ADVENT WREATH LITURGY FOR 2019

“The apostle Paul wrote to some Christian friends …”

Those of you who belong to churches which follow the liturgical calendar will know that a new liturgical year begins this coming Sunday, as the Season of Advent begins. In many congregations, on the Sundays in Advent, the usual Call to Worship is replaced by a special liturgy for lighting the candles in the Advent wreath (for more about this custom, see: https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/advent-wreath-candles-understanding-the-meaning-history-tradition.html).

Usually, the Advent wreath consists of a large white candle (the Christ Candle) surrounded by four smaller candles: three coloured royal blue (or sometimes purple), and one pink candle for the third Sunday. The coloured candles are lit one by one, Sunday by Sunday. On the first Sunday in Advent, only one blue candle is lit. On the second Sunday, two blue candles are lit. On the third Sunday, two blue candles and one pink one. On the fourth Sunday, all of the smaller candles are given a flame. And on Christmas Eve, the Christ Candle—which has been left dark throughout the season—is finally lit, to announce the birth of Jesus.

For those of you who are looking for an Advent Candle liturgy, I’m including one in this post. The ceremony for Christmas Eve includes the verses of Sandra Dean’s wonderful carol, “A Candle is Burning”—sung to the tune of “Away in a Manger” (http://morningglorybooks.com/Page15.html). This song is found in Voices United (the hymnary of the United Church of Canada) at number six. It may be in other collections, as well. In any case, the lyrics are available by clicking on the “morningglorybooks” link above.

ADVENT 1 ~ DECEMBER 1, 2019

READER ONE: Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to some Christian friends, and he said: “You know what time it is, don’t you? It’s time to wake up! The bright new day is closer now than ever. The night is almost over, and dawn will soon be breaking. So, act like God’s light is shining on you—and remember: you belong to Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

READER TWO: Paul knew that his friends had all kinds of reasons to be hopeful—even when times were dark. That’s true of us, too! Even when the world is scary, we have wonderful, good news: Jesus is coming—and very soon!

READER ONE: Our first Advent candle is the Candle of Hope;

[light one blue candle]

READER TWO: And as we light it, we say:

ALL: Come, Lord Jesus—come quickly!

ADVENT 2 ~ DECEMBER 8, 2019 [one blue candle should already be burning]

READER ONE: Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to some Christian friends, and he said: “God is the one who makes us patient and cheerful—so ask God to help you live at peace with each other. Honour God by accepting each other, just as Christ has accepted you. I pray that God will bless you with complete happiness and peace, because of your faith.”

READER TWO: The advice Paul gave to his friends, he could give to us, too—because sometimes we just can’t seem to get along! Nations, families, friends, neighbors—even church people—we quarrel way too much! Even so, we have good news to tell: Jesus is coming—and he’s bringing his peace with him!

READER ONE: Our second Advent candle is the Candle of Peace;

[light one blue candle]

READER TWO: And as we light it, we say:

ALL: Come, Lord Jesus—come quickly!

ADVENT 3 ~ DECEMBER 15, 2019 [two blue candles should already be burning]

READER ONE: Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to some Christian friends, and he told them they should always be full of joy. He said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul knew that they had all kinds of reasons to be joyful—even when things weren’t going the way they wanted—because God would bless them “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

READER TWO: Paul could say the same thing to us: “Rejoice!” When we are sad—or worried about tomorrow—we should remember that Jesus is coming. And when he gets here, his joy will be in us, and our joy will be complete!

READER ONE: Our third Advent candle is the Candle of Joy;

[light the pink candle]

READER TWO: And as we light it, we say:

ALL: Come, Lord Jesus—come quickly!

ADVENT 4 ~ DECEMBER 22, 2019 [two blue candles and one pink candle should already be burning]

READER ONE: Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to some Christian friends, and he said: “God appointed me to preach the good news that he promised long ago through the prophets. Jesus chose me to carry his message to people everywhere. And the message to you is—God loves you, and has chosen you to be his very own people.”

READER TWO: God’s message today is the same as it was then: We are God’s own beloved children! And here is good news for us: Jesus—who loves us—gives love we can share. And Jesus—who loves us—is on his way here!

READER ONE: Our fourth Advent candle is the Candle of Love;

[light one blue candle]

READER TWO: And as we light it, we say:

ALL: Come, Lord Jesus—come quickly!

CHRISTMAS EVE ~ DECEMBER 24, 2019 [NO candles should already be burning]

READER ONE: Throughout the Sundays in Advent, we have been lighting candles at the beginning of worship, using this Advent Wreath. The four candles at the base of the wreath represent the themes of Advent—hope, peace, joy, and love.

READER TWO: Now, we’re going to light them again, and finally we will light the tall white candle in the centre of the wreath—the Christ Candle—as a sign that our waiting is over. Christ is born. Christmas is here at last!

READER ONE: So, we have five candles to light—and five verses to sing as we do that!

READER TWO: Words to “A Candle is Burning” are found … Please sing gladly!

HYMN: “A Candle is Burning” (Sandra Dean, 1986)

VERSE 1—Light BLUE candle

VERSE 2—Light BLUE candle

VERSE 3—Light PINK candle

VERSE 4—Light BLUE candle

VERSE 5—Light WHITE Christ Candle

_______________________

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THE ADVENT WREATH LITURGY:

ADVENT 1—Romans 13:11-14

ADVENT 2—Romans 15:4-13

ADVENT 3—Philippians 4:4, 19; John 15:11

ADVENT 4—Romans 1:1-6

 

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