Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Sunday of Advent - B

Texts:  Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1st Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37

Call to Worship
L:    In every season of life,
P:    God is always with us, even when we believe otherwise.
L:    In this season of waiting,
P:    Jesus reminds us that Bethlehem is the beginning of our discipleship, not the end of the journey.
L:    In this season of Advent anticipation and hope,
P:    the Spirit opens our ears to the songs of the angels.

Prayer of the Day
In this time
when hearts tremble
with fears about tomorrow:
come to us.
In those moments
when our hearts are parched
from wondering through
the wilderness of worry:
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-is-present-even-now,
to fill us with your hope.

In these days
when the powers of the world
can distract us from faith:
come to us.
In this season
when our rush to Bethlehem
keeps us from seeing you
in every one we push past:
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-is-our-Gift,
to fill us with your grace.

In those opportunities,
when we struggle to tell others
what you really mean,
come to us.
In the nights
when our souls grow cold with doubt,
come to us.
Come to us,
God-who-kindles-the-fires-faith,
to fill us with your Advent.

God in Community, Holy in One,
God-ever-always-with-us,
hear us as we pray for your coming, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
In this season of hope, joy and peace - how often
do people receive these gifts from us?  As we
begin our journey through Advent, let us put down
those failures and foolish behaviors which keep us
from getting very far.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Responsive Prayer of Confession
L:    Holy God of Advent,
        you come near to us,
       yet we continue to seal our hearts
        with indifference to a suffering world.
P:    Tear open our hearts,
        and make us more compassionate.
L:     You approach us with bundles of mercy
        to kindle our hope, but we continue to build
        our lives with the bricks of bitterness.
P:    Tear open our anger, so we might become
        more forgiving.
L:    You draw near, longing to embrace us,
        but we fold our arms, closing ourselves off
        from those all around us.
P:    Tear open our souls, so we might become
        children of Advent.
L:    God, shaper-of-our-lives:
P:    have mercy;
L:    Jesus, Word-which-does-not-pass-away:
P:    fill us with your grace;
L:    Holy Spirit, Giver-of-the-Light-of-peace:
P:    Shine through our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    Even now, God approaches us, mercy
        transcending anger, hope overcoming
        despair, life triumphing over death.  This
        is good news, my friends; this is news of
        great joy for each of us.
P:    Enriched in every grace, blessed with joy
        and hope, transformed by love, we will
        live as people of Advent.  Thanks be to
        God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May the God of Advent be with you.
P:    And also with you.
L:    People of Advent, lift up your hopes.
P:    We lift them to the One who comes
        to share our lives with us.
L:    People of hope, offer your thanksgiving to God.
P:    Joy, praise, adoration are in our hearts
        and on our lips.

At the Advent of creation,
chaos trembled at your approach,
Imaginative God,
as the moon shone the way
to your grace-filled garden
of joy and delightful grace.
Offered a feast from your plenty,
we nibbled at death's despair;
invited to drink from the fountain of life,
we filled our cups at sin's bitter well.
Faithful in every season,
you continued to send those
who offered us your tender words
of healing and hope.
But we made them the scorn
of our rebellious hearts,
laughing among ourselves at them.
So, in a moment we did not expect,
in a birth we did not recognize,
you sent Jesus, coming suddenly to us,
to gather us into your kingdom.

So, with the blameless, and the bewildered,
with those dozing off in their faith,
and those who dare not fall asleep lest they miss you,
we join our voices together,
singing our joyous wonder forever and ever:

P:    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Advent.
       Heaven and earth await the coming of your Child.
       Hosanna in the highest.

      Blessed is the One who comes to share our lives.
        Hosanna in the highest.

You approach in holiness, God of every season;
your Child, Jesus Christ, coming to bless us with joy.
Setting aside his power and majesty,
he came with tenderness and peace,
so we might know your justice.
Casting off the garments of glory,
he put on the clothes
stained by our sins,
to leave them at the foot of the cross.
seeing the hope on your face,
he turned his towards death,
tearing open the grave
and striding forth into the resurrection
promised to all.

As we prepare to celebrate his birth,
as we anticipate his return,
we tell the world of that Advent mystery we call faith:

P:    Jesus was born that we might have hope.
        Jesus died and was raised that we might have life.
        Jesus will come again to welcome us home.

Pour out the Spirit of Advent
upon the gifts of the bread and cup,
simple goodness transformed by your grace.
as the Bread is torn
to be shared by those gathered here,
tear open our shuttered hearts
so we might become more compassionate.
As the Cup of Hope touches our lips,
may we not only proclaim your love,
but speak of peace, of reconciliation,
of healing in all the broken places and people,
until those words become the lives
we have been called to as your people.

And when that hour that no one knows, comes -
and we have been gathered from the four corners
of your good and gracious creation,
we will be seated together in your grace,
praising you to the ends of eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.
And all of God's children said,
P:    Amen.

Blessing
L:    Be on guard!
P:    We do not know when Christ will show up!
L:    Be alert!
P:    Our hearts will be open to everyone we meet.
L:    Be on guard!  Be alert!
P:    We will welcome each person as if they are the Christ.

(c) 2008  Thom M. Shuman