Advent Wreath Lighting Devotion 2009
by Rev. Debi Tyree
"Come Lord Jesus. Come to brighten every corner of the world."
Advent is the season in the Christian year when we hear and participate in the time of waiting for the birth of the Messiah, and we look with hope for the second coming of Christ. It is a time of intentional prayer for the light of Christ to fill the darkest corners of our world. We hear the voice of God in scripture. We hear the voices of God's people around the earth as we pray together for the brilliant light of Christ's love to warm the hearts and lives of humankind.
In worship we use the colors purple and blue as visual reminders of the season. One of the primary symbols of the season has become the Advent Wreath. The wreath itself is a symbol of life without end. The lighting of a candle each week marks our journey through the four weeks of Advent. In 2009, Advent begins on November 29 and culminates with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The Wreath and Litany
Advent Wreaths take many forms, depending on your worship space and creativity. In many settings, the wreath is a simple circle made from fresh evergreens. Often there is someone in a faith community who is interested in creating the wreath. Encourage artists within your community to be creative with the natural materials found in your geographical area, as well as other materials such as wood or clay. Always be aware of safety and ensure that the materials are not close to the candle flames.
The United Methodist Book of Worship suggests that all four candles be purple with a larger white candle in the center. Is there someone in your community who could make the candles? In some settings, artists choose to place white candles within purple candleholders. This is especially effective in settings where there is a possibility of the candle being blown out by a breeze during worship.
Consider various ways of leading the litany in your worship. Perhaps a different lay person or family in your church could lead the devotion each week. Are there youth or children who could help by reading scripture or lighting the candles? One person could lead the entire devotion or one person could read the scripture, another read the devotion, and a third lead the closing litany and song. In Advent 2009, the lectionary focus is the book of Luke. The Advent Wreath Lighting Devotions provided here use one of the other lections each week as the scripture focus.
The Music for the Advent Wreath Lighting
Advent I-IV: Halle, Hallelujah! (Global Praise 3: 21)
"Halle, Hallelujah" should be sung with minimal accompaniment. Consider adding a single drum strike on the strong beats of each measure. A single finger cymbal strike could be played on the beat under the held notes (measure 2, 4, and 8, beat 4.) As you move through the four weeks of Advent add a bit more rhythmic interest by filling in with simple drum patterns or adding a light shaker. The accompaniment can build over the four weeks of Advent. If you think the congregation would feel more comfortable supported by hearing the melody line, ask a flute, violin, or recorder player to play the melody as you sing. A light flute stop/patch on the keyboard could also be played.
Christmas Eve/Day: Glory to God (Global Praise 2: 90)
Consider using this several times during worship. It can be sung as a unison melody prior to the reading of the scripture lesson and then sung in canon as the response to the reading. If you prefer a celebrative end to worship on Christmas Eve/Day, sing it "out into the world" as a response to the benediction.
A handbell/hand chime accompaniment is easily created by randomly ringing the C-E-G bells throughout the song (any octave.) The bells could be spaced around the worship space. Add visual impact by stapling lengths of gold and white ribbon through the handles of the handbells.
Don't have handbells? No problem! Randomly ring any bells or wind chimes that you may have. Search your keyboard for a bell patch that is light in sound and add that in as well. The goal is to add in the celebrative sounds of Christmas and Christ's birth! Continue to use this throughout Christmastide as a response to scripture, benedictions, the pardon of sins, or any time of joy in worship.
Other sites to visit in your preparation for Advent are:
PDF: Portable Document File. To read and print PDF files, you must get the free Adobe ® Reader and install it on your computer.
Download Help: If a PDF file is not loading correctly, try this: right-click on the link (with Macintosh, hold "Control" and click); from the pop-up menu, select "save target as, save object as," or "save link as"; download ("save") it to your computer.
Date posted: Nov 13, 2009