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A Family Worship Service for the Four Sundays of Advent

  • Martha Zimmerman Author
  • 2003 18 Dec
A Family Worship Service for the Four Sundays of Advent

Advent provides a wonderful opportunity for your family to worship and prepare together as you eagerly await the significant event of Christmas.  Here are some at-home worship services to help you celebrate the coming of our King including Advent readings, songs, and prayers.

First Sunday in Advent

Theme: Preparation

Sing: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”


First reader: Today is special because it is the beginning of a new season. We call this season “Advent.”

First child: What does that mean?

First reader: “Advent” is a word that means “to come.” It is a time when we get ready, preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child.

Second reader: What are some things that we might be doing to get ready?

Second child: We should get our hearts ready by thinking about Him.

Another child: We should become “expecters.”

Second reader: What we are doing right now around our Advent wreath is a way of preparing for Christmas.
(Pause — Take time as a family to plan ways to prepare your hearts and home for the birth of the Savior.)

First child: (Light the first candle.) I light this candle on the first Sunday in Advent to remind us that we must prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.

First reader: Isaiah 9:2, 6–7: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned ... 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. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (NIV).

(Talk about the preparation in the Old Testament for the coming of the Messiah through the words of the prophets.)

First reader: This candle is symbolic of the long years of waiting and hoping. The prophets, inspired by God, kept reminding the people to look forward to the coming of Messiah, the Son of God, who was to redeem the people from their sins. The Hebrew word for Jesus means “salvation.” Before Jesus left this earth to return to His home in heaven, He told us we should watch and wait for His return.

Sing: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Prayer time: Ask God to help us make room for Jesus in our hearts and in our home.

Thought for the week: “Prepare a road for the Lord through the wilderness, clear a highway across the desert for our God. ... Thus shall the glory of the Lord be revealed” (Isaiah 40:3, 5 NEB).


Second Sunday in Advent

Theme: Love

Sing: “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus”


First reader: This is the second Sunday in Advent. Do you remember why we are taking time to be together in this circle around our Advent wreath?

First child: (Relight first candle.) Last Sunday we lit the first candle, to remember that Advent is a time of preparation. During these days we are getting our hearts ready for the coming of the Christ Child.

First reader: This Sunday we are remembering that Jesus came to earth to tell us of God’s love.

Second reader: Our family knows that love is coming. Love is Christmas. God has become involved with us. Love asks us to be open, to be honest, and especially to trust.

Second child: (Light the second candle.) I light this candle on the second Sunday in Advent to remind us that Jesus came to earth to “show and tell” us of God’s love.

First reader: John 15:9–11: “I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (TEV).

Second reader: Philippians 1:9–11: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God” (NIV).

Talk together about love. Love has many voices and it speaks in many places. What are some of the voices of love? (Smiling at a friend, etc.) Where might love be spoken? (Raking leaves for an elderly person, making a card for someone who is ill, etc.)

Sing: “Away in a Manger”

Prayer time: Ask God to help us love one another. Thank Him for His gift of Love, which is what Christmas is all about.

Thought for the week: “Be sure that you act on the message [of love] and do not merely listen [to it]” (James 1:22, TLB). “And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love does toward you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12, TLB).


Third Sunday in Advent

Theme: Joy

Sing: “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus”


First reader: We have come together again to light another candle on this third Sunday in Advent. Let’s review our first two candles.

First child: (Relight first candle.) On the first Sunday we lit a candle to remind us to get our hearts ready for the coming of Jesus.

Second child: (Relight second candle.) On the second Sunday we lit the candle of love.

First reader: When we open our hearts and let the love of Jesus enter, we know joy! Today’s candle is for joy.

Second reader: Some people who knew the joy right away were the shepherds. After visiting the stable, they went back to their sheep, glorifying and praising God. But a lot of people living in Bethlehem missed it. They slept right through the whole thing and never knew it happened.

Another child: (Light the third candle.) I light the candle on the third Sunday in Advent to remind us that the angels said, “We have news of great joy!”

First reader: Philippians 4:4–7: “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus” (TEV).

Talk about joy. As we walk through these days leading up to Christmas, how much joy do we see in the faces of people around us or in each other? Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (NASB). We can’t order a dozen “joy” for Christmas and charge it on a credit card. What is joy and how do we get it?

Sing: “Joy to the World”

Prayer time: Let’s pray each day that the joy we know, the joy that is in our hearts, will be reflected in our faces. “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15, TEV).

Thought for the week: “For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace” (Isaiah 55:12, NASB).

This would be a good time to begin assembling a nativity scene in your home. Place a small barn or stable in a prominent location where it will be noticed. Put a cow and the manger in the shed. Sprinkle straw all around.


Fourth Sunday in Advent

Theme: God’s Gift

Sing: “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus”


First reader: We have gathered together today to light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath. But before we do let’s relight the other three candles and be reminded of each message.

First child: (Relight first candle.) On the first Sunday of Advent we lit a candle to remind us to get our hearts ready for the coming of Jesus.

Second child: (Relight second candle.) On the second Sunday we lit the candle of love.

Another child: (Relight third candle.) We lit the third candle to remind us that the angels sang “news of great joy.”

First reader: Today’s candle makes the whole wreath bright. This candle reminds us of the giving part of Christmas.

Second reader: God has given us many gifts. Sometimes we try to count our blessings and the list is always long. But of all His gifts, none is greater than the gift of His Son Jesus. In giving us His Son He gave us himself.

Another family member: (Light the fourth candle.) I light this candle on the fourth Sunday in Advent to remind us of God’s gift.

First reader: 2 Corinthians 4:6: “God, who first ordered light to shine in darkness, has flooded our hearts with his light. We now can enlighten men only because we can give them knowledge of the glory of God, as we see it in the face of Jesus Christ” (Phillips).

Talk about love turning into a specific person — Christ, the gift, expresses himself in love. What can we give Him? Find ways to give ourselves with our gifts.

Sing: “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” paying special attention to verse three.

Prayer time: Ask God to help you understand real giving, which is the gift of yourselves. Offer to be available as a package to be given again and again wherever He needs you in His service.

Thought for the days between now and Christmas: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, KJV).

While we are wrapping gifts, let us remember God’s gift to us.

Advent Wreath Cake

This is a nice and easy dessert to make and serve on the first Sunday of Advent or during the season.

1 package yellow cake mix

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat ingredients for four minutes. Put in greased 12-cup ring mold or bundt pan. Bake 40–50 minutes in 350 degree oven. Frost with green frosting (and green coconut, optional). Red-hots (cinnamon candies) or glazed red cherries may be used for holly-berry decorations. Four candles complete the cake wreath.



Excerpted from "Celebrating the Christian Year" by Martha Zimmerman, Copyright © 1994, Martha G. Zimmerman. ISBN 1556613490. Published by Bethany House Publishers.

Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.





Let go of the busyness and stress of the holiday season and open your heart and mind to peace by experiencing the joy of Jesus' birth as you use 12 Advent Prayers! Finding quiet time during the holidays will help you reflect on the reason for Christmas and preparing our hearts to celebrate Christ's birth. Let us know in the comments how you are preparing your heart!