Worship Connection: November 27, 2016

October 24th, 2016

First Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Blue or Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:
L: The Lord is getting us ready to receive a gift of great joy.
P: Watch for this gift!
L: Be vigilant and ready. For the gift is about to come.
P: The promise of God is faithful and trustworthy.
L: Watch, wait. The Gift is coming into the world!
P: Praise be to God for such lavish love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2: 
L: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
P: For in God’s house we shall find hope and healing.
L: In God’s house we shall find forgiveness and friendship.
P: May peace be within the walls of this house of God.
L: Come, let us go to the house of the Lord.
P: Come, let us sing our praises to God who loves and redeems us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3 
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2270, “He Has Made Me Glad,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

Choir: singing “He Has Made Me Glad” through as they process into the sanctuary. [You may want to use tambourines and hand drums during the procession. This should be a very exciting moment for the congregation.]

L: God has made us glad to be here today!
P: The joy of the Lord is written on the faces of the people!
L: Within each heart, God has placed words of forgiving love and welcome.
P: Let us celebrate and be joyful for all that God has done for us.

Congregation and choir: singing “He Has Made Me Glad” (You may want to sing it through twice.)

Call to Worship #4:
L: The time is coming when the Lord shall pour his most special blessing on the earth.
P: We want to be ready for that time. What should we do?
L: Be vigilant. Keep your hearts, minds, and spirits open to God’s word.
P: Help us, O Lord, to be aware of all of your blessings.
L: Come, let us celebrate God’s love for us.
P: Make our hearts ready to receive your Gift of Love, O Lord. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READINGS, AND BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

O Lord, our lives are so filled with chaos and tribulation. Help us be ready to receive your message and gift of love, that we might grow into faithful disciples, serving you by serving others with hope and compassion. In Christ’s Name, we pray. AMEN

The Lighting of the Advent Candle: The Candle of Patience: Watch! Wait!

Reader 1:
In the days to come, the Lord shall establish God’s house upon earth!

Reader 2:
Watch! Wait! For God will do something special, something very unexpected.

Reader 3:
Do not be hesitant. Place your trust in God’s promise.

Reader 4:
Today we light this first candle, a special candle, lighted in darkness, shedding its meager light into our world. [The first candle on the left of the center riser is lighted.]

Reader 1:
Come, see the light. Let its brightness fill you.

Reader 2:
Come, feel the warmth of the light. Let it give you comfort.

Reader 3:
Come, draw near to the light, for it is God’s way of breaking through to you.

Reader 4:
Come, rejoice in the light, for God is with us!

Prayer of Confession
God of Amazing Surprises, we are rushing headlong into this season of buying, giving, greed, and struggle. We want to think of the holiday as delightful, but we have a tendency to make it a time of the highest stress. We over-schedule our time, overdraw our resources, ignore those moments in which we could just relax and have quiet time with our families and with you. We blame it on everything else but our own decision making. We speak of obligations, of the need to be constantly busy, of the pressure to purchase things to make people happy. The reality is that your love should be our foundation, the base from which we celebrate. Our watchfulness is not necessarily about what is to happen, but rather should be on the ways in which we order our lives, ways that block out your love and your healing power. Forgive us for our stubborn insistence on maintaining schedule rather than focusing on your love. Heal us. Strengthen us and make us watchful over our faith in you. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Words of Assurance
Watch! Wait! God is bringing to you new hope and peace. It is a gift, given especially for you--one that you cannot earn—it’s a gift. Praise be to the Giver of All Great Gifts, our Lord. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Lord of hope, you bless our lives every day. We sometimes forget that all these blessings come from you and we overlook them or decide that we just deserve all the wonderful things that come our way. It seems that every year the push for the commercial holiday expectations comes earlier and earlier. By the time we approach the true Holy Day we are exhausted; we cannot gather the strength to praise you. Make us ready, Lord. Slow us down and help us find release from the demands. Enable us to make decisions that will build hope and community, rather than foster greed and selfishness. Help us reach out to others with gifts of kindness and peace. Enter our hearts, not with demands, but with a gentle reminder of the peace you bring. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Reading
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 706, “Soon and Very Soon,” offer the reading as directed. You may want to have a praise band or a small ensemble energetically sing the song. Whatever you do, don‘t drag it!]

