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Advent Wreath Prayers (Any Year)

 

Week 1: Hope Candle

Reader: The first candle on the Advent wreath reminds us to think of hope. We hope for many things. We hope to finish what we start. We hope that the sermon is short. We hope for long lives for people we love. We hope that God will save us from hard times and painful lessons. Hope is the shape of our work and our words, while we wait for a future that only God knows.

Light the candle

All: Holy and gracious God, your mercy and constancy are the headwaters of our hope. Our desires for Your promised future flow out of Your past and present faithfulness. We thank you, O God. Our hope is in you. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Week 2: Peace Candle

Reader: The first candle on the Advent wreath was the candle for hope. The second candle reminds us to pray and work for peace. We are also called, through the Holy Spirit, to look for the signs of God’s peace in the world. Peace is not merely the absence of fighting or war. Peace is the restoration of relationships within creation and between peoples and nations to their true order, which bring glory to their Creator.

Light the candle

All: Holy and life-giving God, your Son, our Savior, carries the title “Prince of Peace”. You have called us to imitate Him in thought, word, and deed. Let us seek to be peacemakers in our homes, in the community, and in the world. We thank you, God, for Your peace, which passes all understanding. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Week 3: Joy Candle

Reader: The first candle on the Advent wreath is for hope and the second is for peace. The third candle we light is for joy. Advent is a season of waiting. Even as we wait for the fulfillment of all God’s good plans, we find joy in the work of God all around us. The Spirit calls us to joy in our vocations- paid and unpaid work, relationships, and service. We find joy in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We cherish the joy of Mary and Joseph, of Elizabeth and Zechariah, of the shepherds and the angels, and of the whole creation.

Light the candle

All: Holy and compassionate God, your faithfulness in all things produces the harvest of our joy. We rejoice in You, always. Even in our seasons of doubt and darkness, we can find joy in the presence of Christ in our neighbors and the witness of the Holy Spirit in creation. Stir up our holy joy, that we may share it with all whom we encounter for the sake of Your gospel. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Week 4: Love Candle

Reader: We have lit candles for hope, peace, and joy. The fourth candle on the Advent wreath is for love. In this season of waiting, we are called to remember that God has always so loved the world. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, it was not a new development. Jesus’ birth was in keeping with the Divine self-revelation that has existed since the before the beginning of time. God’s love is for all people, in all places, in all times. God’s love does not end and there is nothing, human or spiritual, that can separate us from that love, poured out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Light the candle.

All: Holy and loving God, Your love is the greatest gift of our lives. It brings us into this world and it meets us in the life of the world to come. May Your love so shape our lives that our daily actions reveal Your light to the world. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Christmas Eve: Christ Candle

Reader: The Advent candles burned brightly, drawing our hearts and minds to hope, peace, joy, and love. Now, at last, on Christmas Eve, we light our Christ Candle. This candle is the center of our celebration, just as Christ has a place at the very center of our lives. Jesus Christ is the anchor of our hope, the bringer of true peace, the source of all joy, and the witness of love between family members, neighbors, friends, and those who were formerly enemies. On this day, and all days, we celebrate the gift of God coming into the world, as one of us, to learn and grow and suffer as one of us. In the same way, even as he lived as a full human being, Jesus was the Christ, God’s anointed, who had the fullness of God within himself- the power to bring life out of death. We celebrate Christ’s birth. We give thanks for Christ’s life and resurrection. We rejoice in Christ’s presence in the world today. We anticipate the promise of Christ’s future, when all will be made new.

Light the Candle

All: God of all glory, this day and all days belong to you. You alone are worthy of our full praise, devotion, and thanksgiving. We, who have so much, dare to ask for one more thing. We humbly ask that you fill our hearts with Christmas grace- the power to restore, to welcome, to celebrate, and to see Christ’s power brought forth in this world. Pour this Christmas grace into our heart and give it substance in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. In Christ’s own name, we pray. Amen. 

Submitted by Rev Julia Seymour, Big Timber Lutheran Church, MT

Dedication: draw us into your kingdom

Faithful God, your promises are sure.
Receive the gifts we present to you
as signs of our hope.
Draw us into your kingdom,
which comes in Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Nathan Williams, Covenant Presbyterian Church, West Des Moines, IA

Confession: other powers

O God, our protector, we take refuge in you;
you alone are the source of all our good.
We seek to be counted among the godly and upright,
but we confess that we have run after other powers,
and we have brought trouble upon ourselves and others.

O Lord, our portion and our cup,
you sustain us and lead us in good and pleasant ways.
We confess that we have trusted in false wisdom
and set our hearts on short-sighted desires.

Forgive us, God our life.
Help us set you always before us,
and sustain us in your righteousness.
Let our hearts be glad, our spirits rejoice,
and our bodies rest in hope,
for you do not abandon us to our sin
or let your chosen ones dwell in the pit.
In Christ you show us the path of life;
you welcome us into the joy of your presence;
you feed us with pleasures forevermore. Amen.

