It’s hard to believe we’re almost to the end of Advent in our worship planning. Below are some ideas for Advent 4 (Dec. 22). As always, feel free to use and/or adapt these ideas as needed for your context. Also, if you have not done so already, introduce some Christmas carols on this Sunday. A great practice is to sing the 3rd verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as an introduction to the time of morning prayer.
Lighting of the Advent Wreath
Do not be afraid, salvation is at hand.
God is about to do a mighty thing.
Joseph’s dream of God’s promise
will soon be our reality.
God’s promised Messiah will be none other than Emmanuel,
God with us.
We light the fourth Advent candle
in hope of the coming of Emmanuel,
God in the flesh.
God’s healing of human brokenness
comes by way of God taking on human flesh.
Light the candle
Come, Lord Jesus.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.
Holy God, with expectant hearts we your people await Christ’s coming. As once he came in humility, so now may he come in glory, that he may make all things perfect in your everlasting kingdom. For he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
Go forth now having heard the good news of God in Jesus Christ. Go forth to serve God and each other. May the glory of Emmanuel, God with us, be made known in your life now and forever. Amen.
Now we are doing our annual Children’s Nativity as part of the worship service on this day so the liturgy is a bit slack. Below are some additional suggestions if your service is not as tight as ours on this day. Remember that our texts serve to bridge the gap between the hopeful waiting of Advent and the wonder of the Christmas miracle of Emmanual, God with us, coming among us.
- Canticle of Light and Darkness (United Methodist Hymnal #205)
- Canticle of Zechariah (United Methodist Hymnal #208)
- A poem:
by Madeliene L’Engle
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Begin the celebration but do so slowly. The coming of the Christ-child is a miracle marked by wonder and amazement. Resist the urge as best you can to be too boisterous this week — save some anticipation and celebration for Christmas Eve. I hope your Advent continues to be a time of blessed waiting.