Sunday, November 25, 2018

Liturgy with communion for December 2, 2018 (First Sunday of Advent - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1st Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36 Call to Worship Because of You, Righteous God, we begin our journey to Bethlehem, trusting that You will lead us down the paths of faithfulness. For You, Child Jesus, we wait, on this day of anticipation and hope, in the days of doubt and worry. With You, Spirit of Advent, we serve, those for whom this season is not one of joy; those whose lives are empty of family and friends. Prayer of the Day Because of You, Fulfiller of promises, we come to know the way to Bethlehem, where justice is born to a shunned family, where the riches of Your love are born into poverty. Because of You, Sign of our redemption, grace sprouts hope in the winter of our despair, goodness overcomes evil in the streets of our cities, love transforms hate in the hardest of hearts. Because of You, Abnegator of our fears, we are taught to pray in the shadows of our worries, and to trust that Your peace is preferable to those easy prejudices sold on every corner. Because of You, God in Community, Holy in One, we will be led in this holy season to the place of our hope and redemption, even as we pray, saying, (The Lord’s Prayer) Call to Reconciliation If only our hurtful words, our damaging actions, our foolish choices would just go away.
But they don’t, and so we offer them, as well as ourselves, to God for forgiveness
and for our healing. Please join me, as we pray together saying, Unison Prayer for Forgiveness The chances we have to be more compassionate; the moments to offer hope to a lonely friend; the good fortune we could give to those who have so little. The signs are all around us, Good and Upright God, of how we fail to live as your people. Do not meditate on our bungling ways, God of steadfast love, but remember the mercy of Your heart. That mercy which forgives us; that mercy which makes us whole; and especially, that living mercy who came down one night so long ago, Jesus the Advent of our redemption. Silence is kept Assurance of Pardon Raise your heads, children of God! In the bleak mid-winter of our lives, our redemption draws near. In the springtime of our doubts, the kingdom of God approaches. Even when we feel most alone, the One who comes to us is the salvation promised so long ago. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen. Prayer of Dedication/Offering Because of You, Abundant God, we have blessings to offer to others. May You use our gifts to restore hope to the despairing, to feed the hungry, and to fill the empty hearts of the lonely. This we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen. Great Prayer of Thanksgiving May the coming God be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts, people of God, your redemption draws near. We will offer them to the One who leads us down paths of faithfulness. Join together in singing thanksgiving to God, our righteousness. We praise the One for whom we wait, this day and every day. The days of creation came, God of goodness, when You spoke on that first morning, calling forth budding flowers for each spring, warm breezes for summer days, tumbling leaves in the autumn, bright, brittle stars on winter nights. You did all this, and so much more, so we might discover Your ways, but we chose to walk the paths paved by sin and death. Prophets came, speaking of Your promises and calling us back to Your truths, but we continued to reflect on the teachings of temptation. So You sent Jesus to us, Your Word which will never fade. With those whose hearts are strong in holiness, with those who long for justice for all people, we offer our songs of thanksgiving: Holy, holy, holy are You, God our righteousness. Because of You, all creation awaits Your advent. Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to us in weakness. Hosanna in the highest! You are holy, God of our salvation, and Your Child is the bearer of justice. He set aside great glory to come incognito to us. Knowing our fears, he showed us how to trust in You. Feeling our despairs, he filled us with Your overflowing hope. Experiencing our death, he went into the grave so death might become a safe place for us, and we would receive Your redemption. As we set out on this Advent journey, as we seek to walk the way to Bethlehem, we remember that mystery we call faith: Christ died, the Branch broken on the unjust tree; Christ was raised, declaring ‘the Lord is my resurrection!’ Christ will return, the advent of God’s glory and grace for all. Come now to Your children gathered at the Table, pouring out Your Spirit on the gifts of the Bread and of the Cup. This is the bread which, though broken, strengthens us to stand up for justice and to face the bullies named terror and hate. This is the cup which overflows with grace, so we might transform our communities into safe places for all people; so we might see our sisters and brothers in those the world would have us fear. And when we raise our heads to see our redemption draw near at the end of all time, we will join our sisters and brothers in singing Your praises forever and ever, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen. Sending Now may our God prepare us to serve our sisters and brothers. We will devote ourselves to walking with others to Bethlehem. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ steer us into all the places
we do not want to go.
We will throw ourselves into the mission of feeding the hungry, into the privilege of learning from the poor. Now may the Holy Spirit move us to increase in love for others. We will take up the cause of justice in every corner of our lives, we will help to bring the kingdom of hope near to everyone around us.

(c) Thom M. Shuman