Advent: Lighting the Third Candle

This is part 5 of a 7-part series on Advent by Toni and Brian Becker.
[Play Christmas worship music before gathering to set a special tone. You can even play the four songs you are going to sing during the service to familiarize everyone to the songs.]

Opening Prayer and Lighting of First and Second Candle
[light the first and second candle] Father, we take this time to pause and consider how good and faithful You are. We acknowledge and thank You for the moments You have given us to spend here on earth together. Your loving-kindness sustains us. We apologize for the ways in which we violate Your commandments of love and squander precious moments of this life. Thank You for Your mercy. Fill us with Your peace. Our souls’ joy is found in You. Open our hearts to listen to what You have to say to us in this Advent time. Amen.

Songs of Worship
Open The Eyes Of My Heart
Draw Me Close To You

Bible Reading
Luke 1:57-80 read from The Message [condensed]

When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her. On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother intervened: “No. He is to be called John.”

“But,” they said, “no one in your family is named that.” They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named. Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, “His name is to be John.”

That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—Zachariah’s mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God! A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.”

Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.

The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.

Meditation
Remember the first Advent story of the angel appearing to Zachariah? Now we see that, sure enough, what the angel said would happen, did happen. The whole community celebrated the birth with Zachariah and Elizabeth!

Of course they were already calling the baby Zachariah, because that was the custom of the day: name the first-born son after the father. But when Zachariah responded to their question about what to name the child with “name him John” another miracle happened before all those people. He regained his ability to speak. He could finally speak after more then 9 months of being mute. And what did he do? He praised God and prophesied over his little baby boy.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways!

That really got the people talking all over the land. They were seeing God’s hand move in a mighty way right before their eyes! Now their eyes were going to be watching that little boy grow up to see what else God was going to do through him. Their hearts were open. They were watching. They were waiting. They were being prepared for their Messiah to arrive.

Lighting of the Third Advent Candle
[light third Advent candle] We know that fear casts out faith. And we know that faith casts out fear and that you can’t have both. You have proven Yourself to be more than faithful to Your promises, Lord. Help our unbelief. We choose to live by faith and not fear. John came to prepare the way for Your arrival. We go now to present the offer of salvation and the forgiveness of sin to everyone still sitting in the shadow of death. Show us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.

Closing Song of Worship
Step by Step
Joy To The World

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If you would like to download the songs we’ve suggested for our advent services you can click the box below and download each of them for $0.99. The lyrics for the songs appear below:

Draw Me Close To You

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
No one else will do
‘Cause nothing else could take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find the way
Bring me back to You

You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near

Open The Eyes Of My Heart by Paul Baloche

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You
(repeat)

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy
I want to see you

Step By Step by Rich Mullins

Sometimes the night was beautiful
Sometimes the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close
You could touch it but your heart would break
Sometimes the morning came too soon
Sometimes the day could be so hot
There was so much work left to do
But so much You’d already done

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that, no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach

Joy To The World

Joy to the world! The Lord is come:
let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns:
let men their songs employ
while fields and floods rocks hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the earth with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love

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