Tag Archives: hope

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

*****

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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Advent and Christmas Eve 2011

This post contains 5 sermons covering the 4 Sundays of Advent and Christmas Eve. In the language of Godly Play, we need time to get ready for the mystery of Christmas. My church uses the children’s sermon time to light the Advent Wreath candles: the children gather on the chancel steps; we review the previous candle’s theme; 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. My church also uses new church members/families to light the candles each week, and the family with the newest baby lights the candles on Christmas Eve. I hope that you will be able to adapt these sermons to your own worship time.

1st Sunday in Advent–Nov 27–Hope–Mark 13:24-37
2nd Sunday in Advent–Dec 4–Peace–2 Peter 3:8-15a
3rd Sunday in Advent–Dec 11–Love–John 1:6-8, 19-28
4th Sunday in Advent–Dec 18–Joy–Luke 1:26-38
Christmas Eve–Dec 24–Christ is Born!–Luke 2:1-20

1st Sunday in Advent–November 27, 2011
The Candle of Hope
lectionary focus: Mark 13:24-37

Welcome to the First Sunday in Advent!

Advent is the church season when we prepare ourselves for the joyful mystery of Christmas. As this takes time, we have four Sundays in Advent. Each week we will talk about how to prepare our hearts for Christmas and we will light one more candle in our Advent wreath. This Sunday we will be lighting the first candle which is the Candle of Hope.

Our Bible Story today tells us to be prepared for God, to expect God, to be filled with hope. Now, I have always thought hope meant there was something that we wanted but we might not get it: I hope it snows; I hope I have fun today. I thought hope was a whiny feeling that was also a bit scary…but boy, was I wrong! The word hope means that bubbly, fizzy, crazy excitement we have about knowing we are getting something! It is the anticipation, the expectation for something good that we know will happen. We have a saying in our culture about “having butterflies in our stomach,” when we are so excited it feels like butterflies are flapping around inside us! There is a great poet who said, “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul.” (Emily Dickinson, 254)

Wow! Hope is not just having one Advent candle; hope is having a whole sky of fireworks lighting up our hearts! God’s hope is excitement because it will happen. This is how God wants us to be ready for Christmas. This is how God wants us to be ready to live each day. God wants us to be filled with hope like we are going to burst with excitement about carrying the love and joy of Christmas in our hearts every day.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Today Miles and his grandfather will light our candle.)
While we now light the first candle of Advent, will you repeat after me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says 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 prepare
with a bursting hope
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.)

2nd Sunday in Advent–December 4, 2011
The Candle of Peace
lectionary focus: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

Today is the Second Sunday in Advent!

Last Sunday, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We talked about hope being that excited expectation of what we know will happen; we are bursting with hope for the mystery of Christmas.

When I was a child, the place where I lived did not get much snow. When I grew-up, I lived in western North Carolina and we got lots of snow. My first winter there, we got 18 inches in one day! I was amazed to learn that snow is very quiet. Now, when it rains, we can hear it. The rain beats on the roof; the rain hits the windows; the rain rattles in the downspouts; and don’t forget the sound of thunder! But when it snows, it is silent. You can’t tell it is happening unless you are watching it. We would sit and watch the snow fall and fall and fall and never hear it. And then, when everything is covered in snow, everything else gets quiet, too. I was amazed that something so silent could change everything so completely.

Our candle for the second Sunday in Advent is the Candle of Peace. We prepare ourselves for Christmas by having Peace. Like snow, peace comes quietly. We do not hear it, and yet when there is peace, it changes everything, making the world get quiet and look so beautiful. Our Bible story today calls us to wait for God with peace. Yes, we are to be filled to bursting with hope, but we are to be changed with peace. As we prepare ourselves for the joyful mystery of Christmas, we carry an excited hope wrapped in a beautiful blanket of quiet peace.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: This Sunday our new members, the Atwood family, will light our candles.)
While we now light the first and second candles of Advent, will you repeat after 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 prepare
with a quiet peace
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.)

