Tag Archives: Advent Wreath

Advent and Christmas 2015: Highlighting the Advent Wreath

IMG_1661This post contains 5 sermons: 4 for Advent and 1 for Christmas Eve. (For our other Advent series, check 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.) This year during the children’s sermon, my church Edgewood Presbyterian Church is highlighting the Advent Wreath. Each week a Youth (who are also our lay readers during December) will light the Advent candles at the appropriate time. We are using the traditional words: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love in the traditional order—but on Christmas Eve we will rearrange our traditional Order of Worship in a meaningful way!

We are also excited to use a hymn written especially for the Advent Wreath. Light a Candle Bright and Tall by David Wood (2012) can be found here. I have left a message on his post; I encourage you to do the same if you use his song.

The First Sunday of Advent: November 29: The Candle of Hope
lectionary focus: Luke 21:25-36
The Second Sunday of Advent: December 6: The Candle of Peace
lectionary focus: Luke 1:68-79
The Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudet Sunday): December 13: The Candle of Joy
lectionary focus: Philippians 4:4-7
The Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 20: The Candle of Love
lectionary focus: Luke 1:35-45 (46-55)
Christmas Eve: December 24, 2015: The Christ Candle
lectionary focus: 1 John 4:7-9, 16b

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Let us begin…(and please let me know of any typos, errors, or broken links!) 

*****

candle1For Sunday, November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 21:25-36
references:
hope not as wish-so, but as know-so from an article by Jack Wellman, Patheos, 5/26/2014
Desmond Tutu quote from The New York Times, 3/7/2010.

Hello!

We are now in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. While the stores and shops are trying to get us to rush up to Christmas, we here at Church settle into the time of getting ready. We sing slowly, we pray slowly, and we listen slowly.

To help us mark these four slow weeks until Christmas, we light the candles of the Advent Wreath. Notice there are four blue candles for the four weeks. We light one candle each week, slowly making the wreath brighter and brighter and brighter. And when we have lit all of the blue candles, then it will be time to light the white candle; then it will be Christmas.

But Christmas is still a long time from now. And so today, the First Sunday of Advent, Finn will light one candle. We start with the Candle of Hope.

I always thought that hope meant a wish…I hope that it snows this year. But our Advent hope is not a wish-so, this hope is a know-soby our hope in Jesus, we know that the world is surrounded by His light.

This one candle by itself does not seem like very much. But there is a wise man named Desmond Tutu who said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Let me say that again, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And so the Candle of Hope is the perfect place to start our Advent.

After our prayer, we have a special song to sing.
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 Candle of Hope
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the first verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

candle2For Sunday, December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 1:68-79

Hello!

We are now in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. The world is trying to get us to rush up to Christmas, but we here at Church are settling into this time of getting ready. We are singing slowly, we are praying slowly, and we are listening slowly.

To help us mark these slow weeks until Christmas, we light the candles of the Advent Wreath. As we light one more blue candle each Sunday, the wreath will get brighter and brighter and brighter. And when we have lit all of the blue candles, then it will be time to light the white candle; then it will be Christmas.

But it is not Christmas yet. Last Sunday, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, and that means Adrian will now light the second candle, the Candle of Peace.

I always thought peace meant completely silent and still. Listen to the candles. We can’t really hear them. Yet, notice how they flicker and move. The flames are so quiet, but they are not still.

In our Bible story today from the book of Luke, we hear that peace is an action. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaims God’s faithfulness, God’s salvation, and God’s peace. We are reminded that God calls us to move forward into the action of peace.

Our Advent Wreath is now a little bit brighter. We continue our slow journey to the celebration of the light of Jesus. With Hope and Peace, let us move forward into the action of sharing the light of Jesus.

After our prayer, we have another verse of our special song.
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 Candle of Peace
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the second verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

1advent8260aFor Sunday, December 13, 2015
Third Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Philippians 4:4-7

Hello!

We are well into the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. It certainly seems we are rushing up to Christmas, but here at Church we are in this time of getting ready. We are trying to sing slowly, we are trying to pray slowly, and we are trying to listen slowly.

