4 Advent Sermons and 1 Christmas Eve Sermon 2012 Year C

Welcome to the Time of Preparation!

This post contains 5 sermons covering the 4 Sundays of Advent and Christmas Eve. My church uses the children’s time to light the Advent Wreath candles: the children gather on the chancel steps; we review the previous candles’s themes; we present today’s theme and message; we light the candles using an echo prayer; and we end singing the third verse of Away in a Manager. Our new church members/families light the candles each week, and the family with the newest baby lights the candles on Christmas Eve.

Last year my candle themes followed the traditional pattern. This year I am using different names for the candles. As my friend Jill says, “You can call them anything as long as the sermon (makes) the connection to the lectionary. Anything that causes us to stop and think is a GOOD addition to Advent, since that’s what Advent is, of course: a time to stop and wait when the world is telling us to go faster and faster!”  With that in mind, you can easily call each candle by whatever name fits your congregation’s needs.

1st Sunday in Advent–December 2–BreathingLuke 21:25-36
2nd Sunday in Advent–December 9–Remembering–Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
3rd Sunday in Advent–December 16–Working–Luke 3:7-18
4th Sunday in Advent–December 23–Listening–Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)
Christmas Eve–December 24–Holding!–Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

I hope that you make room in this fleeting season…
Frances

1st Sunday in Advent–December 2, 2012
The Candle of Breathing
lectionary focus: Luke 21:25-36

Welcome to the Season of Advent!
You are doing something right now without knowing it. And even when I tell you what it is, you will still be doing it. We are each breathing! Take a deep breath. Hold it. Let it out. You are all very good at breathing. You do it all the time without having to think about it. But you know what? Grownups are not always very good at breathing. Sometimes we get so busy and worried and crazy, we forget to do it well. But you always do it well.

This week we start a new church year with the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we make room for the mystery of Christmas. You’ve probably noticed everybody getting ready. Planning, shopping, decorating, cooking, traveling, everybody is getting ready; everybody is busy and becoming busier. Well, this Advent, I have a job for you. A job to help your parents and family get ready for Christmas without going crazy. Your job is to help them remember to breathe. I said you are very good at breathing, right? And grownups sometimes forget? Well, you need to help them. And this what you do:
You say,
Hey!
Come on, say it…Hey!
And do the hand motions. (throw both hands up in the air above your head)
Breathe in. (pull your hands in like pulling in the breath)
(Kids should be repeating after you and copying your hand motions.)
Breathe out. (push hands away like pushing the breath out)
Breathe in. (repeat motion)
Breathe out. (repeat motion)
Amen. (fold hands together)

Amen? Yes, because your breathing is really a prayer. When you breathe in, you ask Jesus to come into you. And when you breathe out, you push all your worries away so you can have plenty of room for Jesus. Our Bible story today calls us to be strong, to be ready, and to pray. By reminding your family to breathe, you are helping us all make room for Jesus in our Christmas celebration.

Today we light the First Candle in our Advent Wreath. People have different names for the different candles. I want to call this First Candle, the Candle of Breathing.
(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Today Theo and his family will light our candle…)
While we now light the First Candle of Advent, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light this candle
on the First Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must breathe
as we prepare
for the coming of the Christ Child.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third verse of Away in a Manger: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

Peace.

2nd Sunday in Advent–December 9, 2012
The Candle of Remembering
lectionary focus: Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Today is the Second Sunday in Advent!
Last Sunday, we lit the First Candle, the Candle of Breathing. We talked about how grownups can sometimes forget to breathe well. Have you been doing your Advent job of reminding your family to breathe? Breathing reminds us to make room for Jesus.

Our Bible story today begins telling of Jesus’s life on earth. I love how we re-read these stories every Advent. The words are so familiar to me, I can almost say them along with our reader without even having my Bible open! We are a story people. Hearing stories is how we know. Hearing stories is how we learn. And by hearing these old stories every year, over and over, by remembering the Words, they become a part of us, a part of our story now. By remembering our Bible stories we become the Living Word of God.

Today we light the Second Candle in our Advent Wreath, the Candle of Remembering. We prepare ourselves for Christmas and make room for Jesus by remembering our Bible stories, by remembering our stories.
(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: This Sunday our newlyweds, the Kane family, will light our candles.)
While they now light the First and Second Candles of Advent, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the Second Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must remember
Your story
as we prepare
for the coming of the Christ Child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third verse of Away in a Manger: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

Peace.

