Gathering Around the Advent Wreath

Readings for Advent and Christmas 

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 1)

Speaker 1: Lighting a candle in the darkness helps us find our way. In darkness we lose direction. We cannot see where we have been or where we are going. A single candle, flickering brightly, helps us find our way again.

Speaker 2: "Stir up your might, and come to save us. Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved" (Psalm 80:2b-3).

The first candle is lit.

Speaker 3: Light one candle; see it glow
Brightly, so that all may know
How one candle shows the way
Making our darkness bright as God's day.

Speaker 4: Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. All pray: Dear God, on this first Sunday in Advent, let this light shine brightly as the days grow shorter, so that we will be ready for your face to shine upon us at Christmas. In the Savior's name we pray. Amen.

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 2)

Keep awake! Be Ready!
(Based on Matthew 24:36-44)

Leader:

The Son of Man is coming, but about that day and hour no one knows,

People:

Neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Leader:

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

People:

Therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. We light the first candle of Advent to remind us to keep awake and be ready.

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 1)

Speaker 1: Fire burns. It hurts. It can destroy. Fire also gives warmth and light. The coming of Christ is both a day of judgment and a day of promise. Two candles, flickering brightly, help us remember that the coming of Christ has many meanings.

Speaker 2: "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky" (Psalm 85:10-11).

The first two candles are lit.

Speaker 3: Light two candles; see them glow
Brightly, so that all may know
How two candles show the way
Making our darkness bright as God's day.

Speaker 4: Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

All pray: Dear God, we have much to do and we are not sure we will be ready for the day of your coming. In Advent's light, help us to see what is important: to be who you want us to be, and to do what you would have us do. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 2)

Repent! Change your ways, be baptized!
(Based on Matthew 3:1-12)

Leader:

John the Baptist proclaimed, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."

People:

And the people went out to him and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Leader:

And John said, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful that I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals.

People:

He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire." We light the first Advent candle to remind us to keep awake and be ready. (Pause while the first candle is lit.) We light the second Advent candle to remind us to change our ways.

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 1)

Speaker 1: The light glowing from our Advent wreath is burning brighter. This radiance warms our hearts and fills us with joy! The Lord has done great things for us. Let us rejoice.

Speaker 2: "May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves" (Psalm 126:5-6).

The first three candles are lit.

Speaker 3: Light three candles, see them glow
Brightly, so that all may know
How three candles show the way
Making our darkness bright as God's day.

Speaker 4: Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

All pray: Dear God, we carry many burdens and worry over many things. Help us to hear your promise in this Advent season, that in hearing, we may receive the Spirit's gift of joy. And may our spirits be kept sound at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 2)

The blind receive their sight!
(Based on Matthew 11:2-11)

Leader:

John asked Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"

People:

Jesus said, "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear.

Leader:

The dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.

People:

Truly I tell you, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." We light the first Advent candle to remind us to keep awake and be ready. (Pause while the first candle is lit.) The second Advent candle reminds us to changes our ways. (Pause while the second candle is lit.) We light the third Advent candle to remind us of the good news that the blind can see and the lame can walk.

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 1)

Speaker 1: Once God's plan was a mystery, hidden from our sight. Now God has disclosed what was kept secret for so very long; he has brought it out in the light. In the brighter light on this fourth Sunday in Advent, may we see more clearly the glory of God in Christ and sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever.

Speaker 2: "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" (Psalm 89:1b-2).

All four Advent candles are lit.

Speaker 3: Light four candles, see them glow
Brightly, so that all may know
How four candles show the way
Making our darkness bright as God's day.

Speaker 4: I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

All pray: Dear God, your faithfulness has been great, leading us to this day of anticipation and celebration. May the glorious light of your steadfast love shine brightly in us and through us, that all may give you praise and glory. In the Savior's name we pray. Amen.

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (option 2)

God is with us!
(Based on Matthew 1:18-25)

Leader:

When Mary was engaged to Joseph, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

People:

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Leader:

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

People:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us." We light the first candle to remind us to keep awake and be ready. (Pause while the first candle is lit.) The second Advent candle reminds us to change our ways. (Pause while the second candle is lit.) The third Advent candle reminds us of the good news that the blind can see and the lame can walk. (Pause while the third candle is lit.) We light the fourth Advent candle to remind us that God is with us!

CHRISTMAS EVE OR CHRISTMAS DAY (option 1)

The four Advent candles are lit before the service begins.

Speaker 1: The season for watching and waiting is over. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. This is the light of the world, and the darkness cannot extinguish it.

The Christ candle is lit.

Speaker 2: "O sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
"Declare his glory among the nations,
His marvelous works among all the peoples" (Psalm 96:1-3).

Speaker 3: "Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
Bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
Tremble before him, all the earth" (Psalm 96:7-9).

Speaker 4: "Say among the nations, 'The Lord is King!'
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with his truth" (Psalm 96:10a, 11a, 13b).

CHRISTMAS EVE OR CHRISTMAS (option 2)

To you is born a Savior!
(Based on Luke 2:1-14)
(The four candles on the wreath are already lit.)

Leader:

There were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

People:

Then an angel of the Lord stood before the, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Leader:

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord."

People:

Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" We light the Christ candle to remind us that the Savior is born!

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