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Week 3: Dec. 17-23

CALL TO PRAISE & PRAYER
O Lord, open our lips.
And we shall declare your praise.

ADVENT HYMN
"Hail to the Lord's Anointed" (UMH #203)

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PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
New every morning is your love, great God of light; 
     all day long you are working for good in the world. 
Stir up in us desire to serve you, 
     to live peacefully with our neighbors, and
     to spend each day in expectation of your son. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
Old Testament: Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11
Gospel: John 1: 6-8, 19-28

REFLECTION

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Together, let us pray for:
the people of our congregation . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

all who struggle or are in trouble . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the concerns of this community . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the world, its people, and its leaders . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the church universal . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the communion of saints . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

BLESSING
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

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Week 2: Dec. 10-16

CALL TO PRAISE & PRAYER
O Lord, open our lips.
And we shall declare your praise.

ADVENT HYMN
"Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates" (UMH #213)

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PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
New every morning is your love, great God of light; 
     all day long you are working for good in the world. 
Stir up in us desire to serve you, 
     to live peacefully with our neighbors, and
     to spend each day in expectation of your son. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
Old Testament: Isaiah 40: 1-11
Gospel: Mark 1: 1-8

REFLECTION
We so often forget the fear that comes with being in the wilderness. We forget that far outside the bounds of the city we find the harsh realities of a world far from electricity and order. But out of fear, chaos, and confusion, God calls the people of Israel. Out of fear, chaos, and confusion, a prophet is called to prepare a way for the messiah, Jesus.

In our Isaiah passage, we hear words of comfort. The people of Israel are coming out of pain that is borne through long times in wilderness, in a foreign land, without their God. But God is the voice that is crying out in the wilderness. Voices of comfort sometimes fail us. Words from loved ones sometimes fail. But when God speaks, we know those words will not fail. We mortals, the grass, fail, but the breath of God, the word of God does not fail. God’s words of hope will last forever. Nothing can stop the hope that God brings.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find ourselves again remembering those wilderness places. Once again, we see hope. And once again, we meet a prophet, this time his name is John. This hope that John called for was about turning. Turning our gaze from inward (on our own failings, our own pain, our own fear) toward our God who was calling out to us. In calling us to turn toward a God who desires us, John called for us to hope in a one far greater than him. Out of the desert God called the people. Out of our pain we hear the voice calling, prepare the way of the Lord. Put your hope in the Lord God, our savior. Come, meet the God who desires to be with the people.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Together, let us pray for:
the people of our congregation . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

all who struggle or are in trouble . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the concerns of this community . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the world, its people, and its leaders . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the church universal . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the communion of saints . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

BLESSING
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

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Week 1: Dec. 3–9

CALL TO PRAISE & PRAYER
O Lord, open our lips.
And we shall declare your praise.

ADVENT HYMN
"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" (UMH #196)

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
New every morning is your love, great God of light; 
     all day long you are working for good in the world. 
Stir up in us desire to serve you, 
     to live peacefully with our neighbors, and
     to spend each day in expectation of your son. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
Old Testament: Isaiah 64 : 1 - 9
Gospel: Mark 13 : 24 - 37

REFLECTION
Advent is a season of preparation leading up to the birth of Christ, which we celebrate on Christmas. If you are new to Advent or the liturgical year, you’ll start to catch us using words like preparing, watching, and waiting. During Advent, we watch and wait for Christ just as the Holy Family waited those long months. Our attention helps us to remember that this is a big deal. The Gospel passage says to “keep alert” or “keep awake” three times in as many verses. What are we watching for? Jesus coming on a cloud? The end of the world? The grandeur of Christmas Eve or the Christmas presents that come at the end of the month?

These words in Mark intend for us to have an “apocalypse” mindset. It turns out that the apocalypse does not only have to mean the end of the world (contrary to popular belief and movie plot). The Ancient Greek of “apocalypse” literally means “an uncovering,” or a revelation of knowledge.

What revelation from God can we expect today, in this seemingly inconsequential season of Advent some two thousand odd years after the first Advent of watching and waiting?

Rather than a Holy Spirit-induced paranoia in which we are frozen from the possibility that something could happen at any moment, our watching and our waiting is an active work and not a passive one. We have to watch for the new thing that God is doing in the world, which, it turns out, is hard to do alone in your living room. The wildest part of this is that we are a part of this new Divine thing, and we are a part of it together. It is no surprise that a Triune God acts in community!

This is what we have to watch for: how God is moving in our very lives to uncover a revelation of a different way to be in relationship with each other. We have to pay attention. A deep attention. An attention to each other that stems out of and guides us toward mutual vulnerability and communion. An attention that leads us to solidarity and kinship.

What I say to you, I say to all: keep awake. 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Together, let us pray for:
the people of our congregation . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

all who struggle or are in trouble . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the concerns of this community . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the world, its people, and its leaders . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the church universal . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the communion of saints . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

BLESSING
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

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