3rd Sunday in Advent–December 16, 2012
The Candle of Working
lectionary focus: Luke 3:7-18

Today we light the Third Candle of Advent! So far we have lit the First Candle — the Candle of Breathing…have you been reminding your family to breathe?; and the Second Candle — the Candle of Remembering. Today we light the Third Candle — the Candle of Working. Our Bible story today tells us about Jesus’s cousin, John. John was a hard worker. John worked to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus. The people asked John, “What are we supposed to do? How are we to get ready for Jesus?” We, too, want to know how to make room for Jesus and to prepare for Christmas. John gives us the answer: We are to work. But what kind of work? The question is not what kind of work, but how do we work? John gives us the answer: We are to work with love. Whatever we do…studying, sharing, laughing, cleaning, practicing, chores, playing…is our work and we do this work for Jesus with love.

This Sunday, we light the Candle of Working. By lighting this candle with love, by doing all that we do with love, we are working to prepare room for Jesus.
(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: This Sunday our three best-friend, seven-year-olds will light our three candles.)
While we now light the First, Second, and Third candles of Advent, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the Third Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must work
with love
to prepare
for the coming of the Christ Child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third verse of Away in a Manger: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

Peace.

4th Sunday in Advent–December 23, 2012
The Candle of Listening
lectionary focus: Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Advent! And the way the calendar works, tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Christmas is almost here! (kind of fire up the kids so that you have to get their attention)

Now listen to me. Listen. Hey, listen. I bet you hear your teachers say that a lot. I bet your parents say it a lot. Listening can be hard. I mean, it is easy to hear things. Our ears are very good at receiving sound waves and transmitting them to our brains. That is hearing. But listening is when we give our attention to a sound — when we focus on a sound. In our Bible story today, Mary not only hears the Angel of the Lord, but she listens. She focuses on the news that she will be the Mother of Jesus. Mary declares her focus, rejoicing and singing a most beautiful song.

At this time of year, we hear many sounds. It is a time of excitement and being loud with happiness. But as we hear all of these sounds, we must also listen for the Word of God. As we prepare ourselves for Christmas, as we make room for Jesus, we must listen and focus on God.
(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Lighting our four candles today are some of our college students who have come home for the holidays.)
Listen now as we now light the Candle of Breathing, the Candle of Remembering, the Candle of Working, and the Candle of Listening. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the Fourth Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must focus
our preparations
as we listen
for the coming of the Christ Child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third verse of Away in a Manger: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

Peace.

Christmas Eve/Day–December 24/25, 2012
The Christ Candle–the Candle of Holding
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

Merry Christmas!
We began our Advent season a long time ago. We have spent four weeks making room for Jesus.  We have lit the four candles of the Advent Wreath. Tonight we have Miles’ family with his brand new baby sister to help us re-light the candles. First they light the Candle of Breathing (have you been reminding your family to breathe?); then the Candle of Remembering; then the Candle of Working; and then the Candle of Listening. But what about the candle in the middle? What about the candle in the center of the wreath? Before we light it, let me  tell you its story:

Along our Advent journey, we have read many Bible stories, and tonight we come to one of most remembered stories in the Bible — the story of the birth of Jesus. I love the part about the shepherds working in the fields and then an Angel appears to them. Imagine listening to the Angel say: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Did you hear that word? Behold. That’s fancy, old language for “Look!” While we don’t use that word commonly now, we understand that’s what the Angel is saying. But did you listen to that word? Behold. Be – Hold. The Angel is not telling us to look just with our eyes. The Angel is calling us to grab this Joy with our hands; to bring it into ourselves; to keep this Joy in our hearts; to HOLD the Lord. … Jesus is born for us. We have room.
And so now Miles’ family will light the candle in the center — the Christ Candle. Let us celebrate Christmas and beHOLD the Lord!
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Christ Candle.
We light the Candle of Holding.
Behold!
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third verse of Away in a Manger: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

Peace.

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Merry Christmas!

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2 responses to “4 Advent Sermons and 1 Christmas Eve Sermon 2012 Year C

  1. Pingback: Gathering Advent 2013 | on the chancel steps

  2. Pingback: Advent is Coming! | on the chancel steps

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