Sunday, December 04, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for December 11, 2022 (Advent 3 - A)

 Texts:  Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

Call to Worship
One: Be patient!
The time is coming when
we will celebrate the birth of Jesus,
All: when we will sing and rejoice,
dancing with everlasting joy.
One: But for now, be patient,
as we wait in this time called Advent,
All: when God speaks through dreams and visions,
and we are invited to dance
down the holy way into the kingdom.
One: For this is Advent, as we prepare to join the world
in celebrating the Creator of goodness and hope,
All: when those who limp will teach new dance steps,
when the voiceless sing, ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.’

Prayer of the Day
God who approaches:
you gather the ignored,
   so you can accomplish the unexpected
   for a world which no longer cares;
with bread broken into pieces,
   you restore your shattered creation;
as you let go of your Child,
   our emptiness is filled
   with immeasurable grace.

Ever-new, always-scarred
Jesus of the forgotten:
through you,
   those whose voices are silenced
   hear the whispers of angels
   on hillsides and in shelters;
by you,
   those who are knocked over
   lead the way into your kingdom;
with you,
   those who wander in shadows
   are clasped tight in your love.

Breath of Advent:
you pour the promises of the Word
   into the shy and silent
   so they can carol of grace;
you stretch out your hand
to all in despair’s exile,
   to place them on the
   holy way of hope;
you gather up the scraps
of our scattered fears,
   to build a new crib
   for a refugee family.

Come, God in Community, Holy in One,
come to us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
There is no need to wait in long lines.  God is always willing to listen – to our hearts as well as our voices, as we admit how we have not cared as we could, have not shared as we should.  Let us join, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   This season is supposed to be so holy, God of Christmas, yet the din of sales pitches turns us into cynical grumps.  As we drive down the streets, the decorations on all the houses keep us from seeing the loneliness of the widower, the strained faces of those who fear the future.  We are so determined to find just the right gift or card which speaks of joy, we forget that you came so long ago to offer justice to those who have none.
   Be patient with us, God of our hearts, as we struggle to speak for the voiceless, to walk with those who have lost their way, to let go of our certainty of what really happened to long ago, and listen to the songs of children which speak of that peace which really can bring reconciliation, of that grace which really can offer hope, of that love which really can to us that night in Bethlehem, in the birth of Jesus, our Brother, our Savior. Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
One: Do not be afraid, but believe.  Our God is here, opening our eyes to see that salvation which is ours approaching us in this season of Advent.
All:We join our voices in rejoicing in God who is our Savior.  The One who calls us blessed, is the God who forgives us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We pray that with our gifts, as well as our lives, we will tell of those who are given voice, those who are put back on their feet, those who show us the way, and those who offer us grace and hope, as well.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
One: May the Creator of the Holy Way be with you.
All: And also with you.
One: Do not be afraid, people of God, but lift your hearts to the holy One.
All: Our hearts will be filled with God’s hope and grace.
One: Children of God, offer songs of goodness to the One who keeps faith forever.
All: We offer glad praises to the One who comes with justice.

One: You carved a holy way
through chaos, Unveiling God,
rejoicing with Word and Spirit as creation
   trickled down mountains to form rivers,
   birds built nests in shrubs and trees,
   bees and butterflies pollinated meadows.
These great, and good, things were
for those formed in your image
so we might be with you in wonder,
   but we were blinded by sin’s
   sparkling seductions and could not
   envision the life you offered to us.
Patiently, you sent prophets to us,
who urged us over and again to return,
   but we continued to look favorably
   upon the gifts offered by sin and death.
So you emptied your strong heart,
becoming weak in the baby
born in Bethlehem for us.

With those you have put back on their feet,
with those you knock off our presumptions,
we sing our carols to you:

All: Holy, holy, holy are you, God who does great things.
All creation shall rejoice, offering you praise.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who keeps your promises.
Hosanna in the highest!

One: Holiness is the path you walk, Gracious God,
and your Child, Jesus, is the One
who comes with justice for all your people.
When we are worry, world, and work weary,
   he comes to strengthen our hearts,
                   to stand us back on our feet.
When disappointment silences us,
   he comes to teach us
         how to proclaim the good news.
When we cannot see our way out of our foolishness,
   he comes to point us toward salvation’s dawn.
When we were held captive by sin,
   he came, giving himself in love,
   so joy might dance in our hearts,
   and we could gather bouquets
   of resurrection gladness as
         death ran away.

As we draw closer to the joy of his birth,
as we remember his death and resurrection at this feast,
we bear witness to the holy way of faith which is a mystery:

All: Christ died, trusting that your weakness destroys death;
Christ was raised, telling us of the resurrection he had seen and heard;
Christ will come again, to lead us home by the holy way of God.

One: Gather your people in these moments,
and lead us along the holy way to the Table
where the Spirit anoints the bread and the cup
and blesses all who have come for this feast.
As we are strengthened by the bread,
may we show the way toward healing
   to the imprisoned,
       the sightless,
       the sufferers of chronic pain,
       those who struggle to hear.
As we drink from grace’s cup,
may we notice what you are doing in our midst
   so grief and loneliness
   will disappear, never to be seen again.

And when all time has drawn to a close,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
at Advent’s Table in eternity with you,
we will rejoice in your forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

One: Let us journey into the world with our God,
All: to rebuild shattered hearts with hope.
One: Let us spend each day with Jesus,
All: mending brokenness with love.
One: Let us share our hearts with the Spirit,
All: so we may be with those who are waiting for peace.

(c) Thom M. Shuman