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Responsive Readings for Advent, Year B

Including Christmas Eve

Based on the Lectionary Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary

Provided courtesy of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene

Dennis Bratcher

Advent 1:

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new Church Year.  Today we light the candle of prophecy, not as prediction of the future, but proclaiming the promise that God will always be with his people. [Optional: This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah, which weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history. As Godís people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and lulled into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, there arose a longing among some for God to raise up a new leader who could show them how to be Godís people. They yearned for a return of Godís dynamic presence in their midst.]

Leader: O LORD God, how long will you be silent? We see daily the brokenness and evil of our world and cry out to you for deliverance. We are fed with the bread of tears and have tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves and ask, "Where is your God?"

People:  Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead your people like a flock!  You, who once heard the cries of oppressed slaves, come to deliver us. Bring hope, possibility, and newness amid the darkness and hopelessness that too often threatens us.

Leader:  It seems that there is no one who calls on your name. It seems that you have hidden your face from us, and have allowed evil to triumph. We have cried by day and you have not answered; we have cried by night yet find no relief.

People: O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Remember, we are your people.  Restore us, O God of hosts; make your presence known that we may be delivered.

Leader: O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.  You have done awesome deeds that we did not expect. Come again and make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

People:  Restore us, O God of hosts; make your presence known that we may be delivered.  As you have come in unexpected ways in the past, come now again in your own way beyond what we can imagine.

Leader: O Lord, we too easily become weary and discouraged.  It seems that you do not notice that we are hurting, that the struggles of life seem so overwhelming, that evil seems to be winning.  It is easy to be lulled into the sleep of indifference, so that we can no longer see possibility, that we no longer expect you to make all things new.

People: O God, help us not to be so discouraged that we sleep through your coming.  Awaken us!  Restore us, O God; make your presence known that we may be delivered.  O Lord, come quickly!

Advent 2:

Today is the second Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the candle of the Shepherds, who were caught by surprise at the heavenly proclamation that God was in the process of revealing himself to the world in a new way.

Leader:  In accordance with your promises, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home and justice prevails.  We wait for the coming of the day of God, when the lion shall lay down with the lamb, when there will be true peace on earth.

People:  O Lord, revive us again so that your people may rejoice in you. Show us your steadfast love and grant us your salvation. Let us hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Leader: Let us prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

People:  Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, so that his presence may dwell with us.

Leader: Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to them, and cry to them that a light will shine in the darkness, that God's presence will be revealed, that newness will come.

People:  Let us prepare our hearts to recognize and receive God's promise of his presence and the newness that He brings.

Leader: Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his presence may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will prevail. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The LORD will give what is good, and there will be peace on earth. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

People: O Lord, give us eyes to see your presence in the midst of the darkness around us. Do not let us give up hope that you are at work in our midst to make all things new.  Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

Advent 3:

Today is the third Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the candle of Bethlehem, as we begin to celebrate the coming of the one long promised, the true light that enlightens everyone, who will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Leader:  Hear, O people of God. The time draws near when God will make himself known in new ways among his people.  Rejoice!  The spirit of the Lord God is upon me to bring good news to the  oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to comfort all who mourn, to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

People:  O Lord, we will greatly rejoice in the LORD, for you are making your presence known to us.  You have clothed us with the garments of salvation, you have covered us with the robe of righteousness.  O God, may we be known among the nations as a people whom the LORD has blessed.

Leader:  A voice cries out in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

People:  O Lord, help us prepare for your coming.  May our mouth be filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. May it be said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." Indeed, the LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoice.

Leader: The great things that God is doing may seem small at first.  Yet, Bethlehem, a small village in a remote corner of a large empire, becomes the place where God reveals the Hope of the world!  Do not despise the day of small things or think that God cannot work among humble and lowly people. To a people beaten down and discouraged, God proclaims, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory."

People:  Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like new springs bursting forth in the desert.  May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. May those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, come home with shouts of joy carrying their harvest. Let us rejoice in our God who is fulfilling His promise, "I will be with you!" 

Advent 4:

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the candle of the Angels, messengers of God who announced to a young girl that she would bear a son who would be called the Son of the Most High and be the presence of God in the world; messengers who proclaimed from the heavens the birth of this child.

Leader:  Our wait is almost over!  The newness that God has promised is becoming a reality!  We had expected God to establish an earthly kingdom, to rid us of evil, to vindicate our righteousness before the entire world.  Now one is about to be born who will be called the Son of the Most High, a child of God, God's very presence with us.

People:  Our spirit rejoices in God our Savior, for he has looked with favor upon us.  The Mighty One has done great things for us, and holy is his name.

Leader:  Yet the reality of God's new work goes beyond what we have imagined.  Our expectations have been limited to an earthly King and a physical Kingdom, a King who will reward our righteousness.  Yet this child will be a different kind of King and establish a different Kingdom that will be eternal, a King who calls us to move beyond the boundaries of our own limited view and be a light to the nations.

People:  O God, you have been faithful to the promise you made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever, yet beyond what we expected.  You have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. You have brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; you have filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  

Leader:  The child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. This child will be great and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

People:  O Lord, we will sing of your steadfast love forever; we will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. We declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

Leader: Now to God who is able to strengthen all of you according to the proclamation of Jesus who is the Christ, according to the revelation that is made known to all peoples, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!

People:  Here we are, the servants of the Lord.  May it be done according to your word.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day

Today is Christmas Eve [Christmas Day].  This evening [Today] we light the Christ candle to celebrate the light of Christ coming into a darkened world, our hope realized in the birth of this child.

Leader:  We have been waiting for the revelation of God, the coming of a new King who will bring peace, righteousness, and deliverance.  The time has come!

People:  Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!

Leader:  Hear the Good News of great joy for all people.  A child has been born this day in the city of David, in Bethlehem.  He is the Messiah, the Lord.  He is called the son of God, Immanuel, God with us. We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light, the light of God's presence in the world, the fulfillment of His promise to be with us always.

People:  Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

Leader:  This child will establish a new Kingdom, not on the basis of power and violence, but a Kingdom of justice and righteousness. He shall be known as the Prince of Peace.

People:  Sing to the Lord; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.  Say among the nations, "The Lord is king!"

Leader:  This child is born not in a palace or in the halls of power but in a stable.  He is attended not by princes and priests but by lowly shepherds.  He is named Jesus, "God saves," because through him will all nations of the earth find deliverance.

People:   He is the one who will give himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own. We rejoice because the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, calling us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly.

 Leader:  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea give forth praise, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he has come.

People:  O Lord, may we, like Mary, treasure all these words and ponder them in our hearts.  

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-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2017, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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