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CHURCH YEAR - ADVENT WREATH CEREMONY 2015 YEAR C

ADVENT 2015 YEAR C November 29 -- First Sunday

Advent marks the beginning of the Christian Year. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin verb meaning
•    “to come toward”
•    “to draw near”
•    “to approach”
During Advent, we remember and celebrate God's drawing near to us in the birth of Jesus Christ, His coming in the believer’s heart at Salvation, and His coming again in power and great glory.

Three purple candles represent PROMISE, LIGHT, and HOPE, and the pink one represents LOVE. Each Sunday we light one more candle so on the Sunday before Christmas all four candles will be lit. The white candle in the center represents Christ, the Light of the World. We will light this candle on Christmas Eve.

The first candle is called PROMISE to remind us that God promised to send His son Jesus to save us from our sin. People joyfully celebrate Christmas because God gave the world His own Son as the very first Christmas gift. God has also given the promise of Christ’s Second Coming. And so we watch, and wait, and stay alert, waiting again for the coming of Jesus. And we light a single candle in preparation for that glorious day.

[Light the first candle on the Advent wreath.]

The prophecy of Christ’s birth - Jeremiah 33:14-16.
The Gospel - Luke 21:25-36 speaks of Christ’s Second Coming.

The Alternate Reading - 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.

Psalm 25:6-10
 

Let us pray.
During this Advent season, teach us the true meaning of Christmas. Help us to be thankful for your promises to send Jesus to us. Help us to get ready in our hearts to celebrate His birthday. Thank you for sending the Savior and promising that He will return. Remind us how dark our lives would be without the light and forgiveness of Jesus brings. Help us to love and serve you so we can always walk in your light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

December 6 -- Second Sunday
Today’s prophecy is from Malachi 3:1-2 and refers to Messiah’s messenger.
Our Gospel reading from Luke 3:1-6 is the fulfillment of that prophecy.   
Alternate Readings are Luke 1:68-79 and Philippians 1:3-11.

God chose what the world would see as a “most unlikely” messenger. John was a desert wild-man dressed in animal skins and eating locusts and wild honey. John’s message was that the Christ was coming and people needed to be prepared to meet Him even though the preparation was going to disrupt their lives.

We will relight the candle of PROMISE.
[Light the first candle on the Advent wreath.]

The second candle is called the candle of LIGHT. Jesus spoke to His disciples saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”  The light of God’s love is more powerful than the darkness of sin. When people are sinful, sin darkens their hearts. When they accept  Jesus as their Savior, He comes into their hearts and brings His light.

This candle reminds us that Jesus takes away the fear of darkness of sin and gives us the light of life. Light brings joy. We can be joyful because we know God has saved us from sin. The candle of light reminds us that the light of God’s love will show in our lives when Jesus is guiding us. The Bible says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

[Light the second candle on the Advent wreath. ]

Let us pray.
    Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. As the time draws near to the date we celebrate His birth, help us to be more aware that the light of Jesus must shine through us to let the world know the good news of His gospel of eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

December 13 -- Third Sunday
The Prophecies for today are Isaiah 12:2-6 and Zephaniah 3:14-20.
The Alternate Reading Philippians 4:4-7 encourages believers to rejoice because the Lord is near.
The Gospel is Luke 3:15-18.

[Light the first two candles on the Advent wreath.]

The third candle of Advent represents LOVE. It reminds us of how much God loves each of us as John 3:16 says: “He gave His Son that whoever believes on Him would have eternal life.”  God’s love is very powerful. He doesn’t want us to fight against his love or try to ignore it. God wants us to love Him also and love others.  Jesus is near. Despite the busy-ness, the pressure, and the assault of our senses that so often passes for Christmas, we have the promise of scripture that … Jesus is near ... then we will remember to REJOICE…..and again…..REJOICE. And we will light a candle to help us remember that Jesus is near and His love is all around us.

[Light the PINK candle.]

Let us pray.
    Heavenly Father, our spirits turn in this season not only to the coming of your Son into history in the form of a baby but also to His coming in spirit. We ask you God to pour out your spirit upon all who walk in darkness. Make us instruments of your power, love, and peace. We know that you love us, and we want to love you. We want to show our love for each other every day and in this way we show our love for you. In Jesus name, Amen.

December 20 -- Fourth Sunday
The prophecy today is Micah 5:2-5, telling where Messiah would be born.
The fulfillment of that prophecy is found in Luke 2:1-7.
Alternate Readings are Psalm 80:1-7; Luke 1:39-55; and Hebrews 10:5-10.

[Light the first three candles on the Advent wreath.]

The fourth candle is the candle of HOPE to remind us of the hope of eternal life forever with the Lord. God promised that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and His mother would be a virgin. Jesus came into our world to reveal the nature of God. He was born of a woman becoming God in flesh in the likeness of man.

Advent is a joyous time for believers, a time to be thankful for God’s saving grace. We celebrate the birth of Jesus only because of His death and resurrection. Advent and Christmas point ahead to Lent and Easter. This Advent people need to hear once again that hope is possible through the constant loving redeeming work of God. Watching and waiting this season needs to be focused on the birth of Christ and also on Christ’s return.

[Light the fourth candle.]

Let us pray.
    Heavenly Father, we thank you again for the gift of your Son. Although He came as a baby, He was Messiah, your promised Savior of the world. Thank you that He came to bring light, love, and hope. Help us to be your witnesses of truth and to share the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. In Jesus name, Amen.

Christmas Eve

[On this night the lighting of the four Advent candles and the center white Christ candle takes place in the service during the reading of the Gospel lesson. Just prior to the reading, light the four Advent candles.]
[Light the Christ candle.]

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
         Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.
      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.