Church of England Diocese of Ely Outwell

Advent material

Advent material from Common Worship, Times and Seasons

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement:

Every eye shall now behold him robed in dreadful majesty.

(Charles Wesley)

The Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for Advent meditation. The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation, rather than penitence, although the character of the season is easily coloured by an analogy with Lent. The anticipation of Christmas under commercial pressure has also made it harder to sustain the appropriate sense of alert watchfulness, but the fundamental Advent prayer remains ‘Maranatha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16.22). Church decorations are simple and spare, and purple is the traditional liturgical colour. In the northern hemisphere, the Advent season falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas. The lighting of candles on an Advent wreath was imported into Britain from northern Europe in the nineteenth century, and is now a common practice. The Moravian custom of the Christingle has similarly enjoyed great success in Britain since the latter part of the twentieth century, with the encouragement of the Children’s Society; Christingle services may take place before or after Christmas. The Third Sunday of Advent was observed in medieval times as a splash of colour in the restrained atmosphere of Advent (Gaudete or ‘Rose Sunday’), and the last days of Advent were marked by the sequence of Great ‘O’ Antiphons, which continue to inspire modern Advent hymns and meditations.

Intercessions

In joyful expectation of his coming to our aid we pray to Jesus.

Come to your Church as Lord and judge.

We pray for …

Help us to live in the light of your coming and give us a longing for your kingdom.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to your world as King of the nations.

We pray for …

Before you rulers will stand in silence.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to the suffering as Saviour and comforter.

We pray for …

Break into our lives, where we struggle with sickness and distress,

and set us free to serve you for ever.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Come to us as shepherd and guardian of our souls.

We remember …

Give us with all the faithful departed a share in your victory over evil and death.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Come from heaven, Lord Jesus, with power and great glory.

Lift us up to meet you, that with [N and] all your saints and angels

we may live and reign with you in your new creation.

Maranatha:

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Silence is kept.

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay; give new courage to your people,

who trust in your love. By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your kingdom

on earth as in heaven, where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit,

one God for ever and ever. Amen.

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath has four red or blue candles in a ring around a white or gold candle. Alternatively, there may be three purple candles, reflecting the liturgical colour for Advent, with a pink candle for the Third Sunday, when rose-pink vestments are traditionally worn. The first candle is lit on Advent Sunday; additional ones are lit, one on each Sunday, and the white or gold one on Christmas Day.

The new candle each week may appropriately be lit during the Prayers of Penitence. In this case the material entitled ‘Prayers of Penitence at the Advent Wreath’ is used. Alternatively, the candles may be lit after the Gospel Reading, before the Peace, or after Communion, where the prayer(s) used at the lighting becomes a natural Post-Communion prayer. All five candles may appropriately be alight during services through the Christmas season.

There are several traditions about the meaning or theme of each candle. The scheme that accords best with the Common Worship Principal Service Lectionary is:

Advent 1

The Patriarchs

Advent 2

The Prophets

Advent 3

John the Baptist

Advent 4

The Virgin Mary

Christmas Day

The Christ

Each of the four Sundays then reminds us of those who prepared for the coming of Christ. ‘The Patriarchs’ can naturally focus on Abraham, our father in faith, and David, the ancestor in whose city Jesus was born. ‘The Prophets’ gives an opportunity to reflect on the way the birth of the Messiah was ‘foretold’. John, who proclaimed the Saviour, and Mary, who bore him in her womb, complete the picture.

The prayers below reflect these four themes. The second, third and fourth prayers in each case are written with children in mind, and the third is to be said by the congregation together. Only one prayer need be used on any occasion, though the second and third fit well together in each case.

Prayers to use each week as you light a candle.

Advent 1

God of Abraham and Sarah, and all the patriarchs of old, you are our Father too.

Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of David.

Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth to make our hearts ready for your Holy

Spirit to make his home among us. We ask this through Jesus Christ,

the light who is coming into the world.

Amen.

Lord Jesus, light of the world, born in David’s city of Bethlehem,

born like him to be a king: be born in our hearts at Christmas,

be King of our lives today. Amen.

People of God: awake! The day is coming soon when you shall see God face to face.

Remember the ways and the works of God. God calls you out of darkness

to walk in the light of his coming. You are God’s children.

Lord, make us one as we walk with Christ today and for ever. Amen.

Advent 2

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, just and true: to you be praise and glory for ever.

Of old you spoke by the mouth of your prophets, but in our days you speak through

your Son, whom you have appointed the heir of all things.

Grant us, your people, to walk in his light, that we may be found ready and watching

when he comes again in glory and judgement; for you are our light and our salvation.

Blessed be God for ever.

Lord Jesus, light of the world, the prophets said you would bring peace

and save your people in trouble. Give peace in our hearts at Christmas

and show all the world God’s love. Amen.

People of God: be glad! Your God delights in you, giving you joy for sadness

and turning the dark to light. Be strong in hope therefore; for your God comes to save.

You are God’s children.

Lord, make us one in the love of Christ today and for ever. Amen.

Advent 3

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, just and true: to you be praise and glory for ever.

Your prophet John the Baptist was witness to the truth as a burning and shining light.

May we your servants rejoice in his light, and so be led to witness to him

who is the Lord of our coming kingdom, Jesus our Saviour and King of the ages.

Blessed be God for ever.

Lord Jesus, light of the world, John told the people to prepare, for you were very

near. As Christmas grows closer day by day, help us to be ready to welcome you

now. Amen.

People of God: return! You are called to be God’s own.

From the mountains announce the good news.

God comes in justice and peace, to all who follow his ways. You are God’s children.

Lord, make us one in the peace of Christ today and for ever. Amen.

Advent 4

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, merciful and gentle: to you be praise and glory for

ever. Your light has shone in our darkened world through the child-bearing of blessed

Mary; grant that we who have seen your glory may daily be renewed in your image

and prepared like her for the coming of your Son, who is the Lord and Saviour of all.

Blessed be God for ever.

Lord Jesus, light of the world, blessed is Gabriel, who brought good news;

blessed is Mary, your mother and ours. Bless your Church preparing for Christmas;

and bless us your children, who long for your coming. Amen.

People of God: prepare! God, above all, maker of all, is one with us in Christ.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

God, the mighty God, bends down in love to earth. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

God with us, God beside us, comes soon to the world he has made. Maranatha!

Come, Lord Jesus!

We are God’s children, we seek the coming Christ. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!