Prayers for an Advent Wreath


The Advent Wreath is a traditional devotion, involving an evergreen wreath with four candles attached and a central candle for Christmas. One candle is lit on each Sunday of Advent and prayers are said.

People use a range of differently coloured candles, but my chosen pattern is three purple candles and one pink one (for the third Sunday of Advent, which is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday), with a white candle for Christmas.

The purple picks up the liturgical colour of the season, and for this reason I prefer it to the red or white candles sometimes used, but there are many different local customs.

You can download a PDF of the prayers: here

Candle

                

Theme 1

                    

Theme 2

                    

Theme 3



1st                            Patriarchs                     O Wisdom                      Hope

2nd                           Prophets                      O Key of David               Peace

3rd                            John the Baptist         O King of the Nations    Joy

4th                             Mary                            O Emmanuel                  Love

5th                             Jesus (Christmas)        Jesus                              Jesus

Theme 1


You could add symbols for these characters: a tent (Abraham and Sarah); a scroll (Isaiah and Jeremiah); a camel hair robe (John the Baptist); a rose (Mary).

Week 1: Patriarchs



We light this candle to remember Abraham and Sarah and all the faithful people of long ago. These people listened to God and trusted God. They went on a journey to obey God. We are also on a journey of faith, to know God better.

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, be with us on our journey through Advent, that we may know you better.

Amen



Week 2: Prophets


We lit the first candle to remember Abraham and Sarah and all the faithful people of long ago. Today we light the second candle to remember Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the prophets of long ago. These people listened to God and gave God's message to their neighbours and friends. They helped people understand what God is like and they shared God's promises for the future. We also watch and listen for God's voice.

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, be with us on our journey through Advent, that we may know you better.

Amen



Week 3: John the Baptist



We lit the first candle to remember Abraham and Sarah and all the faithful people of long ago. We lit the second candle to remember Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the prophets of long ago. Today, we light the third candle to remember John the Baptist. John helped the people to have a new start with God. He baptised them in the river Jordan. John helped them to realise that they should follow Jesus. We too, are followers of Jesus, looking for the signs of his coming.

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, be with us on our journey through Advent, that we may know you better.

Amen



Week 4: Mary


We lit the first candle to remember Abraham and Sarah and all the faithful people of long ago. We lit the second candle to remember Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the prophets of long ago. We lit the third candle to remember John the Baptist. Today, we light the fourth candle to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Mary was asked to be the mother of Jesus, she said, 'Yes'. When God asks us to do something, may we be ready to say 'Yes'.

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, be with us on our journey through Advent, that we may know you better.

Amen



Christmas Eve / Christmas morning:



We lit these four candles through Advent to remember: Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Mary. All these people lived out their faith so that Godís will would be done on earth.

Today, we light the candle of Christmas to welcome Jesus. Jesus is born, alleluia. He is the light of the world.


Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, we welcome you. Shine on us and help us to reflect your light.

Amen



Theme 2


You could add symbols each week: an oil lamp (wisdom); a key (Key of David); crown (King of the Nations); a chalice and host (Emmanuel).

Week 1: O Wisdom


We light this first candle to ask for the wisdom of God. All things begin and end with God. God is so wise that he created the universe - from the largest planet to the tiniest microbe.

God sent Jesus, and all the wisdom of God was in him. One of the titles given to Jesus is the 'Wisdom of God'. In Advent, we pray for him to come near to us and help us.

O Wisdom, coming from the heart of God and filling all creation, come and teach us the way of truth.

Amen



Week 2: O Key of David



We lit the first candle to ask for the wisdom of God to come near to us and help us. We light this second candle to ask God to rescue us and give us life.

Today we begin our prayer, 'O Key of David'. Jesus is sometimes called the 'Key of David'. He belongs to the family tree of King David and he can open the way to God, just as a key opens a locked door.


O Key of David, open for us the doorway of life. Free us from every kind of darkness and bring us into your light.

Amen



Week 3: O King of the Nations



We lit the first candle to ask for the wisdom of God to come near to us and help us. We lit the second candle to ask God to rescue us and give us life. We light this third candle to ask God to help every nation on earth. We pray for our own country quite often and for other countries sometimes, but today we pray for every nation and country and race on the earth. Jesus is sometimes called the 'King of the Nations' and so this is how we begin our prayer:

O King of the nations, only you can speak to the dreams of every group and draw us together to live as one on the earth. Rescue us, because we are all your sons and daughters.

Amen



Week 4: O Emmanuel



We lit the first candle to ask for the wisdom of God to come near to us and help us. We lit the second candle to ask God to rescue us and give us life. We lit the third candle to ask God to help every nation on earth.

