An Introduction to Advent Worship

Since we are now well into the sacred season of Advent, I want to share an entry from A.C.T. Intl’s resource site,  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit this remarkable treasury of useful and informative tools for pastors, worship leaders, Christian artists, educators, and students. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing entries for Christmas and Epiphany. I hope you enjoy these brief samples.

Advent is the time of preparation for the birth of Christ. Historically, however, Advent was not the beginning of the Christian year, but the end. The original themes of Advent focused on the second coming of Jesus. Gradually Advent also came to mean preparing for the coming of Christ. Today we inherit both themes:

  • The end of the Christian year and the expectation of the second coming of Christ, and
  • The beginning of the Christian year and the expectancy of the birth of Christ, the Redeemer.

An Advent full of color and bursting with drama and appropriate symbols will serve the meaning of Advent and ready the people for the second coming of Christ and for the birth of the Son, which historically comes first. Among the many ways to convey the spirit of joyous anticipation, your church can . . .

  • Consider the worship environment for Advent. Many churches are “greened” this time of year. Some churches green the sanctuary at the beginning of Advent, while others wait until the third week of Advent (the traditional date for greening the church is December 17).
  • Plan special services that feature the readings appropriate to Advent as well as music written specifically for this season.
  • Consider a service of Nine Lessons and Carols.
  • Use Advent colors. The colors of Advent are royal purple or sarum blue. These deep colors express the penitential theme of Advent.
  • Use drama to bring to life narrative portions of Scripture, such as John the Baptist’s announcement of the coming Christ.
  • Sing Advent hymns, preserving Christmas hymns for the Christmas season.