An Advent Series with Order of Worship, Readings, Lighting, sermon series, and Quotes


The Once and Future Christmas: An Advent Worship and Sermon Series

I have found that, for many pastors and worship leaders, preparation for Advent and Christmas begins during this time. I trust the following could be of some help.

This Advent series came, in 2007, as I had accepted the call to become President and Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. My farewell sermon came on Sunday Two in Advent. Thus, there is a break in the series for that day. But I do trust that pastors and other worship planners might find this helpful. To God be the glory.

Some Notes on the Series:

  • · The Advent Candle readings for the weekly lighting of the Advent candles has been included, with prayers written. We have found that some of our people prefer having written prayers and some don’t. It is here for those who desire it.
  • · The Advent Candle lighting is an important part of this time. And having classes or families or singles or senior saints allows for the entire congregation to be recognized and appreciated.
  • · The first Sunday in Advent begins the season with a processional with the choir and ministers from the rear of the church. Thus when the minister has given his announcements, and as the candle lighting begins, he makes his way, around the side, to the rear. The ministers come in at the end of the processional on either aisle.
  • · For Christmas Eve we have followed a variation of the traditional Lessons and Carols format with Holy Communion, and a candle lighting following, during the singing of Silent Night.


Order of Worship for Sundays in Advent


  • Prelude
  • Welcome and Announcements
  • Lighting of the Advent Candle with Readings and Prayer
  • Chiming of the Hour
  • Introit
  • Call to Worship
  • Hymns of Praise
  • Invocation, Prayer of Repentance and Words of Assurance
  • Affirmation of Faith
  • Gloria Patri
  • Greeting in Christ
  • Reading of the Scriptures
  • Prayer of Illumination
  • Sermon
  • Prayer of Commitment
  • Pastoral Prayer and Dedication of Offerings
  • Offertory
  • Doxology
  • Benediction and Response
  • Postlude

December 2

Readings and Prayer

Reader: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” We light this candle as a sign of the coming light of Jesus Christ.

Hear the Word of the Lord: (Read Is. 9.2)

Prayer: Lord, we welcome you each and every time we come into this place. But we pray that today, more than every before, our hearts will be open to your coming into our homes, our places of work, our relationships, to illumine every area of life with the light of Your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Call to Worship

Minister: Rejoice in the Lord always.

People: I will say it again, Rejoice!

Minister: Let your gentleness be evident to all.

People: The Lord is near.

Minister: We rejoice in the hope of Christ’s coming. Let us worship God! (Based on Philippians 4.4-5)


All: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Scripture and sermon and synopsis

“Behind Every Cloud…” (Gen. 9.12-15; Luke 2.8-14; Acts 1.6-9; Rev. 1.7)

Behind every cloud in Scripture, there is…a golden lining of the story of Christ and His Gospel. In the OT God gave a covenant in the clouds; angels sang of His birth in the sky, if not the clouds; Jesus ascended into a cloud in the sky; and he shall return with the clouds.

The clouds thus tell the story of Advent. From the clouds, in Scripture, we learn that…

(1) Advent is a promise made (Gen. 9.12-15)

(2) Advent is a promise kept (Luke 2.8-14)

(3) Advent is a life to be lived (Acts 1.6-9)

(4) Advent is a future not to be missed (Rev. 1.7)

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: Genesis 9.12 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 13 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 14 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 15

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2.8 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 9 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 10 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 11 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 12 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 13

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”* 14

So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1.6

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Acts 1.7

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1.8

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1.9

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail* on account of him. Even so. Amen. Revelation 1.7


ADVENT—the four-week period that leads up to Christmas—is a series of events designed not to delay the celebration of Christmas, but to enhance it. It’s a kind of delayed gratification that culminates in a … satisfaction that is all the richer for the waiting.—Joan Chittister

Advent spirituality is not a time to meditate on the actual birth of Christ. According to tradition, we ought not to sing Christmas carols until Christmas itself, for Advent is not a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the manger but a time to long for the coming of the Savior. The appropriate sense of this season is captured in the pleading of “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”—Robert Weber

December 9

Readings and Prayer

Reader: In 1 John 1.5 we read: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” We read from Isaiah today and remember that Christ is the light that leads us into a new way of life.

