Advent Worship Liturgies

November 1, 2023 by Beth A. Richardson

Advent is a time of anticipation during which hope, peace, joy, and love guide us along a journey that culminates in the birth of the Christ child. We invite you to use these liturgies to focus your attention on and prepare your heart for Christ’s birth. Ask family and friends to join you each week as you light the candles, read scripture, pray, and sing. May your Advent be filled with restoring love and peace.

First Sunday of Advent: God’s Restoration
Read: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Today we enter Advent, a season of possibilities, a time of “not yet.” But daily lives reflect human struggles. Sometimes we are surrounded by brokenness — in our lives, among our friends and families, in our worldwide family. Hope seems a far-off vision; yet we yearn for it to fill us. When hope is lost, when people are hurting, when nations are fighting, when children are hungry, we cry together, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Ps. 80:3, NRSVUE).
Pray: Restore us, O God of life. Bring us closer to hope, the hope that lights the way on the journey to Bethlehem. During this season of waiting, may we be open to signs of your restoring love. As we light this first Advent candle, we pray for your restoration in the midst of brokenness and despair.
Sing: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Second Sunday of Advent: Preparing the Way
Read: Mark 1:1-8
Listen to “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” (Mk. 1:3).
The time is coming, John the baptizer tells us. Now is the time to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. Make the rough places smooth. Straighten the crooked places. Prepare all the paths so that hope may find its way.
Make room for the Holy One. Empty out a space in the inn, in the stable, in the corners of our hearts. Make room in the busyness, in the crowds, in our filled-up, frantic lives.
Heed the call to prepare space in our hearts and lives for Christ’s birth. As we light this second candle of Advent, let us pray for wisdom and courage to prepare ourselves to receive God’s holy child. Listen to the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness.
Pray:  As we light the second Advent candle, dear Jesus Christ, we pray that we will be a part of preparing your way.
Sing: “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Third Sunday of Advent: Rejoicing
Read: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Rejoice greatly in the Lord. Proclaim God’s greatness everywhere. For God loves justice and hates wrongdoing. God binds up the brokenhearted and comforts those who despair. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my whole being shall exult in my God” (Isa. 61:10).
Proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. Proclaim comfort to those who mourn. Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, God’s righteousness for the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable. Proclaim the coming of hope in a tiny baby, the birth of righteousness and peace for all the nations.
Pray: Spirit of God, anoint us as messengers of your good news to all people. As we light this third candle of Advent, move us to rejoice and proclaim your greatness.
Sing: “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Receiving God’s Hope
Read: Luke 1:26-55
During this season of giving, we pause to open our hearts, our minds, our spirits to receive God’s blessings. We proclaim with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:46-47).
We have witnessed God’s restoration in the midst of brokenness. We have prepared ourselves for Christ’s coming. We have proclaimed with faith the promise of God’s generous righteousness.
Pray: Now we stand with welcome hearts, O God, waiting to receive. Our spirits hunger for the coming of hope. Fill us with restoring love. Prepare us for the coming of your Holy Child. Encourage us to proclaim the good news to all people. Like Mary, we are your lowly servants. As we light this fourth candle of Advent, may we receive with Mary’s openness and trust. Prepare us to receive your gift of hope.
Sing: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

Christmas Eve/Day
Read: Isaiah 52:7-10
Christ Jesus comes to us this day. With the angels we sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (Lk. 2:14). Together we sing for joy.
A baby has been born in Bethlehem. With the shepherds, we kneel before the manger of hope. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings us good news, who announces salvation, who says to us, “Your God reigns.”
Sing out with praise! Hope has come to us: to poor and to rich, to old and young, to the infinite sky and the reaved earth, to people of all nations and all hues of color. Break forth together in singing! Jesus is born! As we light the Christ candle, let us sing with praise and joy, for Hope is born today.
Sing: “Joy to the World”

— Beth A. Richardson
Former director of prayer and worship life and dean of The Upper Room Chapel, ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church and member of the Mountain Sky Conference

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The Upper Room magazine's mission is to provide a practical way to listen to scripture, connect with believers around the world, and spend time with God each day.

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