At the opening of the service, Karl quipped that it was the "faithful remnant" in attendance.
Announcements included a 4pm Christmas Eve service. UCN's isn't until 10pm or something, so I could probably attend this one and still get a train home in time.
"The Advent Candles are Lighted"
I was pleased to see that it was done much the same way I remember from growing up in UCN -- a family (in this case, Jill and Pierre and their daughter Corinne) goes up and reads a Bible passage and says a bit about the Theme and then lights the appropriate candle. I still want the "We light the candle of  today, the giver of  is come," though. And the talking bit was about ancient and modern prophets (the reading was Isaiah 9:2). I did remember from research during my ecumenical Advent 2005, that there are traditions that name the candles something totally different, prophets and suchlike. I grew up with Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy, though.
Call to Worship:
[One] It is the hour now for you to wake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
[All] the night is advance, the day is at hand.
[One] Let us then throw off the works of darkness
[All] and put on the armor or light.
Opening Prayer (unison):
God of our salvation, your vision for a new creation and your gift of peace comes to us in sweeping revelations and in tiny signs of hope. Kindle our hearts that we might be a hopeful people. Keep us from growing weary of waiting, lest we miss the glory of your appearing. Even so, come quickly, O God. Amen.
(United Church of Canada, adapted)
I didn't really register it while I was saying it, but I really like this -- comes to us in sweeping revelations and in tiny signs of hope. Kindle our hearts that we might be a hopeful people.
Hymn: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" (insert)
Choral Call to Prayer
Sarah talked about coldness and darkness and burdens, and I had to adjust my brain because I was so pleased at the weather walking to church this morning [weather.com said at 10am it was 23F, felt like 17F. Unlike yesterday, there was no wind.] even though intellectually I know that most people don't like the cold and that the decreasing amounts of daylight depress lots of people.
Prayer of Confession (unison):
God, we confess that it is not easy for us to wait for you. Our world worships the power that acts quickly through force. It is difficult for us to wait for the power of your rule which comes slowly through love. We admit, that while claiming to desire your way, we take part in the ways of our broken world. We leave little room for you to act in our lives.
We turn to you now in repentance and openness in your Spirit. Forgive us, and show us how to wait faithfully for the fulfillment of your promises. Amen.
(UCC Book of Worship, adapted)
Words of Assurance, Gloria
During the Passing of the Peace, I went to shake Mike's hand and he was like, "It's okay, you can hug." I mostly shake hands at CHPC 'cause there are so many people and I don't actually wanna hug them all anyway, but I was very pleased by this because I do like Mike a lot.
Near the end, Karl literally used the phrase "call us to order."
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24: 36-44
Sermon: "What Do You Expect?"
Karl talked about how the people of these Scripture passages had such sure faith that God's kingdom was coming soon, that this life with all its bad things would come to an end and be replaced with a new and better world of peace and abundance and etc. Near the end he asked: Do we share our ancestor's faith and hope in the future?
Affirmation of Faith
In the life, death, and resurrection of JesusHymn: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (insert -- vs. 2&3)
God's promises were kept.
All that we can ever hope for was present in Christ.
But the work of God in Christ is not over.
God calls us to hope for more than we have yet seen.
The hope God gives us is ultimate confidence
that supports us when lesser hopes fail us.
We do not know when the final day will come.
In our time we see only broken and scattered signs
that the renewal of all things is under way.
But we see Jesus as Sovereign.
As he stands at the center of our history,
we are confident he will stand at its end.,
He will judge all people and nations.
Evil will be condemned and roted out of God's good creation.
There will be no more tears or pain.
All things will be made new.
The fellowship of human beings with God and each other will be perfected.
-excerpt from 1977 PCUS Declaration of Faith ( which Karl described as "stunning" but which I was unimpressed by)
Prayers of the People, Focus on Mission, Offering, Prayer of Dedication
"The Sacrament of Communion"
As last month, we all formed a "circle" at the front of the sanctuary, though we skipped the intinction option this time. Shelley (who's blind) was there, with her guide dog, and I didn't notice, but Rachel and Gusti were talking after Coffee Hour about how we'd given Communion to a dog and how great that was -- since all creation is involved in the redemption of the world and such.