Praise Band/Ensemble: singing “Soon and Very Soon” repeating the first verse 2 times.

Reader 1:
I feel as though I am about to begin a race--the race to Christmas. It gets this way every year. I want to focus on Jesus, but instead I get caught in the trap of purchasing.

Soloist: singing second verse of “Soon and Very Soon”

Reader 2:
My children have all grown and live so far away. I am lonely and it just doesn’t feel like the holidays anymore. The scriptures say to watch and wait. That’s all I do. I watch as time rushes by and wait for words of love and joy from my family. I feel alone. Where is the message of hope that will dry my tears?

Duet: Singing third verse of “Soon and Very Soon”

Reader 3:
I have a business to run and so much of the bottom line depends on the Christmas buying public. I feel pressured to push the items earlier and earlier each year so that I can ensure my employees of their jobs and even give them a little bonus for their faithfulness. But at the same time, I have lost the joy of the season. Instead it is one great big sale. I can’t seem to see the Christ in this holiday season. Help me see you, Lord.

Praise Band/Ensemble: singing “Soon and Very Soon” through 1 time

Worship Leader:
Can you identify with our readers? Do things already seem out of control? Have you lost the focus of the season? Do not be afraid. The Lord is with us, ready to bless our lives and give us hope. God is bringing to us the greatest gift of all. Watch! Be ready! Your blessing is on it’s way.

Benediction
To all the corners of the world, God is bringing God’s blessing. Be ready! Watch! For the time is near; Salvation is at hand. Be at peace in the arms and love of God. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this season is purple, however, I prefer blue, the alternate color.

The theme for this first Sunday of Advent is : WATCH! WAIT!

It seems as though when we know something special is coming, we want to make all the preparations right away. We don’t take much time to think. Just Watch! Wait!

An interesting approach might to be move from darkness into light. In the light of that idea I am suggesting a layering of fabric, beginning with the darkest blue, dark navy blue, for the first Sunday of Advent, and then adding a royal blue for Advent 2, medium blue for Advent 3, and pale blue (Mary’s color) for Advent 4. White will be used for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day/Christmastide.

Because Advent and Christmas traditions vary in all congregations, you may want to make major alterations to the following suggestions. I will be going with the themes of Advent 1: Watch and Wait; Advent 2: Prepare; Advent 3: Behold/Believe, Advent 4: Rejoice; Christmas Eve/Christmas Day: Celebrate!

If you are using Advent Candles, you might consider using pillar candles—three medium blue candles about 6-8” high and one pink pillar candle 6-8”. Place two of the blue candles on one side of the center riser and a blue and the pink candle on the other side. You may want to place risers so that these candles are elevated.

SURFACE:
Place an 8” riser on the center of the worship table, toward the back. Place two risers about 6” high on the worship center, to the right and left but about 6” in front of the center riser; place a bench or floor riser in front of the worship center. Optional: you may place other risers as needed, but make sure that the center riser is not obscured by any other risers.

FABRIC:
Cover the entire worship area, including all risers, with the dark navy blue fabric, making sure that the fabric puddles to the floor in front of the worship center.

CANDLES:
See the section on lighting the Advent Candles. If you are using a separate wreath, not placed on the worship center, you may still use the liturgy for lighting the candles.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE:
Generally I do not use flowers and foliage until Christmas Eve when all the memorial poinsettias and other Christmas plants are placed in the church. Go with your church tradition and the theme you have chosen.

ROCKS/WOOD:
Depending on which theme you have chosen, you may want to use a sparse amount of rocks and wood, signifying the stumbling blocks and difficulties of discipleship.

OTHER:
This will depend on the theme you have chosen. 

comments powered by Disqus