Here in the week before Christmas, I am posting the advent Readings that we have been using this year at First Baptist Church. Here is Joy.
Leaders: Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit”. In the Christian season of Advent, we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. This morning, we continue to light the advent candles as we move towards Chrsitmas and the birth of Christ, Holy God made flesh.
People: As we light the candles, we continue our journey to Christmas, in anticipation his birth, and in anticipation of the day when Christ will return and bring his ultimate, everlasting joy for all eternity.
[Light two purple candles, and one pink candle.]
Leaders: Today we re-light the candles of hope and peace. Now, we light the candle of joy, and as we do, we remember:
People: We remember that Christ alone is our ultimate source of hope, peace, and unimaginable and everlasting joy.
Leaders: We remember Gods promise to Israel of a messiah who will judge evil, make all sorrow and sadness cease, and bring his everlasting joy forever.
People: We remember our need for a Savior who will save us from our sins, and that Chris’s birth is good news of great joy for all people because it is news of that promised savior.
Leaders: We remember that in a world that finds pleasure in the abundance of material possessions, we are called to find our true joy in Christ, the image of the invisible God made visible, as we look back on his birth, and look forward to his glorious return.
People: We remember that as we press forward in our world of sorrow and sadness, we can do so with confidence knowing that in Christ, we have a source of incomparable joy in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Leaders: I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. (Jeremiah 31:13)Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. (1 Chron. 16:33) I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:18-19)
People: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelations 21:4)
Leaders: When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:4-5)
People: As we remember Christ's birth, and anticipate Christ's Glorious Return, may God grant us his everlasting joy!
Together: Holy God, who announced your news of great joy for all people to lowly shepherds, as we light these candles this Advent season, we rejoice, for we know how the first act of the story ended with the birth of Jesus the Messiah, and we know that the second act will end when he comes again in glory. Fix our hearts and our minds on those things you have done and will do, and fill us always with your joy as we hope in our savior who has come, and will come again! Amen.