Hear the Word of the Lord: (Read Is. 42.16)

Prayer: Lord, open our hearts today to your light. We need you to guide us, to lead us, and to open our lives to your power. We pray for our congregation. We pray for our pastor and all of our pastors, that in Christ, we are always one, wherever we are sent. For wherever we are sent, you are already there. We pray in Jesus’ name.

Call to Worship

Minister: The Lord has done great things for us!

People: And we are filled with joy!

Minister: Our God has turned our weeping into singing.

People: And our tears into songs of joy!

Minister: O Christ of God, come anew in our hearts this day,

People: And remain in us forever. (Based on Psalm 126)


Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,4 and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way6 that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Scripture and sermon and synopsis

Farewell Message

Joshua 1.1-2; 6-9; Acts 20.13-38


YOU keep us waiting.

You, the God of all time,

Want us to wait

For the right time in which to


Who we are, where we are to go,

Who will be with us, and what we

must do.

So thank you … for the waiting time.—John Bell

The spirituality of Advent calls us to start our journey in expectation of the second coming of Christ. The end time is the period in history when the work of Christ will be consummated, when the powers of evil will be put away forever, when the earth will be restored to the golden age described by Isaiah and St. John (see Isa. 65; Rev. 20-22).—Robert Weber

December 16

Readings and Prayer

Reader: In 1 John 1.7 we read: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

We read how God from all time had planned for a great fellowship of people to walk in the light of Christ, not just Jew, not just Gentile, but all people throughout all time gathered under Christ Jesus as one.

Hear the Word of the Lord: (Read Is. 49.6)

Prayer: Lord, help us in our church to follow your Great Commission, especially during this time of year. Grant us your courage and power to shine the light of Jesus Christ to others. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Call to Worship

Minister: Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.

People: Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.

Minister: It is close at hand.

People: Come, let us worship God.


The Apostles’ Creed

Scripture and sermon and synopsis

The Prophets’ Dream

The third Sunday continues the focus on John’s preaching, this time with the emphasis on the Messiah as the One who will baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:7-18). We will see how the ancient prophet’s vision for justice is attached to Jesus’ Second Coming (Is. 30.18; Acts 17.31)


Next, the second coming says that the ultimate word in history is the triumph of God, the reign of God’s kingdom, the eternal and lasting rule of the good. Here is where our Advent meditation rests. By faith we are promised that evil will be judged and done away with and all will be made whole. This is the vision we want to carry with us as we view the news and visit the hospitals, psychiatric wards, and prisons of our world. Christian hope is an optimism about life that is grounded in Christ and celebrated again and again in the liturgy of the church.—Robert Weber

December 23

Readings and Prayer

Reader: In 1 John 2.8 we read: “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” Today we read from Isaiah about how the light of Jesus is a light that brings healing.

Hear the Word of the Lord: (Read Is. 58.8)

Prayer: Lord, we need your healing in our lives this day. And we want to be healed in order to bring your light to others in our lives, in our nation, and in our world who are also heavy with burdens, troubled by sorrows, oppressed by sin, and in desperate need of a light that will disperse their darkness. And we know, Lord, you are the only light that can bring ultimate and final healing. Come O Light of Christ and heal us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Call to Worship

Minister: Our souls magnify the Lord!

People: Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior!

Minister: The mighty One has done great things for us!

People: Holy is God’s name!

Minister: Let us worship God.

People: For God is our Maker and our Redeemer; from generation to generation God gives mercy.


Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Scripture and sermon and synopsis

Born in Me

The final Sunday in Advent is the bridge to Christmas with the its attention to the miracle of Christ’s conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38). We will focus on the conception of Christ in a believer’s soul, and the unveiling of King Jesus in the sky (Matth. 24.30)


There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the incarnation. —Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

In Advent spirituality we are also called on to meditate on the birthing of Christ in our hearts. In this matter we are dealing with the conversion of life, the movement away from the old life lived under the power of evil to the new life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. True conversion is a turning from one way of life to another. Christ calls us to be converted to him, to make him the pattern of our lives, to make our living and dying a living and dying in him. —Robert Weber

December 24 —Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Order with Advent readings and prayer

Reader: In the Gospel of Matthew we read of the Magi “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” (Matthew 2.10). And so it was foretold in Isaiah of a light that would arise.

Hear God’s Word. (Read Is. 60.1-3).

Prayer: Father, on this blessed night as we are gathered in your presence, make that light shine in our hearts that we too may come to the brightness of Your dawn. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Scripture and sermon and synopsis

We are Bound to Worship

On Christmas Eve we shall consider the worship of angels (2.13-14) and of shepherds (Luke 2.20) in the Christmas story. And we look forward to the singing of the heavenly hosts with all of us together, forever, on that Day when He comes again (Rev. 5.13)

Reflections (for back cover)

“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”—William Gurnall

Lessons and Carols

Order of Worship for Christmas Eve Communion

The following service is adapted for worship in the Presbyterian Church in America from the Lessons and Carols of King’s College, Cambridge

The Ministry of the Word


The Welcome

The Advent Candle Lighting

The Readings and Prayer

The Chiming of the Hour

The Voluntary for Silent Prayer

* The congregation stands.

*The Call to Worship

*The Processional Hymn of Praise “Once in Royal David’s City” (verse 1 solo, congregation and choir on verses 2-5)

*The Invocation

The congregation is seated.

The Confession of Sin and Words of Assurance

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lessons and Carols

Reader One: The Fall and the Promise, Selections from Genesis 3, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

Reader Two: The Covenant with Abraham, Selections from Genesis 22, “Angels from the Realms of Glory”

Reader Three: The Prophet foretells of a coming Savior, Selections from Isaiah 9, “I Wonder as I Wonder” (by Choir)

Reader Four: The Visitation of Mary, Selections from St. Luke 1, “What Child is This?”

Reader Five: The Angelic Visitation to Shepherds, Selections from St. Luke 2, Medley of “While Shepherds Watched their Flock by Night,” and “Away in a Manger”

Reader Six: The Wise Men Find Jesus, Selections from Matthew 2, “We Three Kings of Orient Are”

*The congregation stands.
*Reader Seven: St. John unfolds the Great Mystery of the Incarnation, St. John 1.1-14, selected verses from “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Noel”

Minister: The Lord be with you!

People: And also with you.

Minister: Let us give the greeting of peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Greeting

The Christmas Eve Meditation

The Offertory

The Ministry of the Table

The Instructions

The Reading of the Institution

The Pastoral Prayers

Sursum Corda

The Dedications

The Bread

The Cup

The Communion Prayer

*The Hymn “Silent Night” with candles

*The Benediction and Dismissal


A New Book by Mike Milton

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New Music from Mike Milton

Through the Open Door continues the theological reflections on life and faith and distributed through the label, Music for Missions. Part of the profit from Through the Open Door will literally open a door of ministry to one called to the ministry. Buy it now by clicking on the album cover. Or go to Music for Missions.




About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
This entry was posted in Advent Quotes, advent readings, Advent Reflections, Advent Scriptures, Advent sermon series, Advents Readings and Prayer, Affirmation of Faith for Advent, Christian, Christianity, Dr. Michael A. Milton, Dr. Mike Milton, Jesus Christ, Joan Chittister Advent Quote, Michael Milton, Mike Milton, Order of Worship for Advent, PCA, PCA Advent, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Advent, Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Churches, Reformed, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte, Religion, Robert Weber Advent Quote, RTS, RTS-Charlotte, Spirituality, The Once and Future Christmas, William Gurnall Advent Quote and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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