Planning for the First Sunday in Advent

Posted by Andrew R. Jones on Oct 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

12-3-17.jpgLearn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the First Sunday in Advent.

Season & Preparations

This Sunday marks the First Sunday in Advent and the beginning of a new Church Year. During this season, we reflect upon the threefold coming of Christ, the one who has come, is coming, and will come again.

As we prepare our hearts for this new season, many changes within our worship space reinforce this shift as well. The paraments change from green to blue (or violet, depending on a congregation’s tradition). Many churches may add an Advent wreath in the sanctuary as a way to mark this new time and reflect on the coming of Christ. The wreath’s candle colors should coordinate with the paraments, save for the Third Sunday in Advent, which is often marked by the rose-colored candle.

In the book Gathered Guests, Timothy Maschke further explains the significance of the parament colors during the Advent season:

The reintroduction of blue as the liturgical color for Advent communicates a sense of hope. The more traditional royal purple proclaims the coming King. If violet (or purple) is used, the symbols on the paraments should be distinct from those used during Lent. Advent and Lent may be linked by the use of the Lamb as a symbol for both seasons, but the crucial distinction between the seasonal emphases should be explained to the gathered guests. (291)

Readings & Theme

Our readings for this week reflect the Advent theme of Christ’s coming. In our Old Testament Reading, we hear the prophet beg the Lord to rend the heavens, come down, and make His name known to all. In a similar manner, we hear the psalmist ask the Lord, “Stir up Your might and come to save us” (Psalm 80:2). The Gospel from Mark 11 reminds us that although we may wish for our Lord to rend the heavens and come in great might, His coming is not always what we expect. Instead, we often see Christ come gently and humbly, as He did on Palm Sunday.

The image of Christ’s somewhat strange and unexpected coming on Palm Sunday is depicted in the bulletin cover for this week. We see Jesus as the central figure in that Palm Sunday crowd, but we also see depictions of the various reactions people may have to Him. Some, like the children, are eager to prepare for Christ’s coming. Others stare in wonder and confusion about what kind of man this is. Still others follow and gaze from afar, not knowing if this man is truly the promised Messiah, the one who will save and redeem the world.

Hymns & Music

Our Hymn of the Day is “Savior of the Nations, Come” (LSB 332). The lyrics are based on text attributed to Ambrose of Milan in the fourth century AD. In our own way, we echo the words of the prophet as we ask the Virgin’s Son to make here His home. Through the verses of this classic Advent hymn, we remember different aspects of Christ’s coming on earth. We finish by singing the doxological final stanza, giving glory to Christ, the King who reigns throughout eternity. Other suggested music for the day reinforces this focus through hymns such as “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” (LSB 336) and “The King of Glory” (All God's People Sing! 227).

Additional Resources for Worship & Study

For churches seeking to dive deeper into these Advent themes, additional resources for Bible study and devotion are available for the Advent season. For example, the preaching resources in Savior of the Nations include Bible studies, sermons, children’s messages, and music for use throughout the season. For children, the Arch Book Jesus Enters Jerusalem may assist with reinforcing the week’s lessons during devotional time at home.

Looking for additional information on service planning? Visit our resource library to view the latest set of planning sheets, suggested music, and bulletin information!

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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Quotation from Gathered Guests by Timothy H. Maschke, copyright © 2003, 2009 Timothy H. Maschke. Published by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.

Tags: Advent, Service Planning