The Names of Jesus

Banners and Services for the Advent Season

I created these Advent banners for First Christian Reformed Church (now Water Street Church) in Guelph, Ontario, with a focus on the names of Christ: Week 1—Jesus, Light of the World; Week 2—Jesus the Shepherd; Week 3—Jesus, Prince of Peace; Week 4—Christ the King; Christmas Day—Jesus Immanuel. The layers of symbols in the banners are summarized below. These banners signify that what starts with Christ’s birth only comes to fulfillment through his death and resurrection. For our Easter service the banners for Christ the King and Jesus, Prince of Peace are reversed to form a cross.

Also found below are the outlines of the Advent worship series. Consider adapting the banner descriptions for each week’s Advent readings.

Rev. David A. Tigchelaar provided the sermon notes.

Advent Banner Descriptions

Week 1: Jesus, Light of the World

Jesus, the light of the world, spoke into darkness. This banner visually alludes to the song “This Little Light of Mine” and is meant to represent followers of Christ today who themselves represent Christ. The flame also reminds us of the Holy Spirit. I chose the background color to gently suggest God’s hands—hands we can’t see, know, or even imagine—holding the world! The globe centers the geographic location of the church but should remind the viewer that the whole world is called by and belongs to our God.

Week 2: Jesus the Shepherd

The central image of the shepherd connects Jesus’ coming to the Old Testament and conveys several truths about his identity as the shepherd of his church and our identity as members of the church. First, the banner alludes to welcome and calling. The shepherd’s hand is extended, but not visible, because we are the welcoming hands of Christ. The shepherd hook, while often described as a punishing tool, was actually meant for gentle guidance. The crook is deliberately bent outward so as not to hurt little lamb’s necks. This is a tool to guide, to direct, and to call us to the shepherd. The baby-blue background was meant to remind us of the outdoors, of sheep on the hills with the shepherds. During this week of Advent, our church explored how the Old Testament points toward the New and considered where we are present during our time of waiting in a post-resurrection world.

Week 3: Jesus, Prince of Peace

A prince points to a king. A prince speaks of hope for more. Our Prince of Peace talks about a world restored and new. Thus, this banner has symbols of new life: Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5). The banner also includes a coronet, a symbol of royalty. The work of renewal comes through the Trinity, the work of God, Christ, and the Spirit. The Trinity is symbolized by the trefoil: the three and the one. The green symbolizes growth. The light-colored tree symbolizes newness.

Week 4: Christ the King

The banner for week four of Advent symbolizes the fulfillment of the previous week’s promises, yet in circular fashion, it also points directly to the week to come. The king’s crown has sharp edges to represent the nails and the sword piercing Christ on the cross. The red on those spikes point to the gruesome crucifixion. The purple jewels indicate royalty and wealth, and it connects visually to the manger banner hung on Christmas. The blue background represents the sky behind the crosses. The viewer’s position is on the hill of Golgotha, but looking up, toward heaven.

Christ’s earthly crown was not made of gold and jewels, but of thorns—brutal, sharp, and causing real harm and pain. Those thorns also appear on the banner. Woven into the thorns is the ichthys, representing Christians. This is not a bumper-sticker ichthys, though; choosing to follow Christ isn’t a bumper-sticker promise. It’s a hard life with sharp edges. There is joy and salvation, but no promise of an easy road to follow. This banner juxtaposes the richness of God’s kingdom with the wealth of the cross and the sheer enormity of salvation’s cost.

Christmas Day: Immanuel

The manger is deliberately empty. Christ is no longer a baby. The promise started here, but it does not stay in this space. Jesus’s earthly life had a humble beginning, but not a simple one. God had put such marvelous plans in place that there was a guiding star leading to young Jesus. Whether scientifically understood or not, that star points to the awesome omniscience of our God! The purple in the banner alludes to royalty. The starlight alludes to God’s guidance and ties back to the candle used in the first week.


All of these banners and their symbolism also point beyond Advent—directly to the season of Lent, Good Friday, and Easter.

At Christmas, the prince banner precedes the king banner, but when hung during the season leading up to and including Easter, the banners are reversed: now the prince banner is after the king banner (see p. 25). Hung this way, these two banners together form a cross, reminding Christ-followers that we are children of the King and called to mission. We are branches of the vine. In this arrangement, the thorns on the king banner become the vine on the prince banner. The dead wood of the king banner is renewed and reborn in the growing life depicted on the prince banner. Likewise, we are growing, doing, and being—in and through Christ’s work on the cross!

