Many churches celebrate Advent by lighting candles and reading liturgies together as we remind ourselves that we live between two advents, the first advent that we celebrate as Christmas, and the second coming that we long for. The emphasis and manner of celebration of this varies greatly. One of my Episcopal friends told me that they are not allowed to make a big deal of the advent candle lighting, while others, have responsive readings and make a huge deal of it. First Baptist is the later. Additionally, there is no one way to "do Advent" something I have been learning. Some celebrate the candle lightings as hope, peace, love, joy, while others do themes of light, or prophets, angels, shepherds, and so on... there is a great deal of difference in the significance of the candles.
I learned this, because I decided I needed new readings. I have not been happy with the readings we have used for the last few years, and not having a book of common prayer like my Episcopal friend, I went to google, and found lots of good readings, but none that felt right. None of the readings seemed like they fit First Baptist.
So, I decided to write my own. I will be posting them in the week leading up to Christmas . I have used a variety of sources to get ideas and wording from (if you want them, I'll send you a list), I take no credit for original genuis. I hope they encourage you as walk through advent. Here is Hope. The first instalment.
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 begin to light the advent candles as we move towards Chrsitmas and the Birth of Christ, Holy God made flesh.
People: As we light the candle, we begin our journey to Christmas in anticipation of the day when Christ will return in glory.
[Light one purple candle.]
Leaders: Today we light the candle of hope, and we remember:
People: We remember the hope that the prophets foretold, and that scripture declares.
Leaders: We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
People: We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins, and our hope for the second coming of Jesus to restore all things.
Leaders: We remember the that in Christ, the infinite became finite, the one who was in very nature God, the unimaginable liberator of whom the prophets spoke, the holiest of holies, the sovereign light of the world and the one in whom the fullness of deity dwells, took on flesh and came as a helpless babe.
People: We remember that as we press forward in our world of struggles and hardship, we can do so with confidence as we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ, who is the source of our true and ultimate hope now and forever.
Leaders: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.. (Ps. 130:5) Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:31) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22-23)
People: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them the light has shined. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6)
Leaders: “Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope”. (1 Peter. 1:3). May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans15:13)
People: In our hope of Christ’s return we find our strength for each new day as we prepare to welcome Christ into our world and into our hearts here at Christmas.
Together: Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation, as we light this candle and begin this new Advent season, shine the light of your hope into our hearts and into our world, give us grace to heed the warnings of the prophets, and of our savior and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.