Slowing Down the Season: Advent Candlelighting Liturgies

These liturgies were developed alongside a sermon series, “Christmas Without the Crazy.” They lift up the value of slowing down and focusing on the simple gifts of Christ in a busy season. The pieces of each liturgy may be split among groups as desired.

Week One: Hope

A. Advent teaches us the value of slowing down. In the middle of a busy season, we stop to light a candle, read some scripture, and pray. It doesn’t take much time. But it reminds us what we are really doing this month—preparing the way for Christ.

 

B. The first candle is the light of hope. (light the candle)

Everything begins with hope—hope that our faith is more than words, more than promises, more than rituals. We put our hope not in earthly things but in Jesus Christ, who is more powerful and more generous and more loving than anything we can imagine. We have hope that in Jesus we are never alone, never forsaken, and never lost. We hope in the day of the Lord, when everything that frightens or frustrates us now will be wiped away, and we will see the face of God clearly.

 

C. We pray with the psalmist:

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
God alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in the Lord at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 67:5-8)

D. Jesus Christ, as we light these candles and wait for your coming, help us to shine just as brightly with your hope. We want to be your light in the darkness for all who need to know the gift of your love. Help us to keep our hearts focused on you. We pray in your most holy name. Amen.

 

Week Two: Peace  

A. Advent teaches us the value of slowing down. In the middle of a busy season, we stop to light a candle, read some scripture, and pray. It doesn’t take much time. But it reminds us what we are really doing this month—preparing the way for Christ.

 

B. The first candle is the light of hope. (light the candle opposite the pink candle) The second candle is the light of peace. (light the candle at the back)

Peace for Christians is more than just a lack of conflict or violence. Peace means a sense of wholeness, what happens when everything and everybody is in a just and compassionate relationship with everything and everyone else. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace because he showed us what it takes to truly love our neighbor, the foundation for lasting peace. Eagerly we await Jesus’ coming again to reign, to bring peace to a war-torn and weary world.

 

C. We pray with the psalmist:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be in my mouth.
I praise the Lord—
let the suffering listen and rejoice.
Magnify the Lord with me!
Together let us lift his name up high!
I sought the Lord and he answered me.
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to God will shine;
their faces are never ashamed. (Psalm 34:1-5)

 

D. Jesus Christ, as we light these candles and wait for your coming, help us to shine just as brightly with your peace. We want to be your light in the darkness for all who need to know the gift of your holy presence. Help us to keep our hearts focused on you. We pray in your most holy name. Amen.

 

Week Three: Joy  

A. Advent teaches us the value of slowing down. In the middle of a busy season, we stop to light a candle, read some scripture, and pray. It doesn’t take much time. But it reminds us what we are really doing this month—preparing the way for Christ.

B. The first candle is the light of hope. (light candle #1) The second candle is the light of peace. (light candle #2) The third candle is the candle of joy. (light the pink candle #3)

As we count down the final days to Christmas, we remember to rejoice in everything that God has done. From the glory of creation to the gift of salvation, God’s grace is poured into our lives every day. As Christians, we rejoice even in the darkest times, because we know God is always working to set right what has gone wrong, and make beautiful what has been broken.

 

C. We pray with the psalmist:

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95:1-7)

 

D. Jesus Christ, as we light these candles and wait for your coming, help us to shine just as brightly with your joy. We want to be your light in the darkness for all who need to know the gift of your holy presence. Help us to keep our hearts focused on you. We pray in your most holy name. Amen.

Week Four: Love  

A. Advent teaches us the value of slowing down. In the middle of a busy season, we stop to light a candle, read some scripture, and pray. It doesn’t take much time. But it reminds us what we are really doing this month—preparing the way for Christ.

B. The first candle is the light of hope. (light candle #1) The second candle is the light of peace. (light candle #2) The third candle is the light of joy. (light the pink candle #3) The fourth candle is the light of love. (light candle #4)

As we wait through the final hours before Christmas, we remember that God so loved the world that Jesus Christ, God’s only son, came to live among us, vulnerable like we are. Jesus is the pattern for how we love—not with reluctance or hesitation, but with body, mind, soul, heart, and strength. We love because he first loved us.

 

C. We pray with the psalmist:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:1, 8-12)

 

D. Jesus Christ, as we light these candles and wait for your coming, help us to shine just as brightly with your love. We want to be your light in the darkness for all who need to know the gift of your holy presence. Help us to keep our hearts focused on you. We pray in your most holy name. Amen.

 

Christmas Eve: Christ

A. We have marked the weeks faithfully, but now the time for waiting is over. Tonight we celebrate the Christ, our beloved Savior, who is present with us now and till the end of the age.

B. The first candle is the light of hope. (light candle #1) The second candle is the light of peace. (light candle #2) The third candle is the light of joy. (light the pink candle #3) The fourth candle is the light of love. (light candle #4) Tonight, at last, we light the Christ candle. (light white center candle)

Tonight we remember who it is that brings us hope, who gives us peace, who fills us with joy, who blesses us with love. It is Jesus Christ, who is the Light of our World, by whom we see a world made new.

 

C. We rejoice with the prophet:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2,6)

 

D. Jesus Christ, as we light these candles and celebrate your coming, help us to shine just as brightly with your love. We want to be your light in the darkness for all who need to know the gift of your holy presence. Help us to keep our hearts focused on you. We pray in your most holy name. Amen.

 

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