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 Love.
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 Christmas and the birth of Christ, Holy God made flesh.
People: As we light the candles, we continue our journey to Christmas, in anticipation of celebrating his birth, and in anticipation of the day when our loving savior will return in glory.
[Light three purple candles, and one pink candle.]
Leaders: Today we re-light the candles of hope, peace, and joy. Now, we light the candle of love, and as we do, we remember:
People: We remember that Christ alone is our ultimate source of hope, peace, joy, and love, and that he is God’s perfect love incarnate.
Leaders: We remember Gods promise to Israel of a loving messiah who will demonstrate Gods love completely, and rejoice that God demonstrated his perfect love in the sending his Son, Jesus Christ.
People: We remember our need for a Savior who will save us from our sins, and bring the love of God into our lives.
Leaders: We remember that Christ demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, we are also to love.
People: We remember that out of darkness light shines. The true light of life whose love overcame darkness, and whose love is our light, both now and forevermore.
Leaders: Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:18-20)
People: The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.(Zephaniah 3:17-18) God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5-8) No one has greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)
Leaders: God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39) I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.(John 13:34-35) We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
People: As we remember Christ’s birth, and anticipate Christ’s Glorious return, may God fill our hearts with His love.
Together: Redeeming God, who revealed your love to humble servants like Mary and Joseph, and demonstrated your love through the life, death, and resurrection of your son, as we light these advent candles, remembering his birth, and anticipating his return, we ask that you teach us to love, may we know and grow in your love. May our hearts be filled with your love, a love for each other as a church, and a love for the world around, and may we demonstrate your love in such a way that the world may see our love and glorify our father who is in heaven. Amen!
Here are the sources that I used to generate ideas, in addition to the advent readings that the church had used for the last several years, which came from an article called What to expect when your expecting: six service plans for advent and Christmas. An series of Advent readings by Mark Roberts of Pathoes. An article by from Reformed worship called, I'm Waiting: A thoughtfull appraoch to using the advent wreath in worship. An Advent devotional guide done by Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and most helpfully, a sereis on Advent Readings and Lightings done by Mike Milton of Reformed Theological Seminary.