Advent wreath liturgies

Here is an advent candle liturgy by Maren C. Tirabassi: “I was moved by the thought of four candles illuminating the ways human and holy touch in this season, reminding us of the simple and amazing truth of Emmanuel, God with us, we find through the stories of Hope, the places of Peace, the festivities of Joy, the incarnations of Love”.

Setting: The table upon which the wreath sits is larger this year, so that each week a few simple objects can be seen as others are named and called out by the congregation. Choosing the few objects on the table to represent so many others may be the responsibility of the pastor, a facilitated group of children, or someone each week who loves to be a part of shaping liturgy but does not like being in front and speaking.
The First Sunday in Advent — Hope
Setting: On a table, the wreath and a Bible and a couple familiar Christmas stories, such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora, Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou (or local examples)
Invitation
We come to this new season of Advent and gather around a wreath to light candles. The wreath reminds us of the circle of our human community and the lights illuminate the many ways in which we bring ourselves to the Incarnation, God’s longed-for presence among us – human and holy, Emmanuel – God with us and God coming to us.
Scripture: John 1: 1-4
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. the Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. What has come into being was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Lighting the Candle and Illuminating the Stories of Hope
Light one purple/blue candle
We light this candle for the Christmas story that shines hope on our lives.
Naming our stories of hope
The Advent season is a season of stories that bring us into the presence of God. The story of the birth of Jesus is told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, in carols that we sing, in legends as old as the first century Common Era and as new as a golden book on a grocery store shelf. And we celebrate this season of stories that give us more stories of hope and heart in book and song and movie from (name examples) We celebrate today our stories of hope – those that have traditional religious content and those that are parables for truth we find in our hearts (let people name the stories that they love)
Unison Prayer
Emmanuel, we find your story in the pages of scripture and the whispers of all our storytelling. Help us in this Advent season to become your story-tellers of hope for our time. Amen


The Second Sunday in Advent – Peace
Setting: On a table, the wreath and a Bible and a representation of the earth (small globe or picture and a couple photographs of peaceful places or a stone, a shell, a small cactus …)
Invitation
We come to the second week of the season of Advent and gather around a wreath to light candles. The wreath reminds us of the circle of our human community and the lights illuminate the many ways in which we bring ourselves to the Incarnation, God’s longed-for presence among us — human and holy, Emmanuel — God with us and God coming to us.
Scripture (Luke 2: 11-14)
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, good will to all!
Lighting the Candles and Illuminating the Places of Peace
Light one purple/blue candle and gently touch the Bible
We light this candle for the Christmas story that shines hope on our lives.
Light the second purple/blue candle
We light this candle to shine on the places that bring us peace, including this church, and the places and people that need peace this day.
Naming our places of peace
The Advent season reminds us that God chooses real places to meet us. Our hopes and fears met, not in the clouds, but in the little town of Bethlehem. We renew our peace in very real places – from a grandmother’s kitchen, to a seashore, from a decorated urban street to a snowy backyard.
Please name aloud some of the places you find peace … (let people name these aloud)
We pray for personal peace, community peace, global peace.
Please name aloud some of the places for which we pray … (let people name these aloud)
Unison Prayer
Emmanuel, we find peace in places near and far, expected and unexpected. Help us in this Advent season to pray for peace in our lives, our relationships, our communities, and our world. Amen

The Third Sunday in Advent – Joy
Setting: On a table, the wreath, a Bible and a representation of the earth (globe, shell) and symbols of holiday festivity — bows and curling ribbon or a small present, maybe a candy cane, a book of carols, a tree ornament.
Invitation
We come to the third week of the season of Advent and gather around a wreath to light candles. The wreath reminds us of the circle of our human community and the lights illuminate the many ways in which we bring ourselves to the Incarnation, God’s longed-for presence among us – human and holy, Emmanuel – God with us and God coming to us.
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-3a
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. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy.
Lighting the Candles and Illuminating the Festivities of Joy
Light one purple/blue candle and gently touch the Bible
We light this candle for the Christmas story that shines hope on our lives
Light the second purple/blue candle
We light this candle to shine on the places that bring us peace, including this church, and the places and people that need peace this day. (may name places from the past week)
Light the pink candle
We light this candle to celebrate the generosity and festivity of this season and to hold in tenderness and care feelings of loss and loneliness.
Naming our festivities of joy
The Advent season is filled with cultural symbols – trees and gifts and cards and events and special foods and customs. When we are careful to delight in them rather than taking them on as burdens, these symbolic activities bring us joy. From candy canes to hanging stockings, let us name the customs that give us joy … (invite people to name them aloud)
Unison Prayer
Emmanuel, we celebrate the true joy in so many of our human customs of this season and consecrate them to you. We acknowledge the stress that expectations put upon some of us. We hold tenderly the sadness and depression that longer nights, commercial demands, memories of loss, or simple loneliness bring. Transform the joy that each of us finds into a gift of kindness. Amen

