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Advent Week 3: The Anticipation of Joy

By December 14, 2020April 23rd, 2022History & Holidays8 min read


Enjoy one another’s company, but set a time before everyone leaves to walk through this Advent Candle-Lighting Liturgy together. Before you get started, light the Hope and Peace

candles (first two purple candles). Take 10–15 minutes, and walk through this Advent home worship service together.



“The Christmas season is generally a happy time, isn’t it? The lights, the
colors, the music, the food, the gifts, and the Christmas movies just put us in
a good mood. Most of us would say some of our best memories are Christmas memories. Spending time with the people we love and enjoying the good things life has to offer just tend to give us joy.

But for some, Christmas is not a happy season for everyone. In fact, Christmas can be the loneliest season for some people. All the lights and music and parties remind them of someone they don’t have with them anymore—a spouse,
a child, a mother or father, a dear friend. Christmas, for them, may have

some good memories, but mostly it makes them sad.

Joy is a theme that runs through the whole Bible. Sometimes joy is connected to beauty or with kids or to a glass of wine. But the Bible also talks about a kind of joy not based on happy circumstances but based on the anticipation of God’s promises. In tonight’s Candle-Lighting Liturgy, together we’re going to consider the anticipation of joy in God’s promises.

In the Bible, often the first move toward joy is repentance. Repentance is simply giving up on trying to find joy our own way, and trusting that the life God wants for us is so much better than we want for ourselves. Let’s start there.”



“Let’s all read the following prayer of repentance and joy from Psalm 51 together. Make these ancient words the prayer of your heart tonight.”


“Have mercy on us, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out our transgressions.

Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity, and cleanse us from our sins!

Purge us with hyssop, and we shall be clean; wash us, and we shall be whiter than snow.

Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

Cast us not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from us.

Restore to us the joy of Your salvation, and uphold us with a willing spirit.”



“Now let’s create a few moments of silence. Palms up. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Exhale. See yourself offering anything that’s troubling you to God.”

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


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


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

Child (if available):

“Don’t be so sad;
the joy of the Lord
is your strength.”
(from Nehemiah 8:10)


“Tonight’s reading comes to us from Psalm 16:1–11.
Let’s listen for the anticipation of joy in the coming Messiah.

‘Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from You.”

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

I have set the Lord always before me;
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let Your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;

in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’

This is the Word of God.”


“Thanks be to God!”


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


“Tonight _____________ is going to light our third Advent candle. So far we have lit the Hope and Peace candles. Tonight we light the Joy candle (third purple candle).”

What does joy look like for you in this season?” (Pause for responses.)


“This passage also comes from John 15:11–15. Listen to what Jesus has to say about how joy works.

‘These things I have spoken to you,
that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.

You are My friends if you do what I command you.

No longer do I call you servants,
for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,

for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.’

This is the Word of God.”


“Thanks be to God!”



“Okay, we’re going to sing “Joy to the World” together. You know the rules: sing badly if you must, but sing you must! This is a safe space for loud singing, so don’t hold back. Let’s sing.”



Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room, And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.



“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 to God in prayer now.”

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


Choose one person from your gathering for the final reading.


“The purpose of this reading is to turn our hearts from what has happened and awaken our hopes for what is to come.

These are the words of Jesus in Revelation 21:1–5: ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,

for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people,

and God Himself will be with them as their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”’

This is the Word of the Lord.”


“Thanks be to God forever.”


Host: “Let’s pray.” (Pray a closing prayer.)



“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.”


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


Downloadable Resources

Advent Week 3 – Daily Advent Worksheet

Advent Week 3 – Journal

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