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First Sunday of Advent – December 1
One: Lighting one candle ends darkness. We await the dawn of a new day and the promise of true peace and justice. A reading from Isaiah 2:1-5.
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
Congregational Response: O God, you are the light of the world. We enter Advent with anticipation and look forward to the day of your shalom. May this candle remind us that even a small act of love can change the world. Amen.
Second Sunday of Advent – December 8
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
One: We light two candles to remember that though dawn may come, shalom is not possible without justice rooted in God’s steadfast love. A reading from Isaiah 11:1-10:
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Congregational Response: O God, source of love, purveyor of justice, may your love inform our lives that we might live rooted in your justice, compassion, and mercy. Grant that by our living, our community will know your peace. Amen.
Third Sunday of Advent – December 15
Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55
One: We lit the first candle anticipating a new day. We lit the second candle as a reminder that a new day, the reign of God, bursts from the seeds of Almighty’s radical, inclusive love to become a community rooted in God’s justice. Today, we light the third candle to affirm that the reign of God reverses and overturns all that we know of the world in which we live now. A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 1:46b-55
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Congregational Response: Merciful and Holy God, though filled with excitement, we anticipate the coming of a new day, your reign of peace and justice, with caution and hesitation. We wonder, “What demands will fall upon us when God’s peace on earth arrives?” Prepare our hearts and minds for a new reality. Strengthen us to move forward boldly. Give us courage to abide in our new community rooted in justice so all may live fully in your love. Amen.
Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 22
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
One: The deep rich colors of dawn are fading, the day of shalom is close at hand. We yearn for the promise of love that comes with the God’s reign of justice and peace. The light of these candles signals the hope for what is to come. Restore to us your favor, that we might be saved. Give us life that is really life. We call out your name, Emmanuel, God with us. A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 1:18-25:
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. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Congregational Response: Gracious and generous God, may we never forget that you came to dwell among us in Jesus. You shared our common lot, you suffered, and you died that we might know the transforming power of love. May we live out love that transforms our community to be a place of your shalom. Amen.
Christmas Eve – December 24
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
One: God appeared in the flesh and brought salvation to all, a light to all nations. We have come filled with hope that our community rooted in true justice will know God’s peace. May we renounce impiety and worldly passions and live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly. Grant that the love which came down this night will stir us to love family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. May that love animate us to live love in all that we do. A reading from Isaiah 9:2-7:
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;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For 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.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Congregational Response: O God, we sing a new song. We sing a song of hope that recounts the transforming power of your love. Increase in us the power of your Holy Spirit to live our lives by the teachings of Jesus. May we enter this new day renewed to further our ministries of healing and hope the name of the Christ Jesus. Amen.