The Fourth Sunday in Advent – Love
Setting: On a table, the wreath, a Bible and a representation of the earth, one tree ornament with tinsel, and symbols of human love. Suggestion: a pair of wedding rings borrowed from an LGBTQ couple, a photograph of a companion animal, a drawing made by a young child, a prayer shawl made by an elder.
Invitation
We come to the last week of the season of Advent and gather around a wreath to light candles. The wreath reminds us of the circle of our human community and the lights illuminate the many ways in which we bring ourselves to the Incarnation, God’s longed-for presence among us — human and holy, Emmanuel — God with us and God coming to us.
Scripture (John 1:9, 12 a, 14a)
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world … But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God … and the Word became flesh and lived among us …
Lighting the Candles and Illuminating our Incarnations of Love
Light one purple/blue candle and gently touch the Bible
We light this candle for the Christmas story that shines hope. on our lives
Light the second purple/blue candle
We light this candle to shine on places that bring us peace, including this church, and the people and places in the world that need peace this day (may name places/situations from the past week)
Light the pink candle
We light this candle to celebrate the generosity and festivity of this season and hold in tenderness and care feelings of loss and loneliness.
Light the third purple/blue candle
We light this candle to name the human loving into which Jesus Christ was born.
Naming our incarnations of love
We are the children of God. We use the Light of the World to look around us. We embrace the Word made Flesh and we have become lovers not just of things of the Spirit but of things of the flesh — of family and friends, of neighbors and strangers, of humans and creatures. We have on this table the wedding rings of (names), a photo of (name) the dog/cat/ gerbil of (name), a drawing made by (child’s name). Please say aloud, a whisper or a-silence in this interlude some of the names of those you love … (let people name names aloud or give them time to do so in silence)
Unison Prayer
Emmanuel, we celebrate love that illuminates all of our lives. We love so many around us, those who are living, those who have died, those we will meet tomorrow or next week or next year, those we may never meet. Bless each of them and keep our hearts open to the extravagance of loving that you offer us, through the Word made flesh, Jesus. Amen

(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

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This Advent wreath ceremony surprises by inviting not the lighting of a wick but the pouring of living water each week.
This has been a year of terrible fires throughout the world. We all hold in our deepest prayers those who mourn lost family and friends, those whose homes, businesses, security has been destroyed, those who have been unable to breathe clearly for weeks. We also pray for firefighters, for first responders, for those who offer shelter and comfort.
Each week includes an invitation with two possible scriptures, a children’s story (all ages) you may want to use, words for pouring and a prayer of invocation. The physical set up is the familiar wreath of evergreens, with three small blue or purple glass bowls and one that is pink, and a small pitcher. A electric string of clear tree lights surrounding the small bowls will add sparkle to the water.
Music – these verses may be used – one for each week, if you wish. This is an adaptation of an African American spiritual in public domain.

1) I’ve hope like a rainfall, I’ve got hope like a rainfall.
I’ve got hope like a rainfall in my soul.
I’ve hope like a rainfall, I’ve got hope like a rainfall.
I’ve got angels around me and I’m whole.

2) I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got peace like a river;
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got hope like a rainfall.
I’ve got angels around me and I’m whole.

3) I’ve got joy like a fountain; I’ve got joy like a fountain;
I’ve got joy like a fountain, in my soul
I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got hope like a rainfall;
I’ve got angels around me, and I’m whole.

4 I’ve got love like an ocean; I’ve got love like an ocean;
I’ve got love like an ocean, in my soul
I’ve got joy like a fountain, I’ve got peace like a river;
Touched by hope and blessed by angels, I am whole.
First Sunday in Advent – Hope
Invitation
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1
The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2
As the people of Israel hoped for water in dry times,
so they hoped for the Messiah, the one promised.
We bring our hopes to Advent – because we are thirsty for tenderness, and longing for God’s Spirit to hover over the dryness in our lives.
Long ago they thought Emmanuel would be a leader in war, a torch of freedom.
The child who was born was called living water, true vine, a door for all, bread of hope.

A story for all ages:
The very first people to start traveling to Bethlehem were the magi. They were following a star from a long distance away. Maybe they even began before Mary knew she was pregnant. If you have a crèche in your home or church, maybe you want to place the three magi and any camels in another room or a table at a distance. Because they were following a star, they could only travel at night. There is a story that there were several days with clouds in the sky and they were just stuck! They became discouraged and afraid they would be too late. A village girl approached them and said, “ Come to the well in the middle of town. Anyone can see what they hope for there. I believe you can see your star.” And they did. They looked up – no star; they looked down – the star was shining and they could plot their directions. The girl, Rachel, said, “A well is a blessing.”
Pouring: Today we pour water for the first Sunday of Advent
the Sunday of Hope. We celebrate the wells of grace
and the gentle rains that bring new growth
and quench our doubts and fears.
We wait for the Messiah who came long ago,
and who comes to us in our days. (pouring)
Prayer:
Emmanuel, God-with-us, when we leave this place help us to draw deeply on our sources of hope and grace to share with all we meet. Amen

Second Sunday in Advent – Peace
Invitation
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; and leads me beside still waters… Psalm 23: 1-3a
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22: 1-2
We need peace in our lives and in our world.
Every month we need healing,
but December can be the hardest time of year
when we need rest from busyness
and gentle words for many sorrows.