In our church, on Easter each individual adds a flower to vases placed beneath these two banners. This gesture symbolizes the many kingdom workers being called from many places. The flowers represent us. The flowers are freely and individually given, and collectively they create a colorful, vibrant, and chaotic mess before the cross, just as we do. Like us, they direct the light back to God, the source of glory and of our salvation.

Advent Worship Series: The Names of Jesus

Week 1

Jesus, Light of the World

Welcome and Announcements


Come, Worship Our Lord

Call to Worship: Psalm 27:1

Song: “God of Mercy, God of Grace” Lyte, LUYH 934

God’s Greeting

Song of Praise: “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Is Come” (st. 1–2, 4–5) Glass, LUYH 103

Advent Reading

Song: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Wesley, LUYH 56, GtG 82, SSS 64


We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

Confession/Assurance: Psalm 27

Song of Assurance: “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Sky” Wesley, LUYH 667, GtG 662

Prayers of the People



God Speaks through God’s Word

Scripture: John 8:12–30

Message: “I Am the Light of the World”

Sermon Notes

  • How has the life of Christ affected our world?
  • What was the setting for this interchange between Jesus and the Sadducees?
  • What did the Feast of the Tabernacles commemorate?
  • How is the setting important in understanding the announcement of Christ in verse 12?
  • What is Jesus saying when he introduces himself in this way?
  • Light gives life: We will survive if we have shelter, food and water. But how is it that the light of Christ gives life?
  • Light reveals: Christ’s light reveals truth, and the essential truth we must know is that without the light of Christ, we are enslaved by sin.
  • Light guides: “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (v. 12).
  • Light banishes fear

Responding to the Word

Song of Response: “O Splendor of God’s Glory” (st. 1–3) Ambrose of Milan, LUYH 374, GtG 666

Reading: Lamentations 3:21–26

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love

we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in

him, to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Song: “O Splendor of God’s Glory” (st. 4) Ambrose of Milan, LUYH 374, GtG 666

The Lord’s Supper

Live and Serve in God’s Blessing

God’s Blessing

Doxology: “Shine, Jesus, Shine” Kendrick, GtG 192, SSS 102


Week 2

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Come, Worship Our Lord

Call to Worship: Psalm 80:1–3

Song: “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” Kethe, LUYH 1, GtG 385, SSS 416

God’s Greeting

Song of Praise: “How Sweet the Name of Jesus” (st. 1, 3–5) Newton, LUYH 453, SSS 285

Advent Reading—Christ Is the Good Shepherd

Song: “O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock” Morgan, LUYH 64


We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

Confession: Isaiah 53:6

“O Lord, Hear My Prayer” (st. 1) Taizé, LUYH 462, GtG 471, SSS 311

Assurance: Luke 15:1–7

“O Lord, Hear My Prayer” (st. 2) Taizé, LUYH 462, GtG 471, SSS 311


God Speaks Through God’s Word

Scripture: John 10:11–21

Message: “I Am the Good Shepherd”

Sermon Notes

I am sure that you can think of many Bible passages that use shepherding (tending a flock) as a metaphor for what God does for us. When Jesus said “I am the good shepherd,” he clearly is drawing his listeners’ hearts and minds to Old Testament passages such as Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd . . .”) or Psalm 100 (“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”).

David and Moses, two of the fathers of Israel, were very familiar with shepherds’ work. These two men give the people of Israel a glimpse of what a good shepherd will do. Ezekiel 34 depicts how some other shepherds of Israel cared for their flock—not well!

Questions to consider:

  • How does Christ exemplify a good shepherd?
  • “I know my sheep,” Jesus says in John 10:14. How does God know you? What comfort does that bring?
  • Jesus also says, “My sheep know me.” How does God reveal himself through creation? How has God revealed himself to you through God’s Word?

There is one more way we see Christ as the good shepherd: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:11, 15, 18). In Advent, we see the beginning of Christ’s emptying through the incarnation. This emptying begins at Christ’s birth and culminates in his death.

  • What encouragement do you have knowing that Jesus is our good shepherd?
  • What comfort or challenge does this give you as you seek to follow the Good Shepherd’s lead?

Response to the Word

Songs of Response

Choir: “Gentle Shepherd” Gaither

“Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” Thrupp, Lyte, LUYH 330, GtG 187, SSS 538

Congregational Prayer

Offering/Offertory: “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Baker, LUYH 824, GtG 802, SSS 359


Live and Serve in God’s Blessing

God’s Blessing

Doxology: “Song of Hope” Schutmaat, LUYH 941, GtG 765, SSS 721


Week 3

Jesus, Prince of Peace

Come, Worship Our Lord

Call to Worship: Psalm 85:8–13

Song: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (st. 1–2) Wesley, LUYH 80, GtG 119, SSS 94

God’s Greeting

Song of Praise: “All Earth Is Waiting” Vaquero, LUYH 57, SSS 63

Advent Reading—Jesus: The Prince of Peace

Song: “My Soul in Stillness Waits” Haugen, LUYH 63, GtG 89, SSS 75


We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

[During this time we shared our laments for the world’s brokenness, then our longing and vision for the future restoration of the world, before we entered a time of prayer. Following the prayer we heard God’s words of assurance.]