Hymn: "Savior of the Nations Come" (vs. 1-3)
Hymn: "Come. O Long Expected Jesus" (insert, v.1)
After service, I saw Rachel holding one of the Communion cup trays.
I said: "You've only been coming here like three weeks and already we've conscripted you to help."
She said she's been an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church for 10 years (she's 25), though she's actually never served communion. (Whereas I've done so maybe 2 or 3 times at CWM, since the lay reader usually does so -- since we have a lengthy responsive Communion liturgy -- despite not being a member of that church or even a Methodist; yeah communion of all believers.)
After Coffee Hour, as we were heading out, I told Rachel I should probably get her contact info at some point, and as we were putting info into cell phones Sarah G. noticed us and joked that she'd better leave us alone.
Rachel: "It's okay, we're into group stuff." Hai, she's great sometimes.
CHPC has an "Advent Readings and Meditations For Advent and Christmas 2007" booklet ("Meditations by Members and Friends of Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church"). The cover says "Unto Us A Child Is Born" with a child's drawing of a woman kneeling in prayer beside a manger containing a baby.
In the Introduction, Pierre explains:
Five issues ago, we purchased cover paper for these Advent booklets. The packages contained five colors and paper enough for five years. This year we're left with blue. My Presbyterian wife and Advent booklet collaborator, showing signs of 25 years; marriage to a Catholic husband, took this as a sure sign that for this issue we should have a Marian theme. (I swear it wasn't my idea!) [....]+
Unto her a child was born, and not just any child. She is a model to us because she accepted and carried divinity within herself [...]. Christian tradition early gave Mary the title Theotokos, a Greek word often translated as "mother of God" but meaning literally "God bearer." I prefer "God bearer" because, while only Mary was the mother of Jesus, any one of us might be---and we are every one of us called to be---God bearers. In Isaiah's words we affirm: Unto us a child is born. [...]
But who among us is worthy to be a God bearer? By the standard of the Immaculate Conception, none. Yet God is born to us anyway. This is the remarkable thing: that though we are what we are ---limited in so many ways, fragile, broken, mired in a human condition of sin and suffering, so far from comprehending the Divine Other---God in Jesus comes to us, even entrusts God's self to our care. Like Mary, we are asked to be God bearers, nurturers of God's life within ourselves and bearers of that life to others.
We do that, in part, through these readings and shared meditations. Unto us all a child is born.
Today's reading was Isaiah 2:1-5 (RSV). Craig did the Meditation, blah blah blah Israel-Palestine and peace.
joy sadhana for Advent (1)
I decided last weekend that I wanted to do joy sadhana as my Advent discipline this year.
"Joy Sadhana is a daily practice in the observation of joy." -mylittleredgirl [more info]
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before our God to prepare the ways, to give knowledge of salvation to God's people by the forgiveness of sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Five good things about today:
1. Beautiful cold weather!
2. Yummy filling Chinese food for dinner at CWM.
3. IT SNOWED!
4. I wore my sparkly gold sweater (again).
5. Not having an unhappy tummy at all today. (This had been happening a lot this past week.)
6. My Internet didn't cut out at all today. (It had been doing so for some weeks now.)
Three things I did well today:
1. I stayed awake through the whole sermon at CHPC.
2. I helped with the setting up of the creche at CHPC during Coffee Hour.
3. I talked to Gusti and Rachel about not fitting in at liberal churches.
4. I asked Rachel for her contact info.
5. I did laundry (and put it away) and dishes.
6. I lifted up dialogue with those with whom we disagree in a discussion about peace at CWM.
7. I finished my most recent batch of LJ writeups.
8. I lifted up Certain People in the Prayers of the People at both my churches today.
Two things I am looking forward to (doing [better]) tomorrow:
1. free cupcake!
2. Making an electronic folder (I already have a hard copy folder) for the visitor evaluation forms, because it occurred to me that I will probably need those later on.
BONUS: Having fewer writeups to finish.