Lighting the Third Candle of Advent

Call to Worship 

Call to Worship Lighting of the Advent Candles

Today we continue our celebration of Advent.  Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, we will rejoice in the gift that is ours in Jesus Christ.  
  
In celebration, we will be lighting the candles of the Advent wreath.  

The candles signify that Jesus is the Light of the World.   
The evergreens remind us that He is life and brings life to us.   
The candles are arranged in a circle because life in Christ has no end.

Each Sunday we will light an additional candle.  
On Christmas Eve, we will light all the candles, including the center one, the Christ candle.  
We will rejoice that Christ has come to us.

Today we light the candle of Joy.
 “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete” 
meaning 
“Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice.”

On this third Sunday of Advent, as we think about the coming of Jesus Christ, we light the candle of joy. The candle is pink.

When Christ comes into our lives, He brings the fullness of joy.
He anoints our hearts with the oil of gladness. (Isaiah 61:3)

When Jesus was born, the angels said that His coming was good news of great joy for all people. (Luke 2:10)

Because Christ has come to us, we can live every day in the joy of the Lord.  The LORD will make his people free, they will come back to him.
Praise to His name!

They will come into Zion rejoicing.   They will be happy forever.   Their happiness will be like a crown on their heads.   Gladness and joy will fill them completely.  
(Isaiah 35:10) 

Responsive Reading

Leader:  We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Joy.  
All:  May the joyful promise of your presence, O God, make us rejoice in our hope of salvation.

Leader:   May the Joy of Christ fill our hearts and minds
All:  May the joy of our salvation spread to our neighbors and our communities until all the world chimes into our shouts of praise.

Opening Prayer

This third week of Advent, let us remember that the good news of Jesus’ birth has the power to bring us great joy this Christmas season.  Our joy isn’t dependent on what is going on in our life, in our world, or the people that we are with.  

No earthly thing can ever give us complete joy.  Our joy comes from you.  That joy that flooded the hearts of the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the hosts of heaven, and Mary and Joseph is the joy that still has the power to overwhelm our hearts with rejoicing. 

Father, you offer that same joy to us now if we know you and recognize Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  You gave us a reason to celebrate when you gave us the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ.   

You came to dwell among us.  You went to Calvary’s cross for us.   You overcame death and rose from the dead for us.   You forgive our sin and give us eternal life when we believe in you. 

Our joy doesn’t come from our jobs, our family, our relationships, our finances, or our success.  Our joy doesn’t come from what we have on earth or who we are with.  Our joy is a gift.  

It is the gift that you gave us that first Christmas in Jesus Christ.  Our joy is encompassed in our Savior, King Jesus.  Flood our heart with joy this Advent season as we reflect on the good news of Jesus’ birth.

In Jesus’ precious name we pray.
   
Amen

Luke 2:8-20

8 That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid.
10 The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid. I have some very good news for you—news that will make everyone happy.  
11 Today your Savior was born in David's town. He is Christ, the Lord.
12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box."
13 Then a huge army of angels from heaven joined the first angel, and they were all praising God, saying,
14 "Praise God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please him."
15 The angels left the shepherds and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, "What a great event this is that the Lord has told us about. Let's go to Bethlehem and see it."
16 So they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box.
17 When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child.
18 Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them.
19 Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them.
20 The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them.
The Glory of Christmas - Denny Mathews - The Shepherd