Promises, Promises: Advent Candlelighting Liturgies

These liturgies highlight the promises of God. They are paired with verses from O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The pieces of the liturgy may be split as desired among readers.

Week One: Hope

A. We are the people who wait with hope. In a world of cynicism and despair, we refuse to give in or give up. Our Advent candles are a sign of our defiance—the light of hope to dispel the gloom.

B. The first candle is the candle of hope. (light the candle) We put our hope in God, who has promised good to us. We hope for the day when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, and we see a world made new.

C. Hear the promises of scripture from the prophet Jeremiah:

The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
when I will fulfill the promise I made
to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
In those days and at that time
I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David;
and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this is the name by which it will be called:
“The Lord is our righteousness.”[1]

D. Jesus Christ, help us to hold tight to your promises, hoping even in the darkest night for your power to break through. In you alone we hope, and for you alone we wait this day. Amen.

E. Let us sing today’s verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

Week Two: Peace  

A. We are the people who wait and work for peace. In a world of violence and cruelty, we refuse to give in or give up. Our Advent candles are a sign of our defiance—the light of peace to dispel the gloom.

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)

The promise of peace is not an empty one. We trust in the day when God will heal the wounds that cause us to lash out, quell the anger that pits nations against nations, and calm the unrest that troubles our own hearts. Blessed is the Lord our God, and blessed are God’s peacemakers.

C. Hear the promises of scripture from the gospel of Luke:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. …

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”[2]

D. Jesus Christ, help us to hold tight to your promises, praying for peace even when it seems impossible. For you alone are our peace, and for you alone we wait this day. Amen.

E. Let us sing today’s verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, Desire of nations, bind
all peoples in one heart and mind;
bid envy, strife, and discord cease;
fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

Week Three: Joy  

A. We are the people who celebrate joy. In a world of sadness and pain, we refuse to give in or give up. Our Advent candles are a sign of our defiance—the light of joy to dispel the gloom.

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)

Our joy is more than mere happiness. Our joy is rooted deep in God’s goodness, in the promises we have of something more than just this life. Our joy is a deep well we can draw comfort from. To be joyful is to be a child of God.

 C. Hear the promises of scripture from the prophet Isaiah:

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.[3]

D. Jesus Christ, help us to hold tight to your promises, living for sparks of your joy even when life is hard. For you alone are the source of our joy, and for you alone we wait this day. Amen.

E. Let us sing today’s verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, thou Root of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save
and give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 Week Four: Love  

A. We are the people who know the true depth of love. In a world of apathy and hatred, we refuse to give in or give up. Our Advent candles are a sign of our defiance—the light of love to dispel the gloom.

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)

Our faith tells us that Love is so central to who God is that the very word is another name for God. God is love, and all who love know God, and God dwells in them. By loving we reflect Christ out into the world, like light through a prism.

C. Hear the promises of scripture from the prophet Micah:

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.

Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.[4]

D. Jesus Christ, help us to hold tight to your promises, loving with all we have in reflection of your great love. For you alone are Love, and for you alone we wait this day. Amen.

Let us sing today’s verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

Christmas Eve: Christ

A. We are the people who know what this Christmas Eve is truly about—welcoming the newborn Christ once more into our hearts. In a world of distractions and temptations, we refuse to give in or give up. Our Advent candles are a sign of our defiance—the light of Christ to dispel the gloom.

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, our King and our Shepherd.

 C. Hear the promises of scripture from the prophet Isaiah:

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.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.[5]

D. Jesus Christ, help us to hold tight to your promises, that one day you will come again in glory, to make all things new. For you alone are our God, and for you alone we wait this day and until you come again. Amen.

Let us sing today’s verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

[1] Jeremiah 33:14-16

[2] Luke 1:68-71, 76-79

[3] Isaiah 12:2-6

[4] Micah 5:2-5a

[5] Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

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