I’m ready for Advent — Christmas too, but Advent especially. I find that the season’s wild imagination and perilous possibilities confront my pessimism, my complacency, my worry, and they challenge: “Well then? If you perceive the world’s discontent, why not embrace a vision for and live boldly into God’s fulfillment?”
Listening for that vision, conveying its provocative call through Advent candle liturgies feels particularly cathartic for this election week in the US. Perhaps reading the liturgies will encourage you too. These are written as Calls to Worship before lighting Advent candles. Feel welcome to use and adapt these liturgies for your own context, with written attribution (in a bulletin, e.g.) to this website.
Advent 1 (November 27): Call to Worship on Isaiah 2:1-5
ONE: One day we will arrive. One day our hearts will catch sight of the mountain of the LORD.
ALL: LORD, we want to go there! O God, we long to be in your presence and walk in your ways.
ONE: Let’s go! All together, let’s make that journey to the mountain of God.
ALL: Sisters and brothers, friends and strangers, let us travel together. Surely we will get there.
ONE: Let the dream of that holy mountain give you courage and strength as we go.
ALL: What a vision: weapons of war turned into tools of harvest, and lessons of peace taught to all people.
ONE: Let us journey together in the light of the LORD!
[first Advent candle is lit]
Advent 2 (December 4): Call to Worship on Isaiah 11:1-10
ONE: Friends, I dreamt that a new shoot was growing from the stump we thought was long dead.
ALL: We dreamt too — of cows and bears grazing next to one another in the field.
ONE: In my dream there was a toddler laughing in wonder and without fear at the world around her.
ALL: In our dreams, the wolf and the lamb found shelter together in a barn; the leopard and the goat curled up next to one another in the hay.
ONE: Did you dream too of generosity and compassion clothing all people like a soft robe?
ALL: Yes, and all people recognized the evils of poverty and worked together for restoration.
ONE: Let us not shy away from our dreams but seek God through them.
[first and second Advent candles are lit]
Advent 3 (December 11): Call to Worship on Isaiah 35:1-10
ONE: Be strong! Do not fear!
ALL: The wilderness will become a place of joy. The desert will become a field for harvest.
ONE: Be strong! Do not fear!
ALL: The drought will break with a spring of water. The weeds and wild shrubs will become a highway for all God’s children.
ONE: Do not let your head or your heart or your body hold you back!
ALL: The highway will not be a place of fear but of fellowship. All will sing and dance with joy, and none will be lost.
ONE: God is coming. Do not fear!
[first three Advent candles are lit]
Advent 4 (December 18): Call to Worship on Isaiah 7:10-16
ONE: Come. The days are long, the nights are longer. If you are tired, seek a sign of the LORD God.
ALL: Can a sign make it all better?
ONE: Come. Here are honey and bread for comfort.
ALL: Waiting for God’s fulfillment can be discouraging.
ONE: Come. Here is the promise of Immanuel, God With Us.
ALL: Pay attention to the signs.
ONE: God knows we need a sign. Be prepared and welcome the signs.
[all four Advent candles are lit]
Christmas (December 25): Call to Worship on Isaiah 9:2-7
ONE: A child has been born for us!
ALL: Now we walk in God’s light, because the heavens have opened and joy has come!
ONE: The Prince of Peace has come to us!
ALL: Now the wars cease and the warriors may go home.
ONE: From this time onward, justice is established!
ALL: Now our burdens are eased, now the harvest has ripened, now righteousness is established!
ONE: The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this!
[all Advent candles and the Christmas candles are lit]