A Litany for Advent
[One] Holy God, this is earth's quiet season, the season of waiting.
[All] We rest in the shelter of your love.
[One] This is the season of darkness, when we seek stars to guide us.
[All] We trust in the light of your promise.
[One] This is the season of solitude, when we listen for our own heart's rhythm.
[All] We find warmth in the signs of your presence.
[One] This is the season to make room, a time to make ready.
[All] For we shall join the angels' chorus.
[One] Peace on earth, goodwill to all.
[All] Peace on earth, goodwill to all.
Come to us, Anointed One, come as we search the Scriptures and see God's hidden purpose; come as we walk the lonely road, needing a companion; come when life mystifies and perplexes us; come into our disappointments and unease; come unto our time together now, and, coming, open our eyes to recognize you. Amen. (Donald Hilton, adapted)
Prayer of Confession
All-embracing God, you know the cares that weigh us down and the snares that trap us. Grant us strength to confront the evil within us and to turn away from the wrong that we originate or allow. We confess that we have missed the signs of your presence and our vision is narrow and uninspired. Forgive and restore us, that we may once again live into the time of your advent. Amen. (Lavon Baylor, adapted)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Sermon: "Signs for the Season of Advent"
Affirmation of Faith
We believe in a bright and amazing God.Prayer of Christ
Who has been to the depths of despair
on our behalf,
Who has risen in splendour and majesty;
Who decorates the universe
With sparkling water and clear white light,
Twinkling stars and sharp colours,
Over and over again.
We believe that Jesus is the light of the world;
That God believes in us, and trusts us,
Even though we make the same mistakes
Over and over again.
We commit ourselves
To one another as brothers and sisters,
And to the Maker's business in the world.
God said: Let there be light.
-Abbey Worship Book
Holy One, our only home, hallowed be your name. May your day dawn, your will be done, here as in heaven. Feed us today, and forgive us as we forgive each other. Do not forsake us at the test, but deliver us from evil. For the glory, the power, and the mercy are yours, now and forever. Amen. (from "The Upper Room Worshipbook")
[Tiffany emailed me the bulletin when she asked me if I would be willing to do the Gospel reading, so you get the full order of service, with some edits, and I don't include the words for all the hymns.]
Preparing the Path: The First Sunday of Advent
Prelude and Moment of Meditation
Make me to know your ways, O God; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. God leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble the Holy way. All the paths of God are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep the covenant and God’s decrees. -Psalm 25
Advent Introit (UMH 207) "Prepare the Way of the One"
Call to Worship [written by Jeanyne Slettom, 2009]
[One] We come from the busyness of our lives, for quiet reflection, for the light of God’s love is discernible everywhere.
[All] We seek to be surprised by wonder, and set aside time to offer quiet thanks.
[One] The good news of Advent is this: Christ is coming. Christ is always coming.
[All] Let us prepare the path for coming of Christ into the world and into our lives that we might be bearers of hope this season and always.
Lighting of the Advent Candle [The Candle Liturgy is written by K. Hawker and published by Rex Hunt.]
[One] Winter is in the air:
we look for the joys ahead;
for holy-days and recreation,
waiting and discerning.
[All] Come, companion Jesus, and walk with us.
[One] Let us prepare a path for the Holy to come into our lives. Let us prepare a place in our hearts for the birth of the sacred.
[One] Why do we light one candle?
[All] This candle reminds us of the light of hope.
Hope like a seed buried deep within the earth;
hidden, covered by layers,
disappointment, struggle, pain;
buried yet stretching,
growing and becoming. Hope
like a seed becoming new life.
[All] This is why we light a candle for hope.
Opening Hymn (UMH 211) "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
I gleed when I saw this in the bulletin because when Tiffany and I talked about Advent planning, I mentioned how this is my favorite Advent hymn and it made me sad when the first Sunday in Advent last year neither of my churches did it.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Child of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come thou Wisdom from on high
No more let us in darkness abide;
To us the path of righteousness show,
And lead us in thy ways to go.
Emmanuel shines forth for thee, O Israel.
O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of thy people be.
Before thee, let all fearfulness fall;
We trust in thee: on thee alone we call.
Emmanuel shall steadfast be, O Israel.
O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse oppressive clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Emmanuel brings joy to thee, O Israel.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And now begin Thy Reign of Peace.
Emmanuel shall heal thy strife, O Israel.
Luke 21: 25-36
We clearly had an "selections from" Luke, though (although Tiffany actually talked about the fig tree bit a little in her sermon).
The days are surely coming, says our God, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up from David; who shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The Holy One is our righteousness."
Luke 21: 25-36
Jesus said to the disciples:
'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars;
on earth nations in agony, bewildered
by the clamour of the ocean and its waves;
people dying of fear as they await
what menaces the world,
for the powers of heaven will be shaken.
And then they will see the Promised One
coming in the cloud with power and great glory.
When these things begin to take place,
stand erect, hold your heads high,
because your liberation is near at hand...'
Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living person on the face of the earth.
'Stay awake, praying at all times
for the strength to survive all that is going to happen,
and to stand with confidence before the Promised One.'