Down by the Advent riverside
we follow the prints of Peace.
And there we meet the Prince of Peace.

A story for all ages:
Sheep need water. Only if the plants they find are very moist can they get by without it and that was never true in the hills around Bethlehem. If sheep can dream it is about leaves fat with water; if young shepherds can dream, it is about wells or streams without resident bullies. A story goes that when the angels came to sing about Jesus being born in Bethlehem, one shepherd had to stay with the flock, along with the dogs who protect against wolves. An angel came down and asked this left-out shepherd whether he wanted a bright fire and warm food. “No,” was the answer. “A warmer cloak?” “No.” “Shall I sing an angel song or let you touch my wings?” “No.” “What do you want while you are waiting?” “Let there be a small safe spring in these rocks, so none of my flock will sleep thirsty.” And there was.

Pouring: Last week we poured the water of Hope,
that quenches our doubts and fears. (pouring)
This week is the Sunday of Peace,
and we celebrate still and peaceful water
and those who make it accessible in our days,
for the river of life is all of God’s children. (pouring)
Prayer: Emmanuel, God-with-us, when we leave this place help us to draw deeply on hope and drink our fill of God’s peace. Amen

Third Sunday in Advent – Joy
(if someone in the congregation has a tabletop fountain, it might be a fun addition to the advent wreath)
Invitation:
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
‘… those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ John 4:14
Advent is a time of many traditions.
God is always doing a new thing.
God offers us hope, peace, and even joy,
knowing that we live in a sad world.
And we do a new thing –
not “store” presents, but gifts of the heart
.

A story for all ages:
“Let’s borrow a donkey.” Joseph said to Mary, and that advice was something their son Jesus would remember. Nala donkey was the silliest donkey in all Nazareth. Nala would be frisky and then balk. She went too fast and then wanted to take a nap. She drank her water with so much gulping and guzzling that everybody in the city square would turn and look. But Nala made people laugh. There were soldiers all around and nobody wanted to smile, but Nala made them laugh. The census meant that there were caravans of migrants on the road, uncomfortable, hungry, tired, but Nala made them laugh. Mary was hurting and Joseph was worried, but Nala’s spitting and snorting and sneezing made them laugh. Then, when the door was almost shut in their faces at the last inn in Bethlehem, Nala twitched her ears and heehawed so loudly, the exhausted innkeeper couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit of joy and sent the new family to the stable.

Pouring: We have poured enough Hope,
to put out great fires and fears. (pouring)
We heard the Messiah say, “Peace be still,”
and knew it meant our waves. (pouring)
This week is the Sunday of Joy,
and we remember from a story about Cana
that, when Jesus asks us to pour water,
it means we are going to have a party. (pouring into the pink bowl)
Prayer:
Emmanuel, God-with-us, when we leave this place may we be hydrated with hope, bathed in peace, and willing to splash the world with joy. Amen

Fourth Sunday in Advent – Love

Invitation
And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’ Matthew 10:42
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24
This month we gather around our Advent wreath.
We remember that God’s love is a circle.
This year we have poured bowls of water
rather than lighting candles,
and this, too, is for the sake of love,
comfort for those who mourn the losses of fires,
and letting another symbol
remind us of the starlight and the straw.
We celebrate all ways people share love,
and wait for the birth of Christ in our lives
.

A story for all ages:
When a baby is born it takes a lot of water. Water heated up to make everything safe and clean, water cooled down to wash the baby before swaddling, and cold water on a cloth for a mother’s forehead. At one point Joseph poured a bucket over his head just to stay awake. Then the animals needed to be watered and the visitors needed a drink and, with all the hay out of their manger, some water needs to be nearby in case of fire. Somebody was running around with water in that Bethlehem stable long ago.
(Pull out a tray with cups of water or use a communion tray with the small glasses filled with water) Maybe it was you. Maybe it is you. (Choose an extrovert) Would you pass water to everyone who wants it? Oh, you need help? Who would like to help getting water to people? (As water is quickly passed with many helpers) Modern day love is helping everyone have water.
Pouring: We have poured a cup of Hope,
for the lips of the hopeless. (pouring)
We have poured a cup of Peace
in a world of conflict.(pouring)
We have poured a cup of Joy, —
did someone mention – hose?
is anyone afraid of splashing? (pouring)
This is the Sunday of Love
and our hearts are not as hard as flint,
so we pour love in the name of Jesus
who came long ago and comes today. (pouring)
Prayer: Emmanuel, God-with-us, long ago and always – we come to you for living water, for our world has too many fires, too many thirsty people, and a great drought of the Spirit. We welcome your coming and share your good news. Amen.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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