New Worship Connection: December 10, 2017

November 4th, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Blue or Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Call to Worship #1

L: In the middle of dark times, our Lord cries out:
P: “Comfort, comfort my people!”
L: When it seems as though we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel,
P: Our Lord says to us, “ Be at peace, for your time of difficulty has ended.”
L: Lord, we await the time of comfort and peace!
P: Lord, we are thankful for your compassion and never-failing love for us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Long ago, a voice cried out in the wilderness
P: Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight the pathways.
L: Something new was about to happen.
P: God would visit God’s people in a new way!
L: Lord, open our hearts to receive this good news!
P: Prepare us to be people of great faith and compassion as we look forward to this wondrous event you have proclaimed to us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2148, “Over My Head”, offer the following call to worship as directed. The choir should have sufficient time to rehearse this song – using the Singer’s Edition of The Faith We Sing – there should be a leader’s part and the choir singing in harmonic response. The tempo should be somewhat fast.]

L: What is that sound that breaks the darkness of night?
P: Who sings the song of hope for us? Choir: Singing verse 1 and refrain of “Over My Head”
L: Prepare the way to peace and justice!
P: Make straight the roads for love and transformation! Choir: singing Verse 2 and refrain of “Over My Head”
L: The time is near; God is about to make all things new!
P: Lord, sing and shout the song of joy; for freedom is coming at last! Choir: singing verse 3 and refrain of “Over My Head”

Lighting of Advent 2 Candle

Star Child, verse 2, “abused, hurt” children

[This year we will be presenting the Lighting of the Advent Candles combined with the music of Shirley Elena Murray’s “Star Child”. The second of the Advent Candles will be lighted by one child from a group of four. When the candle has been lighted the four children will go to the chancel and sit on either side of the manger, slightly forward. They will remain in place until the first verse of the song is ended.]

Worship Leader: There is the voice of one crying in the wilderness……the voice cries out for peace and justice, for hope and transformation……that voice reaches to all of us who are comfortable. Things will be different. The Lord is about to do a new thing. This morning those who are drawn to the manger and not the shepherds of old, but are children who are abused, hurt, lost, alone – children who are cast aside – children who are driven into the slavery of poverty and who never hear the word of hope for something better. But God is doing something new! God is reaching out to those who do not expect it. God’s love is touching the hearts of those who are the voiceless – yes, there is a voice of one crying in the wilderness and that voice cries: Prepare the way. Get ready. Something new is happening and you will be included in it! Rejoice!

Gathering Prayer

Lord, in the midst of our busy time, when we are in the rush to Christmas, you burst into our lives with the tantalizing promise of something new. Open our hearts and spirits to the glorious possibilities of hope and peace to come. Help us to prepare our lives to receive you. We thank you for all the blessings you pour on us and for the privilege we have in sharing these blessings with others. Be with us all this day and all these days that we may serve you better by helping others in need. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

As the voice cried out in the wilderness, God, you enter our lives and call to us to be open to hearing the cries of people who feel lost and alienated, who feel that no one cares or ever will care about them. We have been given that opportunity to reach out through the ministries and mission of our church bringing hope and peace to all. Get us ready to become pathways of peace and life-transforming love in your name. It is in the spirit of Jesus’ name that we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Into the dark depths of our fear and anguish, you, O Lord, reach out to us. We need your guidance this day, for we have found it far too easy to stray into selfish pathways. We seek first our own comfort; we gather our toys and trinkets and proclaim that all is right with the world, yet our hearts feel strangely discomforted. Guide us and gather us, Lord. Teach us again to be people of peace and hope. Help us to cast off the mantle of greed and hatred. Forgive us for the many times when we have ignored the cries of those in need; when we have turned our backs on opportunities to help others. Forgive us, Lord. Touch our hearts and bring your bright light of salvation to them that we might turn again to you and in your love may be part of ministries of peace and justice. Help us again to hear the voice of one who cries in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, we offer this prayer. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

God’s forgiving love has been poured upon each one of us. Hear the good news! You are healed and forgiven! AMEN.

Morning Prayer

How things will change on the day of the coming of the Lord! Every valley will be lifted up and all the mountains will be made into a plain. Equality will exist for all God’s people. O God, we long for that day of hope and peace. We strain our ears to hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness of our lives; the wilderness of despair and discouragement; the wilderness of anger and fear; the wilderness of alienation and selfishness. The voice cries to us to make ready the pathway for our God, to remove the obstacles which we have placed there; to respond with acts of compassion rather than react in violent ways. Lord, attune our ears to hear the voices of those who cry out in their need. Open our hearts to respond in caring ways. Teach us again the great truths about how we should live as your children. Forgive our failings and help us to try again and again to be the kind of faith-filled people you would have us be. As we cry to you, offering the names of loved ones who are sick, who mourn, who are lost, who live in anguish and in anger, keep us mindful of the ways in which we can be of help. Likewise, as we rejoice with all those who are happy, who dance with delight at the wondrous gifts you have given, remind us that joy and peace is what we all seek and what we can accomplish. In the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, we offer this prayer. AMEN.

Offertory

In gratitude for all that God has given us, we receive this morning offering, pledging these gifts and our lives in God’s service. AMEN. Prayer of Dedication: Lord, we bring these gifts to you, thankful for all the ways you have healed and enriched our lives. May these gifts be used in service to others in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

God is bringing light to our darkness. We are called to go into the world, confident in God’s loving presence, to serve others in need. Go, bringing hope and peace to this darkened world. Go in God’s love. AMEN.

Children’s Time

This morning in our worship service we will be hearing about a man named John. He came as a special messenger to tell people that there was someone coming after him, much greater than he, who would make their lives very different! This person would bring hope and peace to all those who felt that there was nothing that they could do, but suffer. For, you see, the people had suffered for a long, long time. Many of them thought that God no longer cared about them. But John came to them and said that they should prepare their lives to receive the One who was to come – We know that One as Jesus.

Today many people are discouraged and wonder where God is. I believe that God is present with us all the time and that we can see it in small ways, such as a smile, a hug, someone who listens to you when you need to talk. God’s spirit is in each of you. You can be those who prepare the way for the Lord by not hurting others, by being kind, by helping, by praying. These days we all need to pray that God is in our world, reaching out to all God’s people. Are you