This blog post comes from the preaching gifts of The Reverend Kaye Florence of Bethel Presbyterian Church, Kingsport, Tennessee.  Kay was one of our lectionary presenters at our “Lectionarypalooza” event at Emmanuel Christian Seminary on August 8. 

Yearning for Restoration:  Preaching Isaiah in Advent


First Sunday in Advent    Isaiah 2:1-5   

Advent proposes impossibilities.  Along with Mary we ask, “How can this be?”

In God’s future holiest ground becomes highest ground.

We are preaching a dream, in what way is the dream true, in what realm?

We are in the presence of mystery, God’s own justice and peace express the depth of human longing for restoration.

Second Sunday in Advent    Isaiah 11:1-10  

Gift of Messiah will extend beyond redemption for humans to transformation of a new creation.  Julian of Norwich:  “All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”

The restoration of justice and peace come through transformation of predator and prey.

Christ redefines our notions of kingship the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God are one.


Third Sunday in Advent    Isaiah 35:1-10  

Transformations described in poetry, happy glimmers from a dream: liberation, jubilant homecomings, end of all sorrow and sighing, ransomed will come home.

Connecting old hopes with the need for new hope.

‘The Lord will come and save’ is the longing of Advent

Fourth Sunday in Advent    Isaiah 7:10-16

God gives signs and fulfills promises with steadfast faithfulness and grace.

Ambiguous signs summons trust in the promise that God is with us.

Mary – pregnant with the child of promise, Emmanuel “God with us”

Resources for Preaching Advent


Bartlett, David L. and Barbara Brown Taylor, ed. Feasting on the Word Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, Vol. 1, Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.

Brueggemann, Walter, Charles B. Cousar, Beverly R. Gaventa, and James D. Newsome, Texts for Preaching  A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV  Year A, Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995.

Johnson lll, Pegram and Edna M. Troiano, ed. The Roads from Bethlehem Christmas Literature from Writers Ancient and Modern, Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.

Lewis, C. S., and others, Watch for the Light Readings for Advent and Christmas, Maryknoll New York:  Orbis Books, 2008.

Meeks, Blair Gilmer, Season of Light and Hope Prayers and Liturgies for Advent and Christmas, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Weems, Ann, Kneeling in Bethlehem, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987.

________.  Searching for Shalom Resources for Creative Worship, Louisville Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991.

Daily Devotionals

Rohr, Richard, Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, Cincinnati:  Franciscan Media, 2008.

Richardson, Beth A., The Uncluttered Heart  Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas, Nashville:  Upper Room Books, 2009.


Advent Liturgy

During Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas Eve, the traditional Call to Worship is replaced with the lighting of the four candles of the Advent wreath.  These are the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  On Christmas Eve the Christ candle is lit.

Members of the congregation, church staff, and their families take part in the candle lighting ceremony.  This is the liturgy that accompanies the candle lighting:

 First Sunday of Advent    

Today we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. This is the candle of HOPE.
With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

May we receive God’s light as we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.”                                                  — Isaiah 9:2

Let us pray:
Lord as we look to the birth of Jesus, grant that the light of your love for us will help us to become lights in the lives of those around us. Prepare our hearts for the joy and gladness of your coming, for Jesus is our hope. Amen.

 Second Sunday of Advent         

Today we relight the candle of HOPE.
Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent. This is the candle of PEACE.
As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace.

From the prophet Isaiah:

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”                                                                                                     — Isaiah 9:6-7

From the Gospel of John:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”         — John 14:27

Let us pray:
Gracious God, Grant that we may find peace as we prepare for our Lord’s birth. May divisions in ourselves and in our families be peacefully resolved. May there be peace in our cities and in the countries of our world. Help us to see the paths of peace in our lives, and then give to us courage to follow them. Lord, let us remember that you only are the giver of lasting peace and that you are always with us. Amen.

 Third Sunday of Advent              

Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath, the candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE. Now we light the third candle of Advent. This is the candle of JOY.  As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth.

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”                                    — Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”                                                                                                                              — Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit. Amen.

 Fourth Sunday of Advent                       

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY. Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.
Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:17-19a

From the Gospel of John we hear:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”                                                                          John 13:34-35  

Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.


On the eve of our Christmas celebration, Jesus’ birthday, we light all of the candles of the Advent wreath.
First we light the candle for HOPE because Jesus is our hope.
Second, we light the candle for PEACE because Jesus is our hope and peace.
Third, we light the candle for JOY because Jesus brings joy.
Fourth, we light the candle for LOVE because Jesus is love.
Finally we light the center candle. This is the CHRIST candle. Jesus is born.           Jesus has come. Jesus is our salvation.

From the Gospel of Luke hear this account of the birth:

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you:  you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”                                                                                   Luke 2:10-11

Let us pray:
Great God of love and light, we thank you now for the light of that special star over two thousand years ago that guided humble shepherds and learned wise men to the holy babe. Lead us now, by the light of your love, that we also may follow you to new life in him. In celebration of the birthday of our King and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

A Service of Lessons and Carols 




Lighting of the Christ Candle

A Service of Lessons and Carols

“Once in Royal David’s City” vs. 1,2                                                                                    

The First Lesson                      Christ’s birth and kingdom are foretold                     Isaiah 9: 2,6,7

“Angels We Have Heard on High” vs. 1,3                                                                            

The Second Lesson                 The Peace of Christ is foreshown                               Isaiah 11:1,2,6 “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”                                                                                             

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”                                                                       

The Third Lesson                    The Angel Gabriel greets Mary                       Luke 1:26-35, 38

“O Holy Night”                                                                                             

“The First Nowell”  vs.1,2                                                                                                     

The Fourth Lesson                  The Birth of Jesus                                           Luke 2:1,3-7

“Joy to the World”      vs.1,2,4                                                                                               

The Fifth Lesson                     The Shepherds go to the manger                    Luke 2:8-16

“Still, Still, Still”                                                                                                                     

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”                                                                                          

The Sixth Lesson                    The Wise Men are led by the star                   Matt.2:1-11

“We Thee Kings of Orient Are” vs.1                                                                                     

The Seventh Lesson                The Incarnation                                               John 1:1-14

“O Come , All Ye Faithful”    vs.1                                                                                         


The Sacrament of Holy Communion

We will receive communion by Intinction.

Please come forward using the center aisle and return by the outside aisle.

To receive communion, break off a piece of bread and dip it into the cup, then eat.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.


*Candlelighting Carol             “Silent Night, Holly Night”                                                    

Candles will be lit at the end of rows, please light your neighbor’s candle in turn.

Hold the lit candle vertical, and tilt the unlit candle.