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Advent Candles: God-With-Us

Week 1
(Ezekiel 34)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of hope,
that we might better see our Good Shepherd,
our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel, verse 1 and “Wisdom”

 

Week 2
(Isaiah 42.1-9, 56.1-8)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of peace,
that we might better see the good reason we are called
by our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel verse 1 and “Desire of Nations”

 

Week 3
(Jeremiah 31.1-25)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of joy,
that we might better see the way to good relationship
with our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel verse 1 and “Key of David”

 

Week 4
(Matthew 1.18-25)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of love,
that we might better see the good news
of our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel, verse 1 and “Dayspring”

 

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

** “with-us God who sits down in our mids to share our humanity” is from an affirmation in the Iona Abbey Worship Book.

(we will be using this with two voices alternating the “one” lines, but it could be done with one leader and the congregation responding.)

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: after the parade

God of our salvation…
we grasp our coveted, once-a-year, palm branches…
we sing and shout, “Hosanna!”…
we proclaim in those moments
that we want you to save us…
but we’re not always sure
you understand what we mean. 

You have come to vanquish the status quo…
but we have been comfortable in that life.
You have come to turn the world upside down…
but we’re afraid you will shake things up
more than we intended.
You have come to draw us closer
to your vision for creation…
but, at times, we think you may be
just a little too impassioned. 

We like the palm branches.
We even like the hymns.
But we just want to go home after the parade. 

Forgive our lack of vision…
forgive our lukewarm passion…
and inspire us to step off the curb
and to start marching at your side… 

Submitted by Rev. Scott V. Cervas (Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church; Lexington, KY)

Christmas Eve Invocation: We Display Anticipation

God of all creation
we display anticipation
as we pray this invocation
on this day of celebration.

Here we offer our ovation
as we sing with jubilation
and we wait with great elation
for your loving incarnation.

We will hear the narration
of your ancient declaration
as we long for liberation
for the world and for each nation.

So we lift up in summation
hearts and minds for your formation
as we long for your salvation
resting on your firm foundation.

submitted by Rev. Scott V. Cervas, Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)

Confession: least likely

Your faithfulness is from generation to generation, O God. When we have lost our way, or turned away, you have sought us out, in the least likely of places. We confess that sometimes we would prefer that you stayed in the box we built for you, keeping out of our affairs. The systems we have built work for us, and you disrupt them with your insistence on lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry while sending the rich away empty. Forgive our self-centered ways, our narrow vision of justice, and our restricted love. Show your strength and favor once again, and help us follow in your way, according to your promise. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

Confession: cheer at the expense of joy

Word of God, Breath of Life, come and live among us again. Clear away the things that clutter our hearts and lives, making it difficult to see and do your will. And where we have chosen to believe your way is obscure, preferring our way to yours, make your truth shine out. When we have chosen to focus on cheer at the expense of joy, forgive us and cause righteousness and praise to spring up in your world once again. We pray in the name of the coming Christ. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

A Spark of…. Advent Candle Liturgies (year B)

Week 1 (Hope) Candle (Isaiah 64, Mark 13)
One: Come, Emmanuel.
The world is over-full of things that do not satisfy.
We watch and prepare, for divine presence to shake our complacency.
~candle is lit~
All: A spark of hope lights the way—
Clearing our vision and renewing our minds
To recognize God’s glory in our midst.

 

Week 2 (Peace) Candle (Isaiah 40, Mark 1)
One: Come, Emmanuel.
The world is not ready, the field is still uneven,
Yet we watch and prepare to see God’s glory revealed, together.
~candle is lit~
All: A spark of peace lights the way—
Despite our fast-fading courage,
We w
ill follow the voice calling us in the wilderness toward Shalom.

 

Week 3 (Joy) Candle (Isaiah 61, John 1)
One: Come, Emmanuel.
Days grow short and to-do lists lengthen.
We watch and prepare, for the Word is coming, full of grace and truth.
~candle is lit~
All: A spark of joy lights the way—
Though the flame flickers against the shadows,
We will rejoice in God’s covenant of everlasting love.

 

Week 4 (Love) Candle (Luke 1)
One: Come, Emmanuel.
The time draws near, each moment magnified
As we watch and prepare, for God is doing great things!
~candle is lit~
All: A spark of love lights the way—
Turning the world around to match the promise:
That we love because God first loved us.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson.

Confession: fading away

Holy and loving God, we hear your voice in the wilderness, and we come, seeking a glimpse of your glory in these days of lengthening darkness. We look for your star shining in the night sky, for the flickering candle holding back the shadows, and we strain our ears to listen for your word amidst the clamor of the festive season.
We confess that we don’t always want to hear what you are saying. We don’t want to turn and go another way, nor to stop and wait in the quiet when there is fun to be had. We are skeptical of comfort that is more than warm fuzzy feelings, or that asks something of us. We confess that we are prone to fading away like flowers and grass, unable to withstand challenges to our way of thinking or our way of life. And yet still you call, still you tell us to take comfort, still you come among us and live within us and believe in us.
Forgive us, O God, our fickle hearts, so often full of things other than you. Forgive our tendency to wander away, to prefer shallow comfort to your deep peace. Open us again to your love, that we may walk with you in every way. We pray in the name of Christ, the prince of peace. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

Blue Christmas prayer

God of comfort, come gently among us this evening; hear our prayers, restore our souls.

Piece together our loose ends; smooth over our rough edges; restore our souls.

When lights and decorations fail to delight our senses, and serve only to deepen our pain and grief, restore our souls.

When we clench our fists in anger, open our hands to receive your grace.

When we are worn out and beat down, surround us with your peace.

When our doubts outweigh our hopes, increase our faith.

When we have no energy left to love, love us all the more.

When we cannot bring ourselves to pray, pray for us, as we remember how Jesus prayed, saying… OUR FATHER…

 

Submitted by Jerie Lukefahr, CRE