WONDER || Advent 2020 Series
Advent Songs 2020
Listen and worship along with us.
WONDER IN THE WAITING // PROPHET'S CANDLE
“But in those days, following that distress, “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
This is the first Sunday of Advent and today we will be lighting our first candle together. The definition of the word Advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event” and that is exactly what we’ve gathered here to do today; to acknowledge the coming arrival of Christ. If ever there was a year we needed Advent, this is the year. We hardly know how to describe the year we have lived through. We hesitate to reflect on all the mess around us in 2020. All we know is that nothing seems right, nothing seems like it used to be, nothing. We need Advent! The prophet Isaiah cried out for us, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down … To make your name known … so that nations might tremble at your presence.” So tear through the mess, O Lord, and come down to us again. We long to be your people, a people of hope.
So we light this first candle as a sign of our hope. Even in the midst of our waiting, we can wonder at who Christ is. We can hope in the promise that He can still meet us, even in the mess of our world. Hope that He still see us, though we feel we are lost in the rubble. Let this light be the guide that brings us to Emmanuel once more.
Emmanuel, You are God with us. We do believe the promise of Your coming and yet sometimes we get scared and discouraged in how hard life is. Strengthen us in our waiting, our hope is in You. O Come Emmanuel.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.
WONDER IN THE WILDERNESS // ANGEL'S CANDLE
Mark 1:1-8 NIV
‘The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Our lists are long, even in this strange mess where we live these days. And we want to do it right, we want to be safe, but we want to be able to enjoy the season. We’ve got work to do to put right what has gone wrong, to heal what is broken, and to mend relationships. The prophet Isaiah reminded us that there is work to be done. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Everything around us points to a barren wilderness. BUT when God comes in, there is ALWAYS healing to be found, but we need to make the way; we need to open the door into our lives.
So, we light this second candle as a sign of our faith that the God we worship is not far from us and that we can clear the way for that God to come and dwell with us. When everything around us seems barren, we light these candles in faith that healing can be found.
Emmanuel, You are God with us. As we wait in hope, empower us to prepare the way for Your coming. Help us to slow down so we can listen to your voice everywhere. Our hope is in You. O Come Emmanuel.
O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.
WONDER IN THE WASTELAND // SHEPHERD'S CANDLE
‘There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. ‘
We want everything to look nice: the decorations of the season, our homes with their lights and tinsel, wreaths and ribbons. We want to lighten the darkness around us, bring beauty to the ugliness that wears us down. We decorate, because it is tradition. Because it lifts our hearts. Because it makes us feel like children again. The prophet Isaiah smiled when he said, “God will give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.” When the world around us appears to be a wasteland; when we’ve never felt farther from the spirit of the season, God promises to decorate us with love and with joy.
We light this candles as a sign of our joy in the beautiful things of this season – not just the things that glitter and flash, but the deeper things, the beauty of the heart and the soul, the beauty of love shared in service and hospitality. We light this candle of joy because the Lord makes wonder in the wasteland.
Emmanuel, You are God with us. You reminds us that your heart is for those without a voice, those on the margins. Forgive us for missing the point. Restore our wonder. May we be a voice for the voiceless and may we bring the good news to the powerless. Our hope is in You. O Come Emmanuel.
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem, unto your own and rescue them! From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.
WONDER IN THE WORD // MAGI CANDLE
‘In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. ‘
We live on the brink every day. We stand on the threshold between this world and the next one. We live and move between the ordinary and divine, between the mundane and the mystery. We forget that the love we give and live is a sign of eternity, God with us, right now. God’s word invites us into the story of wonder. We’re given a chance to see beauty in the in-between and see the fingerprints of the goodness of God all around us.
The book of Luke tells us that God’s favor came to a girl, an ordinary girl. It might have been you or your daughter; it might have been the girl down the street or your grandchild. But the messenger of God came and greeted her and said, “The Lord is with you.” What a gift and a promise: Emmanuel, God is with us.
We light this candle with peace in our hearts for the promise of proximity, the nearness of God. Even when we forget to listen, to lean into that presence, God is as close as our own breath. This, in a confused and confusing world, is a peace that passes all understanding.
Emmanuel, You are God with us. It’s hard to even fathom that you came to earth to identify, understand, and redeem us all. Open our eyes to watch for the unexpected movements of your Spirit each day. Our hope is in You. O Come Emmanuel.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar! Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.
WONDER // CHRIST CANDLE
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
On this Christmas Eve we anticipate the coming light of Christ. During Advent we have WONDERED in the waiting, wilderness, wasteland, and word. By lighting a new candle each week, the brightness has accumulated, signifying our hope in the Light of the world. So tonight we light the Christ candle.
We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judea. He was the long-awaited Messiah whose coming was prophesied. The same Jesus lives today in our hearts. He deserves our highest loyalty and total commitment. In Jesus Christ our hope is fulfilled; our love is made perfect; our joy is complete; and our peace is sealed. So Come… wonder at this gift we’ve received. Come receive the light of Christ.
God with us. You are the light of the world bringing forgiveness and restoration into our darkest places. You became like us that we may become like you, full of light. We say yes to this marvelous exchange by which we are changed. Our hope is in You. O Come Emmanuel.