Looking Ahead–more advent candle ideas

This week as we continue to look ahead to the fast approaching season of Advent (when did it get to be only 10 days away?) we offer a set of Advent Candle lighting liturgies from the Rev. Elsa Peters, who currently serves the First Congregational Church (UCC) of Portland Maine. This is an interactive candle lighting, with space for conversation amongst the congregation, looking for God’s breaking-in to this world.

Do you have Advent ideas to share, tweaks, comments, thoughts, sparks, or liturgies? Put them in the comments!

First Sunday in Advent: Hope

[Ask worshipers to be seated]

*Introductory Sentences
One: Today we begin the Advent journey in search of hope. We search for hope in the trees and the branches of our own lives. We look for that moment where we might proclaim as the prophet Isaiah did:

*Scripture: Isaiah 64:3
One: When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

*Lighting the Candle
One: O God, we light the first candle of Advent.
We light the candle of hope.

[First Candle is lit.]

We light this candle to illuminate those moments we’ve already seen the mountains quake, as we did… (name a vision of hope you’ve recently seen in your daily life, in your relationships or in the news).

*Unison Prayer
One: Let us pray together:
Light of our World, we hope for change in our own lives and in your world. We wait for war to end. We wait for violence to cease. We wait for your people to live with more love. In the warmth of your Light, we wait for hope to be revealed more fully. We wait together by the light of this candle, praying, Our Father…

~~~~~

Second Sunday in Advent: Peace

[Ask worshipers to be seated]

*Introductory Sentences
One: Today we continue our Advent search. We look for comfort in a broken world. We cry out for the peace we have not yet found. We find comfort as the prophet Isaiah did, when he remembered:

*Scripture: Isaiah 40:8
One: The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.

*Lighting the Candle
One: O God, we light the second candle of Advent.
We light the candle of peace.

[Second Candle is lit.]

We light this candle to shine like the sun on the buds of peace, which we see blooming in… (offer an image of some little hint of peace that you see growing in a friendship that was broken, in a family feud that has eased or in some other illustration you can imagine).

*Unison Prayer
One: Let us pray together:
Light of our World, we hope for change in our own lives and in your world. We wait for relationships to heal. We wait for peace to come. We wait for your people to live with more love. In the warmth of your Light, we wait for hope to be revealed more fully. We wait together by the light of this candle, praying, Our Father…

~~~~~

Third Sunday in Advent: Love

[Ask worshipers to be seated]

*Introductory Sentences
One: Today we stoke the fires of God’s love. We rejoice that love is within is. It is revealed when we bind up the brokenhearted and comfort those who mourn. We hope that love will blossom in the justice we seek, as the prophet Isaiah imagined:

*Scripture: Isaiah 61:11
One: For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

*Lighting the Candle
One: O God, we light the third candle of Advent.
We light the candle of love.

[Third Candle is lit.]

We light this candle to spring up with love. In the light and the warmth of this candle, we hope that love continues to grow in… (Share a brief story about how love has grown in the love that you share.)

*Unison Prayer
One: Let us pray together:
Loving God, pour into our hearts this day the light of your love, warming us to one another, enlightening our understanding of others, and blooming abundantly as only your love can, in Jesus’ name we pray, Our Father…(debts, debtors)

~~~~~

Fourth Sunday in Advent: Joy

[Ask worshipers to be seated]

*Introductory Sentences
One: Today we celebrate joy. Even though we don’t feel ready, we praise God. We celebrate the wonder that something amazing is happening in our lives. We marvel with Mary that this joy turns the whole world upside down:

*Scripture: Luke 1:52-53
One: God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

*Lighting the Candle
One: O God, we light the fourth candle of Advent.
We light the candle of joy.

[Fourth Candle is lit.]

We light this candle with joy for what God is doing. We see the signs of promise in… (Share a brief story about a sign of God’s joy you see in the world right now, perhaps in something that has indeed turned everything upside down..)

*Unison Prayer
One: Let us pray together:
Eternal God, who magnifies each of our souls, help us to pay attention to your signs in these last few days before Christmas. Point us toward your joy. Orient us toward the joy that you offer to us now and always, in Jesus’ name we pray: Our Father…(debts, debtors)

~~~~~

December 24 – Christmas Eve: Christ is Come!

*Introductory Sentences
One: On this Christmas Eve, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. As we wonder what this birth means to us, we recall where we have come on the journey.

*Lighting the Advent Candles
One: We recall our experiences of hope, peace, love and joy. Tonight, we re light the candles that marked our journey.

(Reader pauses as each candle is lit in order.)

The light of hope … (Candle is lit.)
The light of peace … (Candle is lit.)
The light of love … (Candle is lit.)
The light of joy… (Candle is lit.)

On this journey, we have been born into a new hope as the prophet Isaiah recalls:

*Scripture: Isaiah 9:6
One: For a child has been born for us, a child is given to us; authority rests upon this child’s shoulders; which we call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Creator, Prince of Peace.

*Lighting the Christ Candles
One: O God, we light the Christ candle. We light the candle of our Savior.

(Christ candle is lit.)

We light the Christ candle to remember that the miracle of birth didn’t happen just once, but happens every day we choose to see you in our world. God, we see you… (name a time, at Christmas or some other time, when you’ve been able to see God.)

* Unison Prayer
One: Let us pray together:
Holy God, we rejoice in your presence! The birth of your holy child is your answer to our unrest, our confusion and our sorrow. Tonight, we live in Hope, we pray for Peace, we share your Love, as we are filled with your Joy. Now, let us be your Hope, your Peace, your Love and your Joy in this world, as Christ Jesus grew to teach us all: Our Father . . . (debts, debtors)

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looking ahead: advent candles

Often coming up with liturgy for the lighting of the Advent Candle is the most difficult part of preparing for Advent–finding or writing something that connects to the text, the theme, and carries week to week in some way (whether format, theme, language, or tone) can throw even the most organized among us into a procrastinating panic. So, with a few weeks still to go, we’re sharing some Candle liturgies to inspire, borrow, tweak…if you’ve written Advent Candle Lighting liturgy and want to share, please send it to liturgylink at gmail dot com. Thanks! In the comments for today, let’s work on candle liturgies together.

And now, to this week’s submission from Martha Spong, pastor of North Yarmouth Congregational Church in North Yarmouth, Maine.

Advent Wreath Litanies for Year B (all texts Revised Songbird Version, except Christmas Eve, which is NRSV)

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 strenth 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 receive 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 with 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!