An Advent Liturgy for Children and Families

This is a liturgy we created as a family for the season of Advent. Originally, we created it for our Sunday home church practice when we couldn’t go to services because of COVID. (If you want to read more about how we did home church with a 5 and 2 year old you can read this post.) During the week, we just use the very beginning of this liturgy to sing one verse of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and light our Advent wreath for a sixty second pause before we go to bed. Then we use the full (20 minute) liturgy on Sunday afternoons. Most of the pictures are from a magical Maryland snowstorm 8 or 9 years ago and a foraged advent wreath from that land of holly and juniper berries. Here’s a printable version.

[Note: Children often love to process in, walking into the place you’re going to have your service while singing. They can carry a Bible, a cross, an icon, or candle–although I find having kids carry the whole advent wreath and candles too precarious. If you don’t have an advent icon, you can use a picture from a children’s Bible or Christmas book like Madeleine L’Engle’s The Glorious Impossible.]

The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni  Chapel by Giotto]: Madeleine L'Engle, Giotto, A. Richard Turner:  9780671686901: Books

Processional Song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall Come to You O Israel

Opening Verse

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall show forth your praise.
Our Sovereign and Savior draws near:
O come, let us worship.

Lighting the Advent Wreath Candles

This week we light the candle(s) of

(week 1: ) HOPE

(week 2: ) HOPE and PEACE

(week 3: ) HOPE, PEACE, and JOY

(week 4:) HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE

The light from these candles, that grow brighter every week, reminds us that:

Jesus Christ is the light of the world!

Song: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.

Reading: A Psalm

Psalm 27 verses 1,5,13-14 NIV

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

 5 For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Song: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega —
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see
evermore and evermore.

Reading: Gospel of St. Luke

Read the Gospel passage below, or select one of the Gospel Lectionary Readings for the week. I like to use blocks and peg people and our nativity set to act out the story while another adult reads it (or we listen to an audio recording). Then I retell the story again in my own words, again using the figures to portray the action, stopping to ask reflection questions about what the people might be feeling or wondering.

{Week 1} Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah and Elizabeth: The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

{Week 2} Luke 1:26-38 The Virgin Mary: The Birth of Jesus Foretold

{Week 3} Luke 1:39-56 Mary Visits Elizabeth & Mary’s Song of Praise

{Week 4} Luke 1:57-80 (through Luke 2:6?) The Birth of John the Baptist & Zechariah’s Prophecy

Song: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

Prayer: The Apostle’s Creed (stand)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth;

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

Song: Wait on the Lord

Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart. (x4)

Prayer of Confession: (Kneeling)

Dear Jesus,
I love you.
I’m sorry for my bad choices, please change my heart so I only want good things.
Thank you for being with me and thank you for. . .
Please help. . .

Prayers of the People

[Note: Children often enjoy using their fingers for this prayers of the people. 5-Finger Prayer: Begin with Thumb (those closest to you: family), then pointer (those that point you in the right direction: teachers and pastors), then middle (tallest finger for those who lead us), ring (weakest finger: poor and needy), (pinkie: smallest finger): for ourselves and our needs. Then end with a time for laying hands and praying for each person: A time for a short prayer for each person present concluding with Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.]

Dear God,
Thank you for our family. Please bless them and care for them. Help us to love each other as you loved us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Thank you for our teachers and pastors who teach us to follow you. Please bless them and help them teach as you taught.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Thank you for our bishops, governor, and president. Please bless them and help them lead as you led.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Please be with all the poor, needy and hurting people. Please bless them, help them, heal them, and let us be a part of caring for them body and soul.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Thank you that you are always with us and take care of us. Please bless us and help us come to you with all our needs and trust you because you love us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Song: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.

Prayer: Collects for Advent

First Sunday of Advent: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent: Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Song: Doxology

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Closing Blessing

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Thanks Be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Recessional Song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall Come to You O Israel

Do you have special prayers or traditions that help your family get ready for Christmas during the Advent season?


This post was originally published at, and is reprinted with permission.


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Amy Rogers Hays
Amy Rogers Hays

Amy Rogers Hays lives in Milwaukee with her husband Evan and their two kids Jackson (6) and Lily (4). Amy loves trees, coffee, and fairy tales. She writes at about making space for creativity and filling days with long walks, good food, morning prayers, and the reading and writing of good books. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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