Several years ago, I wrote these liturgies for lighting the candles around the Advent wreath. If you are searching for words to use either in a worship setting or for your own devotional time, I am happy to offer these for consideration.
Lighting the First Candle: Hope
Call to Worship
Lift up your eyes and your hearts. From where does your hope come?
Our hope is in God, who made heaven and earth; our hope is in Jesus Christ, for whose birth we wait.
What keeps you from hoping? Bring it to this time of worship and offer it to God.
We come to worship to renew our hope. We come seeking a light for our way through the darkness.
(Pause while the first Advent candle of Hope is lit.)
People of God, may this candle serve as a reminder of the hope that is within us.
Though it is one single flame, it is enough. We press on through our fears with the Spirit as our guide and source of courage.
God of Hope, you light our path. When we feel drained, defeated, and downtrodden, you tend to our souls. When our bodies and hearts are chilled by personal winters, you warm us by your Spirit’s fire. As we begin this time of Advent waiting, instill in us a hope that carries us through troubled times, as we anticipate the new heaven and new earth that is ever manifesting in our world. It is in the name of the one for whom we wait and in whom we hope that we pray. Amen.
Lighting the Second Advent Candle: Peace
Call to Worship
This season of waiting continues. We have come together to encourage each other as we prepare.
We’ve already reminded each other to hope. We eagerly anticipate the arrival of Emmanuel, God With Us.
One hope stirring within us is for peace. Our world cries out for peace in so many ways.
We wonder where peace is to be found in troubled times. We look to the Prince of Peace to answer our anxiety.
(Pause while the second Advent candle of Peace is lit)
The light grows brighter in this darkening season. Unto us a child is to be born who will show us the way of peace.
May this assurance quiet our restless souls. May this time of worship make gentle our racing hearts.
You say to us, “Be still and know that I am God,” yet it is hard to be still during this busy season. The many demands of our lives press upon us, and we are weary and wary of your promise of peace. Reassure us in this time together of your presence, and by it soothe our troubled minds. Carry us forward by your promise that all manner of things shall be well. Amen.
Lighting the Third Advent Candle: Joy
Call to Worship
We have called one another to hope, and we have sought peace with one another. Now comes a reminder to rejoice!
We look forward to a time when God will bring joy to the world. For so many reasons, we need this joy ourselves.
The demands and reminders of this season may make joy difficult. This is why we come together to worship.
We as a worshipping community are called to point out joy to one another. We set our lights on a lampstand for all to see.
(Pause while the third Advent candle of Joy is lit)
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I will say rejoice! The Lord, our source of joy, is near!
May our lives and spirits be brightened by this worship moment, and by those with whom we praise God’s name!
Gracious God, we confess that we’re not always able to detect reasons for joy that you have placed all around us. We are not always open to the rejoicing to which you have called us. This time of year is often as much of a reminder of endless tasks and lost relationships as it is an invitation to sing and to be merry. Help us to join together with joyful hearts in this time and place. Fill our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy for the wonderful things that you have done and will do for us. Amen.
Lighting the Fourth Advent Candle: Love
Call to Worship
Our journey through Advent is nearing its close. We’ve joined in hope, taught peace, and rejoiced with one another.
Led by the Spirit, we have remembered some important truths revealed by the One whose birth we seek.
The flame symbolizing love is the latest to mark our journey, and it is perhaps the brightest of all.
Love seems to be the simplest, and yet is the most difficult. We take this moment to be reminded yet again.
(Pause while the fourth Advent candle of Love is lit)
The light of love illuminates the path ahead of us. It is the path that the One soon to be born will bid us follow.
May God embolden our hearts to love others as God first loved us. May this time of worship strengthen us for this call.
Ever-present God, we rejoice in the love and faithfulness that you have shown to us. We are aware of your invitation not only to receive this gift, but also to share it with others. We confess that it is hard to love some of the people who cross our life’s path. We see the risk involved and are not sure how best to fulfill your calling. O God, grant us discerning hearts and generous spirits, that we may know the best way forward, ever guided by your light. Amen.
Lighting the Four Advent Candles and the Christ Candle
Call to Worship
A light has dawned, and it fills the earth. God is doing a new thing; it is good news for us.
We who keep parts of ourselves in the shadows are invited into the light; to embrace the new life God shows us.
Go to Bethlehem to see the embodiment of God’s grace. Go to experience God’s love in human form.
We must go in order to see for ourselves. The light of the world beckons to us.
(Pause as the Advent candles and Christ candle are lit.)
Rejoice and be glad for the possibilities of this good news!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all whom God favors!
We are startled and surprised by the many ways you appear to us, gracious God. As we tend to our mundane tasks, the sudden brilliance of your revealing light awakens us to your presence. We rejoice in the good news you share with us: unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Like the shepherds, may we hasten to see the ways you are making all things new, and may we be inspired to rejoice and proclaim as we re-enter a world yearning to hear words of hope. Amen.