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Hope-Filled Readings and Prayers for the First Sunday of Advent

  • Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
  • 2020 2 Nov
first candle lit for first Sunday of Advent

After a tumultuous year, there is comfort to be found when we pause to read, pray, and reflect over the course of the Advent season in which believers eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth.

The first Sunday of Advent gives us the opportunity to center our thoughts on hope.

It's a beautiful chance to remember the hope God offers to our lost and dying world, and that He's given us through Jesus.

Galatians 4:4-8 says:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Paul, the writer of Galatians, articulates so perfectly the great hope we celebrate at Christmas! Without God’s intervention, we were all slaves...bound up by our sin nature and hopelessly headed to the grave. Because of God's great love for us, He came down and rescued humanity by sending his Son as a sacrifice for our sin—so we could be free from the chains of sin and become fully part of God’s glorious eternal family.

As we prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ arrival as a gift to all humanity; let’s stir up in our hearts and homes a sense of anticipation. Over this Advent, we pray that hope would rise up in our spirits in a tangible and life-giving way.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/RomoloTavani

The Meaning of Advent

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent in the 4th and 5th century was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers.

Over time, advent was connected to the coming of Christ. Originally Christians used this term to reference Christ’s second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was connected to Christ’s first coming that we celebrate at Christmas.

Today, we celebrate Advent over the four weeks leading up to Christmas each year. This year we begin advent on November 29th and end this season of prayerful anticipation on December 24th.

Advent season is an invitation to set your mind off of the stresses of the year. We can take our focus off of the crazy hustle that can be associated with the Christmas season that often threatens to produce more hassle than delight. Advent is a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from Heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.

The tradition for the first Sunday of Advent includes lighting the candle of hope.

This candle of hope symbolizes promises delivered through the prophets from God as well as the hope we have in Christ. God crafted a great rescue plan that he lays out in Scripture. This plan foretells years in advance the arrival of Christ. The Bible also gives us a glimpse of the future, and promises that God will come down to create a new heaven and Earth.

This first Sunday of Advent we read, pray, and reflect on the hope God’s plan gives us (foretold by the prophets and fulfilled by the life and death of Christ), and we meditate on the promise of Christ’s coming glory-filled return.

The book of IsaiahPhoto Credit: ©SparrowStock

3 Suggested Scripture Readings for the First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-5
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways... 

Psalm 80:1-7
Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock. O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Show us your mighty power. Come to rescue us! Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, how long will you be angry with our prayers? You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful. You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations. Our enemies treat us as a joke. Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

Psalm 80:17-19
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent

Father, let your hope arise in our hearts! Lift our eyes up to see that you alone are where our hope comes from. Help us to shake off the anxiety, discouragements, and distractions that have filled this year.

May we pause to remember that we have hope in you.

You know the end of our stories, and we give thanks because you have promised that it will be a victorious ending. Give us the grace we need to wrap up this year joyfully.

We invite your Spirit into this beautiful Advent season. Renew our sense of holy anticipation! Let us be those who are waiting eagerly for Jesus to come again.

More than anything, we ask that you be glorified in this season of expectation. Amen.

woman with blanket reading by fireplace first Sunday of AdventPhoto Credit: ©Getty Images/Deagreez

Other Recommended Readings of Hope for the First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

Isaiah 7:14
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Jeremiah 33:14-16
The day will come, says the LORD, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them. “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.'

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:24-37
At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert! “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”

As you light your first advent candle, may God’s spirit transform the days leading up to Christmas into a time of holy anticipation—a time we joyfully await the chance to celebrate the arrival of our king.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/bzzup


Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.


This article is part of our larger Christmas and Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

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