Slowing Down

Suggestions for the Opening of Advent Worship with Candle Lighting

Because Advent can be a hectic time of year, our Creative Arts Team wanted to give worshipers the opportunity to slow down. For the four Sundays of Advent we intentionally set aside time at the beginning of each worship service to enable worshipers to take a breath, reflect, and focus on the coming Savior. It was our hope that this slow-paced opening would help us all “wait for the Lord.”

Instead of assigning a theme or name to each candle in the Advent wreath, we let everyone really see the light by watching the candles in a darkened sanctuary. With no music or reading during the candle lighting, our attention was undivided; all eyes were on the flame. This was especially effective in our windowless sanctuary.

The pattern we used weekly allowed several participants of various ages to lead worship during the season. Each week we had a different candle lighter, reader, and musician. Even shy people were willing to read, play, or light a candle, since these actions were done either from the back of the sanctuary or in the dark.

Order of Worship for Advent


Welcome and Announcements

Gathering Song

Week 1: “Here I Am to Worship” CSW 2, SWM 6

Week 2: “God, You Call Us to This Place” SNC 14

Week 3: “All Earth Is Waiting” SNC 93

Week 4: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

(with choir and congregation alternating stanzas) CH 255, PH 48, PsH 351, TH 221, WR 190

Opening Prayer

[During the prayer the lights are dimmed or turned off.]

Advent Reading (Isaiah 9:6)

[A single reader stands in the back of the sanctuary with a flashlight; the short reading gets progressively longer each week.]

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.

[Each week add an additional title: Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.]

Worship Leader: We light these candles as a sign of our waiting and hope for the coming of Christ.

[Light the Advent Candle(s) in silence.]

Quiet Meditation

[Sanctuary lights remain low or off while one verse of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154 is played. At our church, each week a different soloist played the melody, including a young piano student who played the melody with only one finger. On the final week the words were sung by a bass soloist from the back of the sanctuary.]

Advent Song

[During the musical introduction the lights are brought back up to full power and people stand to sing.]

Week 1: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Stuttgart: PsH 329, SFL 122, Hyfrydol: CH 244, PH 2, SWM 83, TH 196, WR 153

Week 2: “Awake, Awake and Greet the New Morn” SNC 91, WR 160

Week 3: “Make Way” SNC 98, SWM 86

Week 4: “Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes” PsH 335

Joy Koning serves as the worship coordinator at Third Christian Reformed Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Reformed Worship 97 © September 2010, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.