God Speaks through God’s Word

Scripture: Isaiah 9:6–7; John 14:27; John 16:33

Message: “Prince of Peace”

Sermon Notes

Isaiah’s prophecy of a coming child included the description that he would be the “Prince of Peace.” As we think about all the conflict in our world more than two thousand years after the birth of Christ, do you ever get discouraged that our world hasn’t realized more peace? Allow your heart to feel the sorrow of a broken world.

In what ways do you experience fractures in the peace God intended for God’s world? I listed four ways we experience these fractures. Because of sin, we experience a lack of peace:

  • within ourselves
  • with others
  • with creation
  • with God

Provide some examples of each kind of brokenness.

In various parts of Isaiah’s prophecy God addresses how each of these fractures will be healed by the longed-for Messiah. We know that there is an “already” and a “not yet” to this prophecy. How can we experience the peace God intends for humanity?

We are called to discipline our minds. How is your mind shaped by news, entertainment, and other parts of this broken world? Do you ever experience despair? How can the voice of God speak to the voices in our head to bring us through these times of despair?

Thinking and doing go hand in hand. How can you turn faithful thoughts into right actions that show God is moving you to obedience? How does thinking about God’s greatness and goodness help us experience peace in the midst of life’s troubles?


Response to the Word

Song of Response: “Hark, the Glad Sound!” Doddridge, LUYH 60

Congregational Prayer

Offering/Offertory: “Lord, Make Us Servants of Your Peace” Francis of Assisi, Quinn, LUYH 904

Live and Serve in God’s Blessing

God’s Blessing

Doxology: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (st. 3) Wesley, LUYH 80, GtG 119, SSS 94


Week 4

Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Come, Worship our Lord

Call to Worship: Psalm 72

Opening Song: “Joy to the World” (st. 1, 2, 4) Watts, LUYH 92, GtG 134, SSS 94

God’s Greeting

Advent Reading—Jesus: King of Kings

Song: “Soon and Very Soon” Crouch, LUYH 482, GtG 384, SSS 357

We Are Renewed in God’s Grace


Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (st. 1, 4) Neale, LUYH 61, GtG 88, SSS 73


Assurance of Christ’s Return

Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (st. 6, 7) Neale, LUYH 61, GtG 88, SSS 73

Sunday School Program

“Mary’s Little Boy-Child” Hairston, SWM 101

“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” Thomerson, LUYH 730, GtG 377, SSS 352

“We Three Kings” Hopkins, GtG 151, SSS 107

God Speaks through God’s Word

Scripture: Matthew 2:1–12; Colossians 1:15–23

Message: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”

Sermon Notes

  • Descriptions of Jesus Christ as “king of the Jews” bookend the gospel of Matthew. At the beginning of Matthew, Magi are looking for “the one born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). At the end of Matthew, soldiers place a sign on Jesus’ cross reading: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37). How does the rule of God differ from the rule of Herod?
  • How do the birth, life, and death of Christ point to the kind of rule Christ will bring?
  • How does the claim that Christ is King shape the way we live? Think of the phrase carpe diem—“seize the day.” How does the rule of God affect how we use time?
  • We’ve sung the song “We Three Kings,” but those kings were most likely astrologers, not rulers. The Old Testament would have placed these gift givers outside the “tent” of God’s people. How does the fact that these were some of Christ’s first visitors reveal grace?

Response to the Word

Song of Response: “Christ Is the King and He Shall Reign” PsH 359

Congregational Prayer

Offering/Offertory: “Lord, You Were Rich Beyond All Splendor” Houghton, LUYH 75

Live and Serve in God’s Blessing

God’s Blessing: Summary of Isaiah 60

Doxology:Jesus Shall Reign” (st. 1, 3, 5) Watts, LUYH 219, GtG 265, SSS 209


Roberta Vriesema is a wife and mother born and raised in Bangladesh to parents serving with World Renew. She is a healthcare representative for the Christian Labour Association of Canada and serves as a worship team member at Water Street Church in Guelph, Ontario. She is also a member of both the Canada Ministries Board and the Council of Delegates for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Reformed Worship 149 © September 2023, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.