 

Rev. Nathan Williams, Covenant Presbyterian Church, West Des Moines, IA

approach and confession: storyteller

God, you are a storyteller, and you made us in your image. You spoke, and you still speak, through unexpected people, through silence, through your word written and proclaimed through the centuries. We come to hear your story once again, to find our place among your people and within your vision for all creation. We hear You call us to share your story in our words and in our actions, but we confess that more often our lips are sealed. We are afraid to tell your story. We think we don’t know enough, and we are afraid of offending. We prefer to keep you to ourselves.
Yet still Your word, O Lord, is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
Forgive us for letting the book gather dust on the shelf, and the story gather dust in our hearts.
Speak to us, and through us, Lord.
Help us to know you so well that we cannot help but love you, and to love you so much we
cannot help but serve you, sharing your good news in every place, for it is in doing your
will that we find perfect freedom.
We pray in the name of the one who is your Living Word, Jesus the Christ.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, St. John’s Church of Scotland, Gourock, Scotland

POP: help us care

Let us pray to the Lord, saying:
Healing God, help us care for one another.

We recently acknowledged the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.
We pray for our friends and family in Puerto Rico who are still recovering.
We pray for the estimated 2,975 people who lost their lives because of the storm.
We pray for the people of Puerto Rico who have endured the horrors of colonialism.
We pray for our politicians, that they may give Puerto Ricans as much respect and dignity
as they do those of us who live in the states.
Healing God, help us care for one another.

We pray this day for those who are still recovering from Hurricane Florence,
for friends, family, and strangers in the Carolinas and Georgia,
for those whose businesses had to close during the storm and lost revenue,
for those without homes that had no where to run,
and for those in marginalized communities who are more heavily affected by the destruction.
Healing God, help us care for one another.

Today is a day that the Presbyterian Mission Agency encourages congregations such as ours
to pray especially for the gifts of new immigrants.
We acknowledge this day, Gracious God:
that your scripture, time and time again, tells us to treat the foreigner with compassion,
that your son came into this world on the run from a dangerous political regime,
that he was born in a dirty, dusty manger as a marginalized person,
and that this country is not treating immigrants as justly as you call us to.
We give thanks for the gifts that new immigrants bring to this country
and we choose to remind ourselves of the truth that diversity makes us stronger.
Healing God, help us care for one another.

Gracious and Steadfast God,
we pray this day for those who are sick and in need of your care,
for those who are hospitalized,
for those undergoing treatment for cancer and other illnesses,
for those who cry out to you for health and healing.
We pray especially for those we lift up to you in silence…
Healing God, help us care for one another.

Author of our Lives,
hear us now as we pray as you taught us to pray, saying: Our Father…

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY

Illumination: dance in your love

Divine Spirit,
surround us with the wisdom of your word
that we might dance in your love
and be messengers of your truth in this world. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY

confession: at the edge

Lord, you are before and behind us, around us and within. We give you thanks for your constant presence, even as we admit that we don’t always see or hear you with us. So often we find ourselves standing at the edge…of uncertainty, of fear, of society, of faith, of life. We pray for your path to be clear, to show us your way, but we confess that sometimes we see it and we are afraid and turn our eyes back instead. We long for comfort, stability, familiarity. We admit to you that we prefer the easier way of what we have always done, even if it is not where you currently call. Forgive us, O God. Forgive us for our selective memory, our tendency to nostalgia, our hearts set on self-preservation. Turn our eyes forward, to where you are leading. Remind us that you are our God, and will never leave us. Give us faith to see your way, and courage to walk it. Focus our minds, hearts, and strength on your love, that we may know you fully…for to know you is to love you, and to love you is to serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.
It is with faith and hope that we ask these things in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ, whose love casts out all fear and leads us into new life with you. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, St. John’s Church of Scotland, Gourock.

Confession: swallowed up

Call to Confession
God saves us despite us being unworthy of that salvation.
In response to that grace, let us confess the ways we have fallen short.

Confession (Responsive)
God of Endless Mercy,
we have often been swallowed up by our our greed and selfishness,
desiring that which we do not have, filling our lives with things that do not save us.
We have often been swept away by the floods of our own making,
polluting your creation, neglecting to be faithful stewards of the earth.
We have often attacked one another and led lives of violence,
sending missiles instead of accepting refugees, ignoring your commandments.
Lord have mercy, for we have sinned and fallen short of your glory.
Christ have mercy, for we are broken and need your salvation.
Lord have mercy upon us and hear us as we pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
Friends, our help is in the name of the Lord
who has heard our plea and answered our confession with absolution.
In Christ’s name, I announce to you that our sins are forgiven!
Alleluia! Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY

Prayer: stick with us

Saving God,
you are a God who has made it a habit to stick with us through thick and thin.
Thank you for calling us your own
even in moments when we haven’t been the best investment.
Help us, in our worship of you this day,
to be turned in a direction that pleases you. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY

CTW: blessed

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side – let us say together:
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
we would have been swallowed up alive. But such is not the case!
Blessed be the Lord, who is our rock and our redeemer!
Blessed be the Lord, in whose name is our help!
Blessed be the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
Come, let us worship God!

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY