Lighting of the Advent Candles

God’s Promises Fulfilled in Christ

  • Week 1 – The Promise of Peace
    Isaiah 65:17-25
  • Week 2 – The Promise of Healing and Forgiveness
    Isaiah 53:3-6
  • Week 3 – The Promise of Victory over Death
    Isaiah 25:6-9
  • Week 4 – The Promise an Eternal King
    Isaiah 9:6-7
  • Christmas Eve
    John 1:1-5,9-14

We will be lighting the first candle in our Advent Wreath this Sunday. I’m frequently asked, “What do the Advent candles mean?” Well, they mean whatever we want them to mean. You’ll find that every Advent ritual is different. The candles and the wreath seem to be the only constant – more or less. Even the colors of the candles sometimes vary. The following text, then, is ONE way of approaching the advent candle lighting ceremony in worship each week.

Advent includes four Sundays before Christmas. The Advent wreath is a circle of greenery with three purple candles and one pink candle on the perimeter, and one white Christ candle in the center. We light one new candle (in addition to the candles from the previous week) each Sunday during Advent, with the pink candle being lit on the last Sunday before Christmas. In this case, pink symbolizes “almost here” in the movement from purple to white.

Our Advent theme is “God’s Promises Fulfilled in Christ.” The liturgy includes one reading from the prophet Isaiah each week. The first three weekly themes correspond to the Eucharistic acclamation, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again,” but not in that order. We put “Christ will come again” in the first week, which traditionally focuses more on Christ’s second coming than on his birth.

One family (or group) from the congregation lights the candles on the Advent Wreath at the beginning of the worship service, taking the place of our opening sentences, readings and prayers. The Advent Wreath ritual for each Sunday in Advent follows below the fold.

On Christmas Eve, we light the four Advent candles again at the beginning of the service, and then light the Christ candle at the center of the wreath later in the service. The lighting of the Christ candle signifies the coming of Christmas since we don’t have a separate service on Christmas day.

The First Sunday of Advent

The Promise of Peace

VOICE – Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means “coming” and in this season we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. One of the ways we prepare for his coming is by making an Advent wreath and lighting its candles to remind us of God’s promises that come true in Jesus who was born in Bethlehem.

VOICE – The Advent Wreath has four candles in a circle, with one larger white candle in the center. We will light one new candle every Sunday between now and Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we will light the Christ Candle which is in the middle of the wreath.

VOICE – Today we light the first candle, the Candle of Peace. God created this world to be a good place to live, but now it is filled with sadness and hardship. Despite our sins, God promised the people of Israel that He would someday restore the joy of living in His good creation.

READ – Isaiah 65:17-25

VOICE – We light this first candle to remember that God gave us Jesus Christ and opened the door for us to his promised world of joy and peace. When Jesus was born, the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward people with whom he is well pleased.”

(LIGHT ONE PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – Let us pray: Thank you God for the peace you give us. We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your peace with each other. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and who will come again in glory. Amen.

The Second Sunday of Advent

The Promise of Healing and Forgiveness

VOICE – Last Sunday we lit the first candle in our Advent Wreath, the Candle of Peace. We light it again this morning as we remember that the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem will come again to fulfill God’s promise of peace.

(LIGHT ONE PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – The second candle of Advent is the Candle of Healing and Forgiveness. Our world is broken by sin. God promised to send one who would mend our broken hearts, make our lives whole and to set us free from our sins.

READ – Isaiah 53:3-6

VOICE – We light this second candle to remember that God gave us Jesus Christ to set us free from sin and make us whole. The angel told Joseph, “You will give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”

(LIGHT A SECOND PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – Let us pray: Thank you God for the forgiveness and healing you give us in Jesus. We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by turning from our sins and forgiving others as you have forgiven us. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and gave his life for us. Amen.

The Third Sunday of Advent

The Promise of Victory over Death

VOICE – Last Sunday we lit two candles in our Advent Wreath: the Candle of Peace and the Candle of Healing and Forgiveness. We light them again this morning as we remember that the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem will come again to fulfill God’s promise of peace. He forgives our sins.

(LIGHT TWO PURPLE CANDLES)

VOICE – The third candle of Advent is the Candle of Victory over Death. The people of this world grieve and suffer because of death, injury and disease. In His love, God promised to wipe the tears from every eye and destroy death forever.

READ – Isaiah 25:6-9

VOICE – We light this third candle to remember that in Jesus Christ, the power of life was stronger than the power of death. The Gospel of John begins by telling us, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

(LIGHT THE THIRD PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – Let us pray: Thank you God for the confidence you give us in your victory over death. We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by trusting you in every circumstance. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and triumphed over the grave. Amen.

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

The Promise an Eternal King

VOICE – Last Sunday we lit three candles in our Advent Wreath: the Candle of Peace, the Candle of Healing and Forgiveness and the Candle of Victory over Death. We light them again as we remember that the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem will come again to fulfill God’s promises of peace. He forgives our sins and gives us eternal life.

(LIGHT THE THREE PURPLE CANDLES)

VOICE – The fourth and final candle of Advent is the Candle of the Eternal King. The people hoped for a holy and righteous leader – a descendant of King David – to rule over them and deliver them as God had promised.

READ – Isaiah 9:6-7

VOICE – Our final candle is pink, not purple. The fulfillment of God’s promise is at hand. Our darkness is turning to joy.

VOICE – We light this fourth candle to remember that the baby born in Bethlehem is also the promised King of all eternity. The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

(LIGHT THE PINK CANDLE)

VOICE – Let us pray: Thank you God for your faithfulness to promises that you made long ago. We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by obeying our heavenly king. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and who reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Christmas Eve

At the beginning of the service:

VOICE – On each of the last four Sundays, we have recalled one of the promises God made to us through the prophet Isaiah, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

VOICE – The promise of a coming time of peace and joy for all.
(LIGHT ONE PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – The promise of forgiveness of sins and healing for our world.
(LIGHT ONE PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – The promise of victory over death and destruction.
(LIGHT ONE PURPLE CANDLE)

VOICE – The promise of a righteous king who would reign forever.
(LIGHT THE PINK CANDLE).

VOICE – I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

ALL – With gladness, we welcome Christ into our world and into our lives. With joy, we receive the blessings he brings.

VOICE – Let us pray: Thank you God for your faithfulness to promises that you made long ago. You loved the world so much that you gave us your son to save us and reign over us. Help us tonight to worship you, to hear your word in faith, and to do your will by obeying our heavenly king. We ask this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and who reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Toward the conclusion of the service:

READ – John 1:1-5,9-14

(Light the Christ Candle)

PRAYER – Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of your true light. Grant that we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence, and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

(Traditional Collect for Christmas Eve)

Advertisements