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Advent Week 1: The Thrill of Hope

by Stephen Posey

Advent Week 1: The Thrill of Hope

CANDLE-LIGHTING LITURGY

Enjoy yourselves when you gather. Eat. Talk. Laugh. Play. Just be sure to set a time before everyone leaves to take 10-15 minutes to walk through this Advent Candle-Lighting Liturgy together. You’ll read a Psalm together, have a couple of people read scriptures for the group, light a candle, sing a song, and pray together. This guide will walk you through each step.

01 | READ OVERVIEW

Host:

“If you wanted to describe a feeling of anticipation of a future that is better than the present, what kinds of words would you use?

(Pause for answers.)

Hope is not optional for healthy humans. We need hope to survive. Without hope, we’re stuck in our circumstances and can’t see our way out of the darkness.

Tonight each of us is putting hope in something. It could be a new relationship status, something we want to purchase, or someplace we want
to be. But true hope is different than this. Biblical hope is not about getting new things. Biblical hope is about a Person (Jesus) who makes us new. Real hope is a new heart with Jesus at the center bringing us new wisdom, a new community, and new life.

Tonight, we’re going to explore that kind of hope together in Scripture, prayer, and worship. Let’s begin.”


02 | READ A PSALM TOGETHER

Host:

“We’ll start by reading the following selections from Psalm 42 aloud together. Let’s read slowly, and let these ancient words be the prayer of our hearts tonight:

Participants:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,

while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God;

For I shall again praise Him,

My salvation and my God.


03 | CREATE SILENCE

Host:

“Now let’s create a few moments of silence. Palms up. Eyes closed. Breathe deeply. Exhale. For the next few moments, see yourself offering anything that’s troubling you up to God. Be being filled with the Spirit of God. Let Him fill your imagination with hope of a better future with Jesus.”

(Take 1–3 minutes. Break the silence with a short prayer about hope to conclude this section.)


04 | READ SCRIPTURE

Choose a child (if available) and another reader for this section.

Host:

“_________& _________ will be reading our next passages of Scripture tonight.”

Child (if available):

“The eyes of God are on the ones who honor Him, who find their hope

in His eternal love.”

(from Psalm 33:18)


Reader:

“This beautiful prophecy from Isaiah reminds us of the hope God’s people found in expressing their deep longing for their messiah to come:

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.

You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For the yoke of his burden and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.’

This is the Word of God.”


Participants:

“Thanks be to God!”


05 | LIGHT THE CANDLE

Choose one person (a child if available) to light the first candle (purple) and someone to read.

Host:

“Tonight _____________ is going to light our first Advent candle. This is the hope candle. The light of this fire represents the spark of hope.

What does this hope represent for you tonight?” (Pause for responses.)

Reader:

“These verses tell us what happened
when the light of hope invaded our world through Jesus.

One of Jesus’ closest friends poetically described it like this in John 1:9–14.

‘The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own,
and His own people
did not receive Him.

But to all who did receive Him,
who believed in His name,
He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood
nor of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us,
and we have seen His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.’

This is the Word of God.”

Participants:

“Thanks be to God!”

06 | SING A SONG

Host:

“Let’s sing an old, beautiful Christmas carol. Sing badly if you must, but sing you must! This is a safe space for loud singing, so sing loudly!”

O HOLY NIGHT

Participants:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born. O night,
O holy night, O night divine.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born! O night,
O holy night, O night divine.

07 | PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER

Host:

“Let’s take a moment to pray for one another. These don’t need to be long, eloquent prayers. But let’s lift one another up by name before God in prayer.”

(Ask for prayer requests, and allow time for everyone to pray who wants to pray.)

08 | CONSIDER THE FUTURE

Choose one person from your gathering for the final reading.

Host:

“______ will be doing our final Scripture reading tonight. This one comes to us from the book of Revelation.”

Reader:

“The purpose of this reading is to turn our hearts from what has happened in the coming of Jesus and awaken our hopes for what will happen at Jesus’ return.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

‘Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city;

Also, on either side of the river, the tree of life
with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be anything accursed,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and His servants will worship Him.
They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

And night will be no more.

They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’”

This is the Word of the Lord.”

Participants:

“Thanks be to God forever.”

09 | PRAY A FINAL PRAYER

Host: “Let’s pray.”

(Pray a closing prayer.)

10 | PRONOUNCE A FINAL BLESSING

Host:

“We like to dismiss our gatherings by pronouncing a blessing on all who attend. This priestly blessing is found in Numbers 6, and it has been spoken over the people of God for the last 3500 years.”

Host (or a child):

“Now may the Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Host:

“Thanks for worshipping with us tonight. We’ll see you next week.”

[END OF CANDLE-LIGHTING LITURGY]


Downloadable Resources

Advent Week 1 - Daily Advent Worksheet

Advent Week 1 - Journal

Stephen Posey

Stephen Posey is the Content Pastor at Church On The Move, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.