But you know, this Advent stuff has been going on a long time. And it’s still not Christmas. We’re trying to be all slow, trying not to rush getting ready for the celebration. But slow is hard.

And so today. We’re going to take a break from slow.

It’s still not Christmas yet, but today is the Third Sunday of Advent, today we light the Candle of Joy. And you know: joy just ain’t slow.

But, let me back up a bit.

On the First Sunday of Advent, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

Last week on the Second Sunday of Advent, we moved forward with action and lit the Candle of Peace. We listened to the silent candles, but watched them flicker and move.

And like I said, today is the Third Sunday of Advent. Now Sarah will light the Candle of Joy.

Another name for the Third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is an old Latin word that means Rejoice! And what do we hear in our Bible story today? From the book of Philippians, loud and clear, we hear “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Say after me, “Rejoice!” (Rejoice!) (Get them really going on this…lots of joy!)

Sigh. That felt good.

The Advent Wreath is a way for us to mark the long, slow weeks until Christmas. The three candles of our wreath are giving a good amount light. Makes us excited about how much more light is coming. With Hope, Peace, and Joy, the world is looking brighter and brighter.

After our prayer, we have a special song to sing.
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 Candle of Joy
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace,
to live in Your Joy.
Shine within our hearts today.
Rejoice!!
Amen

And now we will sing the third verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

1xmas8289For Sunday, December 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Hello!

We are still in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we get ready for the mystery of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration that Jesus becomes the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus. The world has been getting us to rush up to Christmas, but we here at Church have been slowly getting ready. We have been singing slowly, we have been praying slowly, and we have been listening slowly.

To help us mark these slow weeks until Christmas, we have lit the candles of the Advent Wreath. The wreath has gotten brighter and brighter and brighter.

But it is not Christmas yet. On the First Sunday of Advent, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We heard that by our hope in Jesus we are able to see the light despite all of the darkness.

On the Second Sunday of Advent, we moved forward with action and lit the Candle of Peace. We listened to the silent candles, but watched them flicker and move.

And last week on the Third Sunday of Advent, we took a break from slow and lit the Candle of Joy. Rejoice!!

And now look! There’s only one blue candle left! And we are going to light it today. Go ahead JD and light the Fourth Candle, the Candle of Love.

Our Bible stories during Advent have given us bits and pieces of the Christmas story. Today’s reading we hear of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her visit with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary sings a beautiful song, a song of hope, peace, and joy, all wrapped up in a coat of love, love, love. Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Love is about as big a light as we humans can make. And yet, God’s love for us is brighter. We call this the Candle of Love because no matter what, God’s love will always outshine the darkness.

All four blue candles are now lit. But we have a few more days left in Advent. We have a few days to carry slowly the brightly shining lights of hope, peace, joy, and love. And then we will celebrate Jesus becoming the light of the world, we will celebrate living in His light, we will celebrate a love and a light that knows no end.

After our prayer, we have another verse of our special song.
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 Candle of Love
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
Help us
to live in Your Light,
to live in Your Hope,
to live in Your Peace,
to live in Your Joy,
to live in Your Love.
Shine within our hearts today.
Amen

And now we will sing the fourth verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

*****

IMG_1661For Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas Eve
Year C
lectionary focus: 1 John 4:7-9, 16b (This is flexible if you are not using this scripture.)

Technical notes:
On Christmas Eve, EPC does a candlelight service of 6 lessons and carols with the children’s sermon coming between the second and third lesson, the adult sermon between the fourth and fifth lesson, and following the sixth lesson the sharing of the light. We have decided this year to switch up the order.* The adult sermon will come between the third and fourth lesson. After the fourth carol is sung, those younger children who have opted to be in the nursery will brought in to the sanctuary and be invited with all the children down to the chancel steps. We will ‘review’ the Advent Wreath; light the Christ Candle; and then all listen from the steps as the fifth lesson (1 John 4:7-9, 16b) is read. We will pray; sing the Advent Wreath verse; and send the children to join their families as we prepare for the congregational candlelighting. With our children’s sermon series focus on the light, we want to make sure the children are ALL there for the candlelighting…it is the highlight of our series on Jesus becoming the light of the world!
*Parents will be notified so they can make decisions about their children who typically stay through the early children’s sermon and then head to the nursery.

Hello!

Merry Christmas! Yes, Christmas is here!

We have moved slowly through Advent; all four of our blue Advent candles are lit; now we are here at Christmas. We are celebrating that Jesus has become the light of the world, that we live in His light, and that no darkness can cover up the light of Jesus.

In the center of our Advent Wreath is the white candle. Surrounded by the Candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, we call this center candle the Christ Candle. As Sabrina lights the Christ Candle, let us listen to Word of the Lord. (The reading of 1 John 4:7-9, 16b)

Our Advent Wreath is now fully bright. But the light does not stop and end here. As we just heard, the light and love lives in us. And God calls us to share the light of Jesus. In just a moment, you guys will go back to where your families are sitting. You each have a candle there like this. Our acolytes will take the light from the Christ Candle and share it with each of us, and we will share it with each other, and soon our bright Advent Wreath will be even brighter as the light shines throughout the church. Now it’s important to remember, when we are holding the light of Jesus, when we are holding the lit candle, we do not tilt the candle. Wax can be hot. We always hold the lit candle bright and tall.

Jesus is the light of the world. We live in His light. No darkness can cover up the light of Jesus.

After our prayer, we will sing our special song.
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
that everyone may see
Jesus is the Light of the World.
We live in Your Hope.
We live in Your Peace.
We live in Your Joy.
We live in Your Love.
We live in Your Light.
Shine within our hearts.
Amen

And now we sing the final verse of Light a Candle Bright and Tall.

And now go find your family…

Thanks be for each of you,
my on the chancel steps friends,
for being part of my family!

Merry Christmas!
May the light of Jesus continue to shine through you.
Fran

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

 

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Gathering Advent 2013

AChristmasfor Advent and Christmas Eve 2013
Year A

It is time to gather Advent! This post contains five children’s sermons: one for each Sunday in Advent and one for Christmas Eve (or Day).* My church uses the children’s time to light the Advent Wreath candles. But this year, my Advent/Christmas sermon series goes beyond lighting the candles by having the children also assemble the crèche week by week. We will stage our medium-sized, tabletop, durable yet lovely, crèche in the front of the sanctuary near the Advent candles. We are still discussing the exact details of placement as we want it viewable by all, yet easily accessible by the children.

Here is my outline–which you can certainly adjust to fit your children, crèche, and worship style:
1st Sunday, December 1: The Candle of Home/The Stable: Psalm 122:1-9; Isaiah 2:1-5
2nd Sunday, December 8: The Candle of Community/The Cattle: Isaiah 11:1-10
3rd Sunday, December 15: The Candle of Joy/The figure of Mary: Luke 1:47-55
4th Sunday, December 22: The Candle of Faith/The figure of Joseph: Matthew 1:18-25
Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24 or Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25: The Christ Candle/The Angels, the Shepherds, the sheep, and the figure of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14

The full sermons are below. I am still fine tuning them, but as time is getting close, I wanted to go ahead and post. Please forgive typos (or better yet, let me know!) and check back each week to see if I’ve done any improvement editing.

In addition to using these sermons, you can modify this handout Gathering Advent for your members to use at home as they gather Advent. It is a Word document; honestly, I’m not sure how it will open on your computer! If you have problems please email me (chancelsteps  @ gmail dot com). Once you open it, add your Church’s name, and share with your congregation; feel free to edit as needed but please retain my web address at the bottom of the pages as the source. Also note, the two added verses for Away in a Manger…courtesy of my friends Jill Stewart, Lynn Dorough, and Susan Windham. (They are blessed with poetic talents!)

So, from here, seek out an appropriate crèche and invite your church children to gather Advent and prepare for the great mystery of Christmas.

May you gather home, community, joy, and faith this Advent Season,
Frances

*You can find two other Advent/Christmas sermon series in this blog: traditional here and different here.

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Astable1st Sunday, December 1, 2013
The Candle of Home
The Stable
lectionary focus: Psalm 122:1-9; Isaiah 2:1-5

Welcome to Advent!

