You can use this Advent wreath lighting liturgy provided you note the following copyright: “Permission to use this liturgy granted by the author, the Rev. Quentin Chin.”
This liturgy uses the Revised Common Lectionary for Year C and is designed for 2015. Rather than designating the candles in the traditional manner: hope, peace, joy, and love (I can’t remember the order any more as I moved away from those designations several years ago), the candles mark events.
Jeremiah 33:14-16 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
One: We look east to catch a glimpse of dawn’s light, a hopeful sign that the end of injustice and oppression is coming. We remember Rosa Parks did not give up her seat on December 1, 1955. Her protest was the glimmer of new light offering hope and promising liberation to those who were oppressed. (light one candle)
Many: Open our eyes, O God, to see light piercing the darkness in our community, both here and afar. May this light be a sign for us that love’s transforming power will bring hope where there is none. May it liberate those who are burdened by oppression imposed by political dictates or economic deprivation. Let it be a sign to all who struggle against the odds because of race, gender, sexual identity, physical ability that the gospel’s promise, God’s peace and justice rooted in love, is theirs as well. Amen.
Malachi 3:1-4 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight– indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
One: A prophet long ago called to us to prepare for the coming of God. On December 10, 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. Though his prophetic voice is still, his writings remind us that “human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of people willing to be co-workers with God.” (light two candles)
Many: God of justice and mercy, open our eyes that we might see prophets among us. Unstop our ears that we might hear their voices. Help us to remember and live brother Martin’s admonishment to strive unceasingly and courageously so all will have their daily bread and can achieve their fullest potential so we might live together in the beloved community. Amen.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.
One: The time is approaching when all will be renewed in God’s love. On December 15, 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality was not a mental illness. By their decision, they affirmed the gospel’s foundation that love is the root from which peace and justice grow. (light three candles)
Many: Loving and compassionate God, thank you for loving us as we are. Encourage us to love each other as fully as you. May we not fear love’s power. Rather may we remember that love’s power chases out fear. Grant that we will let love transform us as we will use love to transform this world. Amen.
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.”
One: Our wait is almost over. Mary tells us that all shall be lifted up, even those with physical challenges. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It meant that no one should be barred or denied access because of their physical abilities. (light four candles)
Many: All people, O God, should have access to the richness and fullness of life. The prophet said that the “hills will be made low and the rough places a plain and the crooked path will be made straight.” Let us resolve to strive for that day when all can come into your presence unimpeded. May we work to lower the hills and smooth out the rough places and make the path straight so all may dwell in shalom. Amen.
Psalm 96:1-13 O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
One: From Apollo 8, the world saw the earth as a blue orb floating in space. That photo told us that we are one people living together on one planet in the vastness of space. May our voices blend in harmony with creation to sing a new song to God’s glory..(Light all the candles and the Christ candle)
Many: God of the heavens, our waiting is over and our eyes have opened unto a new day. The light of hope chases the dark. The voices of prophets prod us to action. May we continue the work of justice and peace you began when you came to live among us in Jesus. Let us not falter to pursue shalom and in so doing make hope’s light burn brightly for all the world. You are our righteousness. Amen.
Note: The quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr. comes from Letter from Birmingham City Jail