Sunday, December 06, 2020

Liturgy w/communion for December 13, 2020 (Advent 3 - B)

 Texts: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Call to Worship
When God restores our fortune,
our dreams will come true.
We will sing "Glory!" to our God;
we will rejoice in our Savior's birth.
Our mouths shall be filled with laughter;
joy shall chime from our lips.
God has made it clear:
those who serve are God's children.
Then we will proclaim:
'look what the Lord has done':
so others will know beyond any doubt
how the Holy One has blessed us with hope.
We wept  -  now we will cheer "Joy!  Joy!"
We were lost - now we will run home laughing.
For God has picked us up where we fell;
God has kept the promises made so long ago.

Prayer of the Day 

Lover of justice:
you flex your righteousness,
   and scatter evil to the wind;
you plant hope in our hearts
   and reap a bumper crop;
you wipe away the tears 
from our eyes,
   and anoint us with joy's oil.

Servant of God:
you bandage our souls
   as you take our wounds upon yourself;
you set us free from sin,
   by being bound to the cross;
you console the grieving,
   by carrying death
   to its resting place.

Spirit of Passion:
when sin strips us of life,
   clothe us in salvation's finery;
when we are deafened
by the peddlers of fear,
   whisper the Good News to us;
when we shiver in death's winter,
   wrap us in the shawl of hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
anoint us with your grace,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God's promise to us is eternal.  God wishes to bless us with hope, with joy, with life.  But our desires lead us to reject God and these blessings.  Let us confess how too often we choose the path of tears, rather than the joy which can lead us to God's heart.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   We try not to do any evil, Anointing God, but it is so hard to let go of those little things we enjoy - gossiping about the pregnant girl in the neighborhood; making light of the accomplishments of a co-worker; daydreaming about someone else's partner.
   Forgive us, Loving God.  You have freely given us salvation, yet we act as if we are the ones who paid for it.  Help us to rejoice always in your grace, and to give thanks in every moment for that life we receive through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept    
Assurance of Pardon
Go, and take God's Good News to others:
   to those held captive by sin;
   to those cradling broken hearts;
   to those grieving lost relationships.
God forgives us all and makes us new.
Even as we rejoice in God's mercy, we will tell everyone we meet, "God has done such wondrous things for us, and wants to do the same for you!"  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer in these moments be light for those in the shadows of society, be food for those who hunger, refreshment for those parched by life, and hope for all who cry out to you, O God.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of peace be with you.
And also with you.
May the Prince of peace fill your hearts.
We open them to the healing and hope offered in these moments.
May the Spirit of peace teach you new songs of joy.
We will learn them, so we can sing without ceasing.

Creation took place in chaos,
Gardener of glory,
as you spoke of life and beauty
and your Spirit anointed with
   food enough to feed the hungry,
   stars scattered over desert skies,
   seeds of hope growing into forests of justice.
You offered all these gifts 
to those created in your image,
inviting us to live with you,
   but we only gave answers
   to the foolish questions of sin and death.
Time and again, you sent prophets,
women and men anointed by the Spirit,
   yet we despised their words,
   believing their voices to be hollow.
Then, so your mercy might stretch
from age to every age,
you sent Jesus into our midst,
the sign of your grace which never ends.

As we gather for your feast this day,
as we would be bathed in joy's oil,
praises tumble out from our hearts:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the everlasting covenant.
All creation sings gladness to you.
Glory to God in the highest!

Blessed is the Lover of justice who comes to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your holiness took place in humanity,
God who sees us for who we are,
as your Child was born into poverty.
Your word of love,
   he came to speak hope to the oppressed,
   not tell them to wait patiently.
Your anointing oil of life,
   he came to heal our wounds,
   not to pick at the scabs.
Your incomparable compassion,
   he came to wipe our tears,
   not to make us grieve.
Your repairer of our brokenness,
   he came to knock down
   the walls of death,
rebuilding them into the bridge
we cross to resurrection love.

As we draw closer to the celebration of his birth,
as we long to follow Jesus beyond Bethlehem,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to scatter the arrogance of death;
Christ was raised, picking up resurrection and
   carrying it into the new dawn;
Christ will return, as your love stretches
   to the end of time.

Life takes place here and now,
as you pour out your Spirit
upon those gathered around the Table,
and on the gifts prepared for the meal.
The bread which is broken,
not only feeds us, but gives us the compassion
to hear the voices of those crying
   in the wilderness of want,
   in the deserts of despair,
   in the forests of fear,
   in the hollowness of hate.
The cup of grace touches us 
so we will not douse the Spirit, but be
   voices of justice,
   repairers of poverty's potholes,
   lock-pickers of addiction's cells,
   weavers of garments of kindness.

And when you gather us with our sisters
and brothers at the end of time,
we will be fed by your gifts
as we rejoice without ceasing,
praising you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The God who makes everything whole,
sends us forth to bring healing to the broken-hearted
and to comfort the mourners in our midst.
The Christ who comes to be with us,
sends us forth to stand with the oppressed,
to release those held captive by sin,
to invite the lonely into our lives.
The Spirit who calls you to faithfulness,
sends us forth to proclaim the gospel
that today is God's moment,
the day when all people will be blessed.

(c) Thom M. Shuman