3rd Sunday in Advent–December 11, 2011
The Candle of Love
lectionary focus: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Today we will be lighting the third candle of Advent! Just one more Sunday before Christmas! So far we have lit the first candle of Advent, the Candle of Hope, and the second candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace. Today we will light the third candle, the Candle of Love. In our Bible story today, we hear of Jesus’s cousin, John. John was just a bit older than Jesus. When they were grown up, John went out in the world to prepare the people for the preaching of Jesus–to tell people that Jesus was coming to save the world. The people listened to John and then asked him, “What are we supposed to do? How are we to get ready for Jesus?” I think it is perfect that on this Sunday with the story of John that we have the Candle of Love. Because love is the answer. Love is what God wants us to do. And love is doing. Love is not just a feeling, it is an action. We do love by helping and sharing and laughing to show our feelings of love to God and to each other.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Today the three Lindseys will light our three candles.)
While we now light the first, second, and third candles of Advent, will you repeat after 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 prepare
with a loving heart
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.)

4th Sunday in Advent–December 18, 2011
The Candle of Joy
lectionary focus: Luke 1:26-38

Welcome! Today we light the last of the Advent candles…our preparation is almost over. We have lit the Candles of Hope, and Peace, and Love. Today we will light the Candle of Joy. Ah, joy! It seems funny to prepare for Christmas with joy as joy is what happens on Christmas. And preparing for something is supposed to be work. And work is supposed to be hard…not joyful and fun? In our Bible story today, we hear about Mary learning that she will be the mother of Jesus. Being a mother is a lot of work. I would think Mary would be a little scared and worried about all the work she was going to have to do. But Mary responds with excitement. She is bursting with hope, yet wrapped in peace, and filled with love that she will get to do this great work. Mary is joyful to do this great work: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord!” Each of us should do our work with such joy. And I don’t mean just the fun things we do to prepare for Christmas or work here at church; I mean our chores around the house and our work at school. God calls each of us to do all sorts of work–and some of it is hard work–but if we respond with joy then it doesn’t seem like work at all. When we prepare ourselves by carrying hope, and peace, and love, and joy…we are ready to serve God in the way He calls us to make the world a more beautiful place.

(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.)
While we now light the first, second, third, and fourth candles of Advent, will you repeat after 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 prepare
with joy
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.)

Christmas Eve–December 24, 2011
The Christ Candle–Christ is Born!
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas!

We began our Advent season a long time ago, four weeks ago. We have talked about Advent being the season to prepare for the joyful mystery of Christmas, the season of waiting for Christmas. In sign language, the sign for waiting is THIS…your hands in front of you and wiggling your fingers. Wait. Can you do that with me?

As we waited for Christmas, we lit the four candles of Advent. Tonight we have the Garcia family with Jon and Maria and Grace and new baby Anna to help us light the candles. First they will relight the four Advent candles. We remember the first Candle of Hope–we are bursting with a knowing hope; we remember the second Candle of Peace–we are quietly changed by peace; we remember the third Candle of Love–we are prepared to do love; we remember the fourth Candle of Joy–we work with joy. I think we are prepared for Christmas!

But wait (sign wait)! What about tonight’s candle? The white candle is called the Christ Candle. In the Bible stories of the birth of Jesus, one of my favorite parts is the shepherds. Those guys were out on a regular night, doing their regular job, watching the sheep. The Bible tells us that in the middle of this regular work night, the angels filled the skies singing about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds were afraid! But the angels told them to Fear Not! That the Jesus was born and the world was filled with hope and peace and love and joy. The Bible tells us that after the angels left the shepherds, the shepherds looked at one another and went with haste to meet the Baby Jesus. The shepherds did not wait. The shepherds hurried. They hurried to meet the joy of the world. The sign language sign for hurry is THIS moving your hands as the letter H up and down. Notice how much it looks like wait. Notice how easy it is to move from waiting to hurrying. And so tonight we end our wait and hurry to the mystery of Christmas, hurry to meet the Baby Jesus. And so the Garcia family will now hurry and light the Christ Candle. And as they do, will you repeat after me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Christ Candle.
We end our Advent waiting.
We are prepared
for the mystery of Christmas.
We hurry to welcome the Baby Jesus.
Alleluia
Alleluia
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.)

We are not Christians alone. My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
Thank you for visiting my blog.
I’d love to hear how you have used these sermons.
Merry Christmas!
And a Peaceful New Year!