An Advent Journey

A Series with Advent Candle Readings

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

In October 2005, four ministers in the Christian Reformed Church met in Strathroy, Ontario, to come up with ideas for an Advent series: Michael Borgert, First Christian Reformed Church, Muskegon, Michigan; Martin Dam, York Christian Reformed Church, Caledonia, Ontario; Andrew de Gelder, East Christian Reformed Church, Strathroy; and Ken VanderHorst, Imlay City Christian Reformed Church, Michigan. Together we came up with the ideas presented in this series.

Throughout the Advent journey, we read Isaiah 9:6-8 as well as various texts from the gospel of John.

The series proper is finished at the fourth Sunday in Advent—however, we’ve also included a litany used on Christmas Day. Leaving Christmas open gives preachers flexibility to use whatever else they might wish to plan for that day—for example, preaching texts from the lectionary.

First Sunday in Advent

Theme: “Come”

Advent Candle Reading

In ancient times, God’s people were waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah.

The Lord had promised that the day would come when he would fulfill the gracious promise he had made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The gospels record how that promised Messiah came as a baby. That child grew to be a man who was fully human and yet divine—Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs!

We light this first Advent candle in celebration of the Christ who came. We look forward to that wonderful day when he will come again. Let us pray to our Lord who has come and is coming again:

God in heaven, how great it is that we can come to this place and celebrate the Jesus who came and who surely will come again. May this be a season filled with joy and meaning for us who put our hope in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—who was and who is and who is to come. It is in his name that we pray. Amen.

Song Suggestion: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” PsH 329, SFL 122

Service of the Word

Name: Wonderful Counselor

Scripture Text: John 15:26-27

Sermon Notes
When Jesus came into the world, he provided divine counsel to those around. Perfect in every way, eyewitnesses recorded that he was indeed “wonderful” (Mark 21:15; Luke 13:17). Christ is no longer physically present on the earth as he once was, but he sent the Spirit to the church as a testimony. In the church today, we are inheritors of that testimony, and we also inherit the mandate to pass it on.

Second Sunday in Advent

Theme: “Prepare”

Advent Candle Reading

The Scriptures record how even in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to redeem his fallen people through the coming of the Christ.

Then came the voice from one in the desert, saying: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

As we come closer to Christmas, our days are filled with preparations. Let us also prepare our hearts to celebrate again the coming of the Savior.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has redeemed his people!

We light this second Advent candle as we prepare to mark again the coming of the one who would save his people from their sins. Let us pray to our Lord who has come and is coming again:

Heavenly Father, how great and awesome you are. From the moment that we first failed, you already began to set in motion your amazing plan to gather us back into fellowship with you. Even now, our Lord Jesus is preparing for his return. May we be ready not only for this festive season, but also to meet our Lord and Savior whenever he comes. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Song Suggestion: “O Lord, How Shall I Meet You” PH 11, PsH 331, TH 156

Service of the Word

Name: Mighty God

Scripture Text: John 20:26-28

Sermon Notes
From the earliest of days, human beings have known that God is mighty like no other (Deut. 10:17). Who would have thought that mighty God would come down in the form of a helpless baby in a low-income family? Yet as he walked with his followers, stood on trial, and finally showed his power over sin and death, people would come to know that this human being was indeed “mighty God.”

Third Sunday in Advent

Theme: “Rejoice”

Advent Candle Reading

The Christian life is full of ordinary things that together work for the extraordinary purpose of glorifying God. We rejoice in the promises of God and yet at times our hearts are sad.

Even David, Israel’s great king, at times was downcast and disturbed within his soul.

Despite the problems we face in this world, we are called to be a people of rejoicing. The Scriptures call us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

Why so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God!

We light this third Advent candle with rejoicing, knowing that Christ will surely come again and make all things new. Let us pray to the Lord who has come and is coming again.

Gracious God, our world is often filled with disappointment, pain, and sadness. In this dark place, may your light shine. Ignite in our hearts this day a desire to rejoice in you and your promises that will surely come to pass. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Song Suggestion: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” CH 273, PH 28, PsH 355, TH 207, WR 198

Service of the Word

Name: Everlasting Father

Scripture Text: John 10:37-38

Sermon Notes
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that God is three divine Persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. John’s recorded words of Jesus show us how close the identification is between the Father and the Son. In Christ we can truly see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the one who is the “everlasting Father,” God in the flesh.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Theme: “Glory”

Advent Candle Reading

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

The whole earth is full of his glory!

When Christ was born, the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.

We light this fourth Advent candle in celebration of our glorious God who sent his precious son, revealing his glory as never before. Let us pray to our Lord who has come and is coming again.

Our heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. In our worship today, in our hearts, in all that we do, may we glorify you. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Song Suggestion: “Angels from the Realms of Glory” CH 259, PH 22, PsH 354, TH 218, WR 189

Service of the Word

Name: Prince of Peace

Scripture Text: John 14:27

Sermon Notes
“Peace” received much attention as a mantra during the flower power movement of the 1960s. Yet the world seems as torn by conflict and violence as ever. People searched for peace in the time of Jesus also—so much so that many were prepared to put up with the Pax Romana of the hated Roman Empire. Christ did not come to bring a superficial form of peace or a political peace enforced by soldiers—in fact, he warned his followers to expect conflict (Matt. 10:34). Yet an authentic biblical view of Christ recognizes that peace is his ultimate goal: peace that passes understanding now in the life of the believer (Col. 3:15; Phil. 4:7), and total freedom from conflict in the New Creation (Rev. 21:1-5).

Christmas Day

Advent Candle Reading

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

Let earth receive her king!

Let every heart prepare him room!

And heaven and nature sing!

This Christmas morning, we light this white candle as a visible sign that Jesus Christ is at the center of our lives and at the heart of this church.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Let us pray to our Lord who has come and is coming again:
Our heavenly Father, what an indescribable gift is your Son Jesus. Through him you have given us eternal life. Today, with hearts full of gratitude and joy, we celebrate and give you thanks. Accept our offering of praise, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Song Suggestion: “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come” CH 270, PH 40, PsH 337, SFL 137, TH 195, WR 179

Rev. Andrew de Gelder has been the pastor at Palmerston (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church since 2010. He has degrees from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Andrew and his wife, Kerry-Ann, love living in Palmerston with their children and feel privileged to be part of such a dynamic family of faith.

Reformed Worship 81 © September 2006 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.