Cassandra did a "nontraditional" piece -- a mashup of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World."
Contemporary Lesson: "God's Dream" by Thomas John Carlisle
God's dreamReflection [edit: blogpost version /edit]
is a day
when all flesh
in all places
of the Spirit.
A Prayer for World AIDS Day
As a worshiping community, we have been challenged by such a moment as this! A moment when we know we are living with AIDS and that we are loved and affirmed. A moment in which we can offer compassion to those with AIDS and HIV. A moment where we can sit and comfort those who suffer illness or grieve loss. A moment when we stand in solidarity with the care partners, health care workers, and researchers as they continue their diligent labor. A moment and an opportunity to be with all those who are ill with any disease. Those worried, fearful or weary. Those carrying others in prayer. In this moment: We all stand in need of God's healing.
Call to Prayer (TFWS 2202) “Come Away with Me” v. 1
Pastoral Prayer and Jesus’ Prayer
(We invite you to pray in the language or tradition in which you feel most comfortable.)
Our Creator, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kin-dom* come, your 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 yours is the kin-dom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
from the "Notes About Our Worship" on the back of the bulletin:
Communion is open to all persons. You need not be a member of this church or any church to partake of the meal. All those who desire a relationship with the Divine are welcome to the feast. We use grape juice and dairy free bread as our communion elements. Cambridge Welcoming Ministries is committed to inclusive and emancipatory language for God and humanity in our worship services. Through our language we seek to embody the vision of peace and justice known in our faith tradition and taught by Jesus. For this reason, our liturgy refers to God’s kin-dom as a way of referring to the traditional image of the vision of Shalom, God’s Reign or God’s Commonwealth in non-hierarchical ways that prioritize relationships, mutuality and familial community among all of Creation.
Offertory Hymn (TFWS 2044) "My Gratitude Now Accept, O God" v. 1&2
Passing of the Peace
Ours is an open table. You need not be United Methodist to partake. All persons who desire Christ are welcome to the feast. Regardless of your denomination, your race, gender, class, sexuality, ability or age, Christ has invited you! Come!
[The Communion Liturgy was adapted from Following Frodo.]
[One] God is with us
[All] We are not alone
[One] Christ is present here
[All] The Spirit moves within us
[One] Let us give thanks to God
[All] In memory and in hope
[One] Blessings be to you, Creator God, who in the beginning brought light and life to the world and who continues to bring it love and light everlasting.
[All] Your song of wisdom echoes through the ages, your ancient promise still brings us hope.
[One] Over the ages you have called people to embrace your hope and share your love.
[All] But even when they have closed their ears to the song you did not stop singing.
[One] You sent prophets and messengers to your people, reminding them of the promised time of peace and justice that would surround the world.
[All] They came in the midst of our despair and filled us with hope.
[One] And then you came to a young woman named Mary and laid out the promise in a new way
[All] Promising her a child, who would be called Jesus
Promising her that in her child the world would be changed
[One] And now as we prepare for that child to be born, we echo the ancient cry:
[All] O come, O come Emmanuel!
[One] As we prepare to celebrate the birth of this One, we remember the life that this baby will live.
[All] We remember how Jesus broke the bonds of human tradition to show all what the Banquet of Hope could be as he ate openly with the despised and the outcast of the world.
[One] And we remember one special meal with Jesus’ closest friends.
[All] Gathering them together in an upper room, Jesus prepared them for liberation.
The Breaking of the Bread and the Sharing of the Cup
[One] God, you poured your Spirit on Mary and she sang words of defiance and hope. And so, now we, as the priesthood of all believers sing these words of blessing and hope:
[All] Pour out your Spirit upon us gathered here. As we eat and drink may we know your presence. As we eat and drink may we be opened to the possibilities of your hope and power and may we be strengthened in our time of waiting for peace and justice so that we will have the courage to make the Advent promise a reality.
We invite all who desire the Divine in their lives to come forward. Take a piece of the bread and dip it into the cup. Take, eat and know you are God's beloved!
Hymn: "Hamba Nathi" (Come walk with us, the journey is long...)
All this we ask in the name of Jesus: feed us daily, hold us fast, calm our fears and send us forth boldly, joyfully and ever faithful in your spirit.. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Closing Hymn: "God You Alone Know What You’ve Planned" (to the tune of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear")
God, you alone know what you’ve planned For earth and sky and sea.Benediction and Grace
Creation waits your loving hand To bring in what will be.
When things we trust in shift and shake And sorrows multiply,
We hear you calling, “Keep awake! Redemption is close by!”
O Christ, you taught us, “Watch the trees As seasons change each year,
For when they bud and grow new leaves You know that summer’s near.”
May we look round this changing earth And see with faith-filled eyes
Your signs of newness, life and birth That witness to the wise.
Though heav’n and earth will pass away, Your word will still be true.
O Holy One, on that great day, We’ll be secure in you.
For at the close of history When all that’s past shall end,
The one who judges us will be No stranger, but a friend.
So by your Spirit may we share The life you’re bringing forth:
May we seek justice, end despair, And work to heal the earth.
For there’s a new day coming near With no more death or pain;
Till then, we’ll seek to serve you here And welcome in your reign.