Advent Readings

advent-sm Check out the great resources Cardiphonia has for Advent and Christmas here and here.

Also, below is a set of Advent readings we used last year in our worship services during the lighting of the Advent candles. We compiled/adapted them from multiple sources. The ending prayers came from Presbyterian liturgy. The introduction section came from Doug Jones, who also introduced me to Paul Sheneman’s book Illuminate: An Advent Experience, which contains devotional readings for every day in Advent and is a great resource for families. Several sections of the readings are sourced from Sheneman’s book. He has also published two other Advent experience books: Anticipate and Celebrate.


INTRODUCTION

As we approach this Sunday, we begin a new cycle of the Christian year. The Christian year begins in the season of Advent, four Sundays prior to Christmas. We mark each Sunday of Advent by lighting a candle. As the year grows darker and darker (and the days grow shorter and shorter) with the approach of winter, we light up our worship with more candles as we remember and anticipate the coming of Jesus, the Light of the world.

John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The four Sundays of Advent focus on four themes that surround the anticipation and expectation of the coming of Jesus – hope, peace, joy and love.


WEEK 1

Reader 1:
The first candle of Advent is the prophets’ candle, which symbolizes hope. As the prophets of Israel received from God messages of hope about his promise to heal and reclaim Israel, we also receive that message today. The flicker of a single flame reminds us that the Light of World, Jesus, has already come. However, Jesus has not yet returned to complete the work he started. We wait and anticipate the second coming of the Son of God in order to make all things right and rid the world of darkness. Today, we are called to recognize the darkness and to hope in the Light as we retell the story of this good and powerful God who came in the form of a little baby to heal the hurting world.

Reader 2:
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.   Isaiah 9:2-7

Please pray this prayer with us:

Lord Jesus Christ, hope of the world,
we celebrate your coming to us
in the fragility of flesh and blood,
and anticipate your coming again
for the healing of the nations.
Help us share your great promises of hope
with those facing despair, enduring injustice,
and those struggling to find direction. Amen.


WEEK 2

Reader 1:
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke open with story of the birth of Jesus, but the Gospel of Mark doesn’t. Instead, it opens like this:
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Reader 2:
Instead of having angels, shepherds, or wise men prepare us for Christmas, the gospel of Mark gives us a weather-beaten prophet wearing camel-hair clothes and baptizing people in the wilderness. Mark wants us to pay attention to John’s preaching before he gets to the story of Jesus. We need to hear God’s voice in the wilderness of our busy and chaotic lives, calling us to get ready for the great coming of Jesus—to prepare our hearts to receive the One who is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The baptism of repentance John announces to the crowds calls them not only to confess their sins but also to turn away from them and turn toward God. Only then will the people be ready for what God is about to do.

Please pray this prayer with us:

Lord Jesus Christ, our peacemaker,
as we celebrate your willingness
to step into our tense and troubled world,
help us to be instruments of your peace,
bringing love where there is hatred,
pardon where there is injury,
and hope where there is despair. Amen.


WEEK 3

Reader 1:
In this season of Advent, we celebrate the coming of Jesus as God’s joy among us. A day is coming when God will gather everyone. Even the oppressed and the outcast will come home, and we will rejoice. Until that day, we serve an aching world in the power of the Spirit, trading fear for gladness, and worry for prayer. As the candle of joy is lit, set anxiety aside, rejoice in the Lord, pray with thanks, and make every need known to God. We pray for the day when God’s salvation is fully come and the whole world rejoices.

Reader 2:
Zephaniah 3:14-17
14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Please pray this prayer with us:

Lord Jesus Christ,
we already know and celebrate your joy.
But we long for our weary world
to know the joy of a new beginning.
Help us to share your joy with all
who are hungry or weighed down by sorrow,
both those we meet every day
and those around the earth whom we will never meet.
Amen.


WEEK 4

Reader 1:
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent when we light the candle of love. It is sometimes called the angels’ candle to remind us of the angels who heralded the birth of the Savior who loves us. During Advent we celebrate the coming of Jesus as God’s gift to us: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ Until the day when the world is filled with God’s promised eternal life and everything is made right, we receive and celebrate the sacrificial love of Jesus.

Reader 2:
1 John 4:9-11 says: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Please pray this prayer with us:

Lord Jesus Christ,
as we celebrate how you reveal God’s love,
make us mindful of the loveless lives of people we often overlook
but who have immense value to you.
Open our hearts and hands to love the loveless,
lift up the forgotten, and restore the lost,
whether close to us or far away. Amen.