Saturday, November 21, 2020

Advent 1-B liturgy in a time of pandemic (November 29, 2020)

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

Call to Worship
In this uncertain season of Advent, we wait.
Hoping, hoping God is coming to us.
In the vagueness of these days, we try to listen.
Hoping, hoping the Word will be whispered to us.
In the weariness of our times, we wait, we listen, we watch.
Hoping, hoping the Spirit will be found in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
We have had enough feasts
of anger and bitterness,
so come,
to feed us with the simple
Bread of heaven.
every day, we are handed
steaming mugs of tears,
so come,
to hold the Cup of hope to our lips.

Every day 
seems to be the longest day
in this year which goes on and on,
so come,
using the stars in the night sky
to light the way to the grace
we long to find in Bethlehem,
where we will find a home
with you when all the 
power and wealth of the world
slams their doors in our faces,
leaving us huddled 
with all our fears and worries.

We are deafened
by all the arguments, the rhetoric,
the foolish boasts, the outright lies,
so come,
God-who-is our peace,
to fill our ears
with the angelic songs,
to pour love and wonder
into the emptiness of our souls.

God in Community, Holy in One,
come to assure is that out of these uncertain times
will come the Advent of new life, new hope,
even as we lift the prayer taught to us by Jesus, saying,
(the Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We try to stay faithful but fail.
We long to care for others but end up focusing on us.
We think we are being safe but know how often we live dangerously.
Yet, God knows our foolishness, and forgives our mistakes, so we can be made new people.  Let us pray, as we say,

Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness
for we live in fretful times,
wondering if we will ever come out of them.
   Come to us, with your grace.
for we long to be faithful in these days,
but find it all to easy to be seduced by worry.   
   Come to us, with your hope.
for we try to stay apart for others and ourselves,
but find it easy to listen to those who 
mock us for being so foolish.
  Come to us, with your love.

Word of Flesh:
  have mercy;
Friend of the poor:
  have mercy;
Bridegroom of the faithful:
  have mercy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In the midst of all our uncertainty, we are reminded of the old truths, that God loves us, God forgives us, God restores us to new life..
The Child has come, bringing grace, offering mercy, and wrapping us in arms of love!  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

You gift us, Loving God, not so we will hoard, but would share with others; not that we might accumulate more, but offer gifts to those who have so little.  In the waiting, may we realize the wanting; in the listening, may we hear the brokenness, in the watching, may we see the weariness, and pour out our gifts, our lives, and our hearts on others.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
In this Advent of disquiet, remember God comes to us.
God approaches to be with you, as well.
Let us offer our empty hearts to our God 
as we begin this journey to Bethlehem.
God approaches to fill them with grace and hope.
With weary souls, and trembling voices,
let us sing praises to our God.
God approaches to teach us new songs of love.

In our weariness, God-of-that-first-moment,
tell us the story of how 
you could no longer wait,
but ripped apart the fabric of chaos,
to make 
   the grass to blanket the meadows,
   the backdrop for all the stars flung against it,
   the swaddling clothes for puppies and kittens.
Each, and everyone, of your wonders
were crafted for those formed in your image 
so we could be with you forever,
  but overwhelmed by the virus of sin,
   we chose to quarantine ourselves from you.
You sent men and women to us, 
so we might continue to hear your heart
and discover what you do all around us, 
   but like the scientists and health folks
   today, we chose to ignore them.
That is when you chose to come to us
in that Child of peace who could save us.

With those who try to be cautious in these days,
and those who don’t seem to care,
we sing your praises this day:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who comes to us.
Creation always pours out its praise to you.
Glory to you in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is coming to us even now.
Glory to you in the highest!

In your weariness of all our foolishness,
you could have clung to your holiness
and left us on our own, to find our way,
but you chose to love us,
coming to be one of us in Jesus.
He came to a people 
whose anxiety about the future was high,
   to remind them, and the generations to come,
   that you are in control, even when it seems doubtful.
He came to those who struggled
in the deep poverty of despair,
   to empty his pockets of all
   the hope and grace they needed,
   just as you do for us in these days.
He came to his kinfolk
who were weakened by fear,
   to strengthen them with the assurance
   that the road they walked was well known to him.  
And when death thought that it
could defeat him with its power,
   he simply waited for you
   to bring him out of its clutches
   with your resurrection power.

With those who try to stay alert,
and with those who toss and turn trying to sleep,
we proclaim that mystery which is our faith:

Christ died, giving his life for all;
Christ was raised, the light of resurrection showing the way;
Christ will come, gathering us in love and hope.

You know how apprehensive we are
in these days which go on and on,
so we pray that you would pour out
your Spirit on your fretful people
and the gifts which remind us of your love.
In Jesus, you came to know 
our struggles, our fears, our worries,
and in the bread which is broken for us,
we are given the life
which will enable us 
   to be your hope for the forgotten,
   to be your justice for the overlooked,
   to be your light in the dim moments of this year.
You poured your life into Jesus,
who emptied himself for us,
and as the Cup of grace is poured out for us,
may we empty ourselves so we might be
   the companion to the weary,
   the community for the lonely,
   the peace for all divided neighborhoods,
   the love to those who are dismissed.

And when human time has come to an end,
and you gather us around your table
with our sisters and brothers,
we will sing our joyful praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

on this pilgrimage of uncertainty,
may we remember God has walked
this road many times before.

as we live through these endless moments,
may we remember Jesus shares hope
with us every day, every day.

in this season filled with isolation from others,
may we remember that the Spirit
knows our loneliness and cradles us in love.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman