Advent Worship Liturgies

November 1, 2022 by Im Hyon Jung

Several years ago I visited Cambodia during Advent.  When I arrived, the scorching mid-December sun surprised me because I came from Wisconsin in the United States, which is often a winter wonderland.

I was excited to attend a Street Children’s Annual Christmas Program.  As the children performed the Christmas story in Cambodian, I felt like I was hearing it for the first time.  I encountered the hope, peace, joy, and love of Advent and the coming of Emmanuel in a new and transformative way.

Advent invites Christians around the world to prepare to encounter God.  Regardless of where we live — whether in a hot climate or a cold one — God comes to us.  As you light the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love in the weeks to come, prayerfully seek to encounter God in new and special ways this Advent season.

First Sunday of Advent: Encounter Hope

Speak: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Ps. 122:1, NRSV).
Light the first candle, the candle of hope.
Read:  Psalm 122, Isaiah 2:1-5, and Matthew 24:36-44
Proclaim:  The house of the Lord is a holy, sacred, and safe space — a sanctuary. As Christians, we long to gather in the Lord’s house, whether it’s a church building, a tent, an open field, or online. To rest in God’s presence is a wonderful gift.
Reflect:  Where is your holy, sacred, and safe space to encounter God? Where do you feel closest to God?  What can you do to help those longing for a holy, sacred, and safe space to find it?  
Pray:  God of hope, help us to trust, watch, and be ready to encounter you in new places and in unexpected ways. Thank you for being our place of refuge and safety.  Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent: Encounter Peace

Speak:  “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things” (Ps. 72:18).
Light the second candle, the candle of peace.
Read:  Isaiah 11:1-10 and Romans 15:4-13
Proclaim:  The universe is full of God’s wondrous acts, both seen and unseen.  God’s most wondrous act was revealed in Jesus Christ, who was born in a stable and overcame the power of sin and death to redeem us. True peace comes when we recognize God’s wondrous acts and experience God’s redeeming love.
Reflect:  What helps you to recognize God’s wondrous acts in the world around you so that you can encounter true peace in your life?
Pray: Lord of all power, majesty, and holiness, thank you for your wondrous deeds.  You came as the Prince of Peace to embrace us with your redeeming love.  May we always recognize you as the source of all peace.

Third Sunday of Advent: Encounter Joy

Speak:  “Jesus said, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them’” (Matt. 11:4-5).
Light the third candle, the candle of joy.
Read: Isaiah 35:1-10, Luke 1:46-55, and Matthew 11:2-11
Proclaim:  “Are you the Messiah?” John’s disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 11. Jesus answered by instructing them to look around and see the miracles he was performing.
Reflect: What are you longing for? Look around. Where do you see the Messiah working in your life?  How have you been touched by his blessings and filled with his joy this week?  
Pray:  God of joy, in you we encounter healing, wholeness, restoration, and new life. Teach us to recognize your work around us and proclaim with joy, “Yes. Jesus is the One!” Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Encounter Love

Speak:  “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1:18).
Light the fourth candle, the candle of love
Read:  Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25
Proclaim:  “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16, KJV).  This long-awaited Son comes in the form of love incarnate.
Reflect: How are you preparing for the hope, peace, joy, and love incarnate that the Messiah brings?  
Pray:  God of love, the day is near.  Help us to prepare for the coming of Christ, and may our hearts rejoice in him!  Amen.

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day: Encounter Emmanuel

Speak:  “A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Light the Christ candle.
Read:  Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20
Proclaim: O Come, Emmanuel. Today, the baby is born for us. His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, Messiah, Jesus-Savior!  Joy to the world! Our hearts are filled with hope, peace, joy, and love!
Reflect:  How are you going to share the good news of Christ’s birth with others?  
Pray:  O Emmanuel, you come to us as a baby and bring with you the gift of new life. Help us as we share this good news with the world.  Amen.

— Rev. Im Hyon Jung is Director of International Relations, Asia, and Global Programs Manager of Upper Room Ministries. She is an elder in The United Methodist Church.

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