Today we start the Season of Advent. During this time, we spend four weeks preparing ourselves for the great mystery of Christmas. Each of the four Sundays during Advent we will light another candle on the wreath. And this year, as the candles help us move closer to Christmas, we will also add to our crèche, which is the church word for manger scene.

Our Bible story today calls us to think about the House of the Lord. Usually those words make us think about the church. But during Advent, we think about where Jesus was born. He was not born in a hospital or a fancy castle or even a house. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. A stable is a barn; it’s where animals sleep. A stable is not where people stay. But this is the message: Jesus is at home everywhere. Certainly, if He can be at home in a lowly stable, then He can be at home here in our church; He can be at home in our houses; He can be at home in the Shelter downtown; and He can be at home in our hearts.

Today we will begin our crèche by placing the stable. As you each get to hold it and pass it around, notice how simple it looks and how strong it feels. And now Zachary will place it on our table.

Today we also light the First Candle in our Advent Wreath. People have different names for the different candles. We will call this First Candle, the Candle of Home. With our stable and our candle, we remember that Jesus is at home everywhere, and we are at home in the love of Jesus. While Zachary now lights the First Candle, the Candle of Home, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We place the stable
and light this candle
on the First Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare our hearts
as loving homes
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the first verse of Away in a Manger.
(Away in a manger, No crib for His bed. The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.)

May you be at Home in this Advent Season.

*

Aanimals2nd Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Candle of Community
The Cattle
lectionary focus: Isaiah 11:1-10

Welcome to the Second Sunday in Advent!

Last Sunday, we lit the First Candle, the Candle of Home. We also placed the stable, Jesus’s first home, in our crèche. We thought about the House of the Lord and how Jesus is at home everywhere…and we are home with the love of Jesus.

Our Bible story today is an Old Testament prophecy describing the Advent of the Lord. We hear that when He comes, the wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard with the goat, and the young cows and the lions and the bears and the snakes will all be friends and eat together. Nowwwww, we know lots of these animals aren’t really friends. Most often, if they eat together…it’s because one is eating the other. But again, this is the message: with Jesus, all kinds of people can be friends. People who act differently and think differently and look differently can sit and eat together at Jesus’s Holy table. Jesus invites us to live together in this one world, invites us to live together in a peaceful Community.

Last Sunday, we placed the stable. And what would be a stable without animals? As you each get to hold and pass around the cows and sheep and goats, think about all the different kinds of people that make up the community of our church, the community of our neighborhoods, the community of our world. And now Miles and Theo will place the animals in the stable.

Today we light the Second Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Community. With our stable and our animals and our two candles, we remember that Jesus is our home and He is the foundation of peace in our communities near, far, and everywhere. While Miles and Theo light the two candles, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We add the animals to the stable
and light this candle
on the Second Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with peaceful Community
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the second verse of Away in a Manger.
(The cattle are lowing; the Baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes. I love Thee, Lord Jesus look down from the sky and stay by my side ‘til morning is nigh.)

May you be in Community this Advent Season.

**

AMary3rd Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Candle of Joy
The figure of Mary
lectionary focus: Luke 1:47-55

Welcome!

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent. On the first Sunday, we lit the Candle of Home and placed the stable in our crèche. Last Sunday, we lit the Candle of Community and placed the animals in the stable. We have talked about Home and Community and how Jesus is at home everywhere and He calls us at to be at home throughout communities around the world.

Our Bible story today is the beautiful song of Mary, Jesus’s mother. When the Angel comes to tell Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus…which honestly is kind of an overwhelming announcement…what a big job!…Mary says, Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord! Mary means, Yes! She is overjoyed to do this big job! And she sings a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. Be sure to listen later in the service when the choir sings this song…and feel the joy that Mary tells…the joy of being with Jesus.

This Sunday, we add the figure of Mary to our crèche. As you each get to hold her and pass her around, look at how the artist that created this figure painted her face to captured her feeling of joy. And now Liza will place the figure of Mary in our crèche.

Today we light the Third Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Joy. We think of Mary’s joy; we think of our joy; we think of the Joy of the Word…the Joy that is coming…the Joy that is Jesus. And now Liza will light the three candles: the Candle of Home, the Candle of Community, and the Candle of Joy. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We joyfully add Mary
and light this candle
on the Third Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with Yes!
to prepare with Joy
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the another verse of Away in a Manger.
(His mother, dear Mary, looks down as He sleeps. Her Yes to the angel, a promise she keeps. She treasures this moment, her heart full of joy. She’s holding God’s Son, her sweet baby boy.)

May you find Joy in this Advent Season.

***

Ajoseph4th Sunday, December 22, 2013
The Candle of Faith
The figure of Joseph
lectionary focus: Matthew 1:18-25

Welcome!

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Today is the final Sunday in the Season of Advent. We began the Season by lighting the Candle of Home and placing the stable in our crèche. We then added the animals to the stable and lit the Second Candle of Advent, the Candle of Community. Last Sunday, we placed the figure of Mary and lit the Candle of Joy. We have gathered a loving home, a peaceful community, and joy for the world.

This Sunday, our Bible story introduces us to Joseph. Joseph has the important roles of being Mary’s husband and being Jesus’s daddy here on earth. Last week, we noted that when Mary heard the news about being Jesus’s mother, she sang a song of YES! But this week, we hear Joseph honestly admit his fear of having such a big job. But an angel tells him Fear not! that God has chosen him for this job. And so Joseph boldly steps out in faith to take on this awesome responsibility.

We now add the figure of Joseph to our crèche. As you each get to hold him and pass him around, think about his courage, his willingness, his faith to do what God called him to do. And now Kia will place the figure of Joseph in our crèche.

Today we light the Fourth Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Faith. We remember Joseph and his faith; we envision our faith, ready to do what God calls us to do. And now Kia will light the four candles: the Candle of Home, the Candle of Community, the Candle of Joy, and the Candle of Faith. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We boldly place Joseph
and light this candle
on the Fourth Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with Faith
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing another verse of Away in a Manger.
(As Joseph considers the problems they face, He surely is frightened and seeking God’s grace. The angel says ‘Fear not, the Child is foretold!’ So faithfully Joseph goes forth strong and bold.)

May you be strengthened with Faith in this Advent Season.

****

Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24, 2013
or Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25, 2013
The Christ Candle
The Angels, the Shepherds, the sheep, and the figure of Jesus
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14

Here we are.
The Season of Advent is over. The Season of Christmas begins tonight.
We have spent the past four weeks lighting candles and assembling our crèche. Finn will now re-light the four blue Advent candles. We started with the Candle of Home and placed our stable. We then lit the Candle of Community and added the animals to our crèche. On the Third Sunday, we joyfully sang with Mary, adding her figure to the crèche and lighting the Candle of Joy. And this past Sunday, we listened as Joseph overcome his fear by faith, and we placed the figure of Joseph boldly beside Mary in the crèche and lit the Candle of Faith. But not all of our candles are lit and our crèche is not complete.

Tonight our Bible story gives us the glorious details of what happened on that night long ago in Bethlehem. Jesus is born!  Mary, still joyful, wraps him in a blanket and lays him in a manger. Just over the hill, shepherds watching their flocks are greeted by angels bringing good news of great joy. The shepherds and the sheep come with haste to meet Baby Jesus. And all are amazed.

We, too, are once again amazed by the story of Jesus. Tonight we fill our crèche with sheep and shepherds and angels and the Baby Jesus. As you each get to hold the figures and pass them around, consider how you fit into the story of Jesus. Over the Advent Season, as we assembled our crèche, we gathered stories of faith and joy and community and home. Our crèche reminds us that we are part of these stories, too. We fit into these stories, too. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. But we always have room in our hearts. Our hearts can be filled with faith and joy and community and home and Jesus. With Jesus there is always room. And now will you each find room for your figure in the crèche?

Finn will now light the Christ Candle. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We fill the crèche.
We light the Christ Candle.
Jesus is born.
There is always room.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us in singing the final 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.)

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

4 Advent Sermons and 1 Christmas Eve Sermon 2012 Year C

Click here for the 2015 Advent and Christmas Series…

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!