Worship Connection: December 20, 2015

November 15th, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Purple or Blue
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:46b-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: It's Christmas Eve Morning! How quickly this time has come upon us!
P: We are breathless. Still so much to be done.
L: Calm your spirits. Take time to hear the wondrous news.
P: Open our ears to hear Mary's Story
L: Believe in the good news!
P: We believe and rejoice! God's love is here with us! AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: All through this season of Advent, we have encountered Hope, Peace and Joy.
P: Today Belief and Love are the theme.
L: Today we will hear the story of surprising commitment.
P: We will learn of Mary and God's wonderful love.
L: Today we will be challenged to believe in all that God can do.
P: Open our hearts, Lord, that we may be ready for your love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2095, "Star-Child", have the music sung as directed below]

L: Through time and space, in the blink of the eye, the love of God stretched forth in the life of a young girl, asking that she be part of God's great plan of Salvation.
P: Her name was Mary. She was not of wealth or power. She was a person, just like you and me.

Soloist: Sing verse 1 of "Star-child"

L: The Good News came first to the lowly.
P: Even today, we believe that good news often comes only to the mighty. How wrong we are!

Duet/solo: sing verse 2 of "Star-Child"

L: In a world where hatred and fear was commonplace, the Christ Child would be born.
P: Fear and Hatred are far too commonplace in our world. May the Christ Child come anew into our hearts this day.

Choir: sing verse 5 of "Star-Child"

Call to Worship #4

L: Look, the time is getting ripe for the tree. The flowers have bloomed.
P: God's promises are being fulfilled in our midst.
L: From the beginning we thought there was no hope.
P: But little leaves made their way to the light - as we make our way to God's light.
L: Then the buds showed themselves - as we take our journey toward God.
P: Now the branch is in flower - as we are called to be fruitful with God's promise for us.
L: Praise be to God.
P: Hallelujah! AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

Lord, be with us this morning as we encounter Mary and hear of the wondrous news that she received. Remind us that, like Mary, each one of us is a bearer of your Good News. We are called to proclaim hope, peace, joy, and love in your name. Open our hearts and our spirits today to receive with great joy the love that you have for us. For we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.

Lighting the Advent Candle

Reader 1: Today we light four candles- the first Candle is called HOPE and it is a reminder that God's promises are true.

Reader 2: The second Candle is called PEACE, God's gentle loving peace for our lives.

Reader 3: The third Candle is called JOY, because of God's absolute presence in our lives.

Reader 4: The fourth Candle is called LOVE, because of God's great love for us.

All Readers: Come, all is ready. Let the light of this these candles, called HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE, bring brightness to your spirits.

[The first , second, third, and fourth Advent Candles are lighted]

Prayer of Confession

Lord, we are so excited. Christmas Eve Day is here. We want to jump ahead to the exciting and wondrous worship service that we will hold this evening. We are impatient to hear the whole story. Slow us down again, Lord. Cause us to look at the blossoming of the branch and remind us that your love is blossoming in our lives. As we hear Mary say "Yes!" to God's good news, help us to remember that God continually calls us to be those who will bear the good news to those in need. Forgive us when we forget to do that. Heal our wounds and bind up our spirits. Enable us to go into your world offering our lives, our gifts, our talents, for your glory. In Jesus' Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

God's love and faithfulness have been at work in you. You are healed and forgiven. Rejoice in God's love and blossom. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord, we can't quite imagine what it must have been like for Mary, to hear God's request and to respond, unconditionally with "Yes!" We have a tendency to put conditions on everything. We want to know what we have to do, how long this will take, what's in it for us, what are the projected outcomes. Forgive us for our faithlessness, Lord. Slow us down, and cause us to take time to really consider the wonderful ways you have always worked in our lives. As we have come before you with concerns on our hearts for our families, friends, and world, remind us that your presence is with us and your healing love comforts and restores us. Open our hearts and our ears to the cries of those in need. Let us use our talents and resources to help others. Give us courage, energy, and enthusiasm as we work for you in this world. We ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.

Litany/Reading

L: God promised to save God's world.
P: And the people believed.
L: God sent the prophets to remind them of the covenant of trust and love.
P: And the people believed.
L: In the fullness of time, God's promise became incarnate in the life of Mary.
P: And Mary believed.
L: Those who were the least and the lost received good news.
P: And they believed.
L: We are called to open our hearts, spirits, and minds to God's Good News
P: That, believing, we may be witnesses to God's great love. AMEN.

Benediction/Blessing

God asks us if we will be God's people. Our hearts want to shout yes! Go into the world, feeling God's healing presence in your lives. Tell others about God's love. Do not be afraid! God is truly with you. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is PURPLE or BLUE

Note: I recommend putting a brief paragraph describing or explaining the symbolism used in your visual display. These become good teaching tools for a congregation.

Note: Risers are any objects which create a higher place than the main level. You may use books, wood blocks, anything that is sturdy on which to place various objects. Usually the risers are placed on the worship center first to create the variation in levels.

Note: For ADVENT 1, I have chosen to use the color blue, varying the shades each week with the addition of fabric and other symbols for the day. If your worship center is against a wall you may want to consider placing fabric behind the worship center so that it forms a screen effect and then draping the worship center with the same identical fabric. I recommend the use of dark blue during Advent (leaving the purple for Lent).

I have chosen not to have the cross on the worship center during Advent, but rather to focus on the Advent symbols themselves

For ADVENT 2: We will be adding little green leaves, only about 15 or 20 to the bare branch on the worship center. We will also be adding a small, plain, unpainted or varnished, wooden cross to the top of the center riser, alongside the pillar candle.

For ADVENT 3: We will be adding little buds near the leaves on our branches.

For ADVENT 4: We will be adding flowers, resembling white dogwood blossoms.

SURFACE: Place 5 risers on the worship center. One riser in the center back and the other four risers to the right and left, but not in a straight line, they should be staggered.

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with dark blue fabric (or dark purple).

CANDLES Place one dark blue 8-10" pillar candle on the center riser. Place dark blue votive candles, in holders on each of the other risers.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: no flowers or plants at this time

ROCKS/WOOD: Using crepe paper in emerald or celery green, cut out leaf shapes, about 2-3" long. Also using crepe paper in white, make "buds" with small bits of green around them to look like buds. Using floral tape, carefully tape them to some of the branches of the bare limb, making sure that they can been seen from a distance (this is important, because the idea is to imply new life and growth). The amount of leaves you place should suggest growth is happening (you may add more leaves if you wish). Using white paper or white crepe paper make flowers that resembel white dogwood blossoms. You should add enough flowers to be placed near the buds, but don't remove the buds (growth is continual).

OTHER: If you have a wooden cross about 10-12" high, place it on the center riser with the large pillar candle. The cross should be rough, unpainted and unvarnished.

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