonight we stand on the brink of God’s time.  Faithfully, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

Reader Two: Tonight we enter God’s time. Faithfully, we light the Christ Candle, to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the Light coming into the world.

All: Come, let us walk with the Light of the LORD!

(Respond with a carol, such as “Angels From the Realms of Glory.”)

Advent, Advent Wreath, Narrative Lectionary

Advent Wreath Liturgies for Narrative Lectionary Year 2

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 Advent-Wreath-Joythrough 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.

Advent, Advent Wreath, Narrative Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary

Advent Wreath Liturgies for 2014 (NL Year 1 and RCL Year B)

Advent Wreath Lighting for Year B

LOOKING FOR NARRATIVE LECTIONARY YEAR 2? CLICK HERE.

Here are two quick links to Advent Wreath liturgies tied to this year’s lectionary readings.

Narrative Lectionary Year 1

Revised Common Lectionary Year B

You are welcome to use these liturgies in weekly worship at your local church. These liturgies were created, and are copyrighted, by the Rev. Martha K. Spong, (NL 2014, RCL 2011).  You are also free to adapt them to your circumstances (using multiple or single readers, for instance). Please leave a comment to let me know where they will be used. You are also welcome to share the blog links.

This does not constitute permission to publish the readings as a set or to claim credit for them online or in print. 

Advent, Advent Wreath

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. 

Advent, Advent Wreath, Revised Songbird Version, Study Leave

Advent Wreath Lighting for Year B

The same pic I use every year.

At the end of Day 2 of Study Leave, I offer up these Advent Wreath Litanies for Year B (all texts Revised Songbird Version*, except Christmas Eve, which is NRSV). You are welcome to use them! Just let me know in the comments. If you are using the Narrative Lectionary, you will find Advent wreath liturgies for Year 1 here.

Advent 1B (based on Isaiah 64:1-4)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet cried out to God, I wish you would open the heavens that separate us and come down, making the mountains quake because you are here. Make your name known to all who are against you. Make the nations tremble because of your presence.
Reader Two: You came before and did awesome deeds that we did not expect; you made our world shake at the sight of you. In all the history of the world, no ears have heard and no eyes have seen any God other than you.
Reader One: You work for those who wait for you.
Reader Two: We wait and hope, as we light this candle.
(Please pause as we light one candle, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 2B (based on Isaiah 40:1-2, 9-11)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet reassured the people, God is sending words of comfort to you, speaking tenderly to you. God promises that your hard labor is over, your sentence has been served and your penalty has been paid. You are forgiven not once but double all that is needed.
Reader Two: Go up to a high mountain, and call out the good news! Lift your voices up with strength and call out the good news! Do not be afraid! Your God is coming.
Reader One: Our God is mighty, but our God is also gentle. God loves the flock and will feed it just the way a shepherd would, holding us close like lambs and guiding us, old and young.
Reader Two: We wait for God’s peace and live in God’s hope as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light two candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 3B (based on Isaiah 61:1-4)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet announced it. The Spirit of God is with me, because I have been chosen to bring good news to the abused, to bandage the wounds of the heartbroken, and to release those who are in prisons of all kinds. I am here to proclaim a good year in God’s sight, a time when things will be set right.
Reader Two: I am here to comfort the grieving and to dress them for happy times instead of sad ones.
Reader One: The people who are healed and comforted will be like strong trees, upright and loyal to God. They will be like a forest planted to show God’s glory. They will rebuild the world and show everyone God’s power.
Reader Two: We wait for the day of God’s joy, and live in God’s peace and hope, as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light three candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 4B (based on Psalm 89:19-23)

Reader One: The Psalmist received a vision from God, who said, I have put a crown on the head of a new king, a mighty one chosen and anointed with oil.
Reader Two: My hand will always be with him; my arm will strengthen him.
Reader One: My faithfulness and steadfast love will be with the one I’ve chosen.
Reader Two: We wait for God’s love coming to us. The day of God’s joy is soon coming. We live in God’s peace and hope as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light four candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Christmas Eve Year B (based on Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)

Reader One: Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Reader Two: “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
Reader One: We stand on the brink of God’s time and light again the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Reader Two: We light the Christ Candle to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the light coming into the world.
(Please pause as we light the candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

*And by Revised Songbird Version, I mean I’m reading the New Revised Standard Version and playing around with it to get phrases we will understand easily when we only get to read them once and in a hurry on Sunday morning.