We light the fourth candle to ask that we may know Jesus better. The more we understand Jesus, the better we will know God. Jesus is sometimes called 'Emmanuel' which means 'God with us.'

O Emmanuel, may we know you better and see your work of love in the world. Come to us and save us.

Amen



Christmas Eve / Christmas morning:



We lit these four candles through Advent to ask for Godís wisdom, to ask God to give us life, to ask God to help every nation on earth, and to help us to know Jesus better. Today we light the candle of Christmas and we rejoice that Jesus is born. He is the 'Wisdom of God', the 'Key of David', the 'King of the Nations' and 'Emmanuel'. All these titles belong to him, because he is God become a human being. All our prayers begin and end in him.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High God, we worship you. Lord Jesus Christ, son of Mary, born in a stable, we worship you, today and always.

Amen



Theme 3


You could choose a particular place/situation in the world to intercede for throughout Advent, adding specific biddings each week.

Week 1: Hope



We light this first candle to pray for hope.

We pray for ourselves and for everyone. We ask that our hope will be fixed on God and that God will inspire us to hope for good things.

We pray for everyone who feels that their hope has gone. May they find a new hope that shines like this candle flame.

Lord Jesus Christ, hope of our hearts and hope for the world, come close to us this Advent.

Amen




Week 2: Peace



We lit the first candle to pray for hope.

We light this second candle to pray for peace; peace for ourselves and for the whole world. We ask for the peace of mind that comes from seeing things clearly.

We pray for everyone who lives in the midst of conflict or war. May they find some sign of peace that shines like this candle flame.

Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of peace, reign in our hearts and in all the world. Come close to us this Advent.

Amen



Week 3: Joy



We lit the first candle to pray for hope. We lit the second candle to pray for peace.

We light the third candle to pray for joy, for ourselves and for everyone. We give thanks for the beauty of joy and the way it comes to us when we don't expect it. We pray for everyone who feels no joy. May they find some hint of joy that shines like this candle flame.

Lord Jesus Christ, joy of the hearts that know you, fill us and all your world with joy. Come close to us this Advent.

Amen




Week 4: Love



We lit the first candle to pray for hope. We lit the second candle to pray for peace. We lit the third candle to pray for joy.

We light the fourth candle to pray for love. We pray for the love which is patient and kind, and the love which goes on caring and believing. May we show this love to one another and be open to welcome the love of God into our hearts.

We pray for everyone who feels unloved, and for every time it is difficult to love others. May we see some sign of love that shines like this candle flame.


Lord Jesus Christ, you showed us that God is love. Help us to live in love, so that we live in God. Come close to us this Advent.

Amen



Christmas Eve / Christmas morning:



We lit the first candle to pray for hope. We lit the second candle to pray for peace. We lit the third candle to pray for joy. We lit the fourth candle to pray for love.

Now we light the Christmas candle and we rejoice that Jesus is born.

He is hope, peace, joy and love for all the world.

A Saviour is born to us today. Alleluia!

Lord Jesus Christ, you bring the life of God into the world. Fill us with your light, now and always.

Amen



Reflections



When the lectionary changed in the Church of England (from ASB to the Common Lectionary), I was aware that the pattern of themes I was using with the Advent Wreath no longer matched the Sunday Gospel readings. Although this match is not essential, it did give the opportunity to re-visit this tradition and realise that there are probably many more ways of using this wreath than I had ever thought.

Above is a selection of resources for three themes, each of which would make the journey through Advent a different experience. The first is a traditional pattern (where Old Testament characters help us to reflect on Jesus), but with Mary moved to the fourth Sunday, to fit better with the lectionary.

The second theme moves away from this tradition and is a selection from the devotion of the Great 'O's (traditionally used as antiphons to the Magnificat from December 16th to Christmas Eve). The Great 'O's draw on the Old Testament prophets to give seven titles to Jesus and to pray with longing for his coming. The disadvantage here is that we can only use four of the seven, but perhaps these could be varied in different years. They certainly highlight some topics for prayer which are absent from the first theme.

The third theme is probably the most radical and the most focussed on intercession. Praying for the world fits well with the season of Advent, so it would be fruitful to combine the topics of hope, peace, joy and love with specific prayers for a particular place or situation. I have also suggested adding symbols to the evergreen wreath (suggestions are given with the outlines). I will continue to try to think creatively about this tradition, and I would be interested to hear about othersí experiences - putting these resources to practical use, or developing other patterns.

Rachel Nicholls          
St Bene'ts Church       

Author of "The Year in Colour" and
"The Feast is Ready to Begin"