for Advent 2014: The Feel of Waiting


The short season of Advent is rich in liturgy and text.  The setting and worship space call us to the season of anticipation in a variety of ways.  One way to engage with the season is to fill the baptismal font with objects that call out themes in the day’s scripture readings.  (These objects could also be set to the side of the font, on a stand, if replacing the water in the font is not desired.)  Placing something new in the baptismal font engages lesser-used senses like smell and touch, and brings attention to the lectionary readings in a new way.

Sunday Scripture Object
Advent 1,
November 30
Mark 13:24-37:  “Keep alert” Lit candles
Advent 2,
December 7
Isaiah 40:1-11:  “In the wilderness”
Mark 1:1-8:  John the Baptist
Advent 3,
December 14
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11:  “A garland instead of ashes” Pine needles
Advent 4,
December 21
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16:  “A house of cedar”
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26:  “God the rock of my salvation”
Cedar chips or stones

Lectionary scripture:
Texts from the season of Advent, Year B:
* 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
* Isaiah 40:1-11
* Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
* Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
* Mark 1:1-8
* Mark 13:24-37

Liturgical elements involved:
Baptismal font

Appropriate for:
* Advent, but could be expanded for other seasons

Supplies needed:
– baptismal font, or a basket/bowl on a stand at the entrance
– bowl for water
– a few candles (tea lights or votives)
– sand
– pine needles (stripped from a garland or cutting)
– cedar chips (such as used for landscaping — and the fresher the better) or smooth stones


Key people:
– Whoever will set up the font
– Pastor or preacher


1.  Consider your context.  How often is the baptismal font used?
– If people frequently enter the sanctuary and dip their fingers in the font, removing all the water from it will be rather jarring.  A better solution might be to set a basket or bowl on the stand next to the font.  Alternatively, the baptismal font could be filled with sand, needles, cedar chips, and so on and then have a smaller bowl of water laid inside that.

2.  Consider how you will introduce the change.
– There could be a short line in the bulletin noting the object of the week and the Scripture it connects to.
– The pastor or preacher could mention the object during the sermon, even if the sermon is not on the related text.
– Mention of the object could be made during the Prayers of the People.  For example:
God of comfort, you come into the world seeking to free us from bondage.  
      Where we have been marked with ashes, you have longed to give us a garland of joy.
After the first week, worshippers should be invited to touch the objects in the font if they so choose.

3.  Gather supplies.
Consider involving the congregation:  are there kids who would enjoy lighting the candles?  Is there an interior design expert who might have lovely candles or smooth stones to contribute?  How about a construction contractor who has access to sand and cedar chips?



Mention of the change in the font should be made each week; see #2 in Preparation.


Printable PDF


4 thoughts on “for Advent 2014: The Feel of Waiting

  1. Humble Walk Lutheran Church in Saint Paul, Minn. is letting me try this out there. Here’s the accompanying litany we wrote:

    Reader: God, we gather in from the streets of the world, our minds and hands full of work for the days ahead.

    Reader: In the busyness of the Christmas season, we can be eaten up by our wastefulness, our want for more, our neglect of those in need.

    Reader: Surrounded by cheerful decorations, we can hide our struggles and our fears.

    All: We have more than enough. Yet we want and we crave what we think we need.

    Reader: In the clamor of the season, we can miss your songs of justice and joy.

    Reader: In the speed of our days, we forget to rest in you.

    All: We want more than this. But we don’t know how to let go.

    Pastor: Hear the good news:
    Advent 1 (Mark 13:24-37)
    No matter what we lose, all that is beautiful will remain.
    No matter what you forget, there is a God who remembers.
    No matter how dark the world, God’s light will not go out.

    Advent 2 (Mark 1:1-8)
    No matter how crooked the road, there is a God who walks it with us.
    No matter how deep the water, there is a God who bears up our heads.
    No matter how sandy the short, there is a God who sets us on safe ground.

    Advent 3 (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11)
    No matter who we have wronged, there is a God who releases us.
    No matter how we are hurt, there is a God who longs to restore us.
    No matter how burnt up and burned down we are, God sweeps out the ash and hangs a garland of joy.

    Advent 4 (Luke 1:26-38 — we deviated from the original plan, so we can have a Mary Sunday)
    No matter how small we feel, there is a God who sees us.
    No matter what surprises us, there is a God who remains full of grace.
    No matter how we have fallen, God bears us up on wings of promise.

    All: Amen. Come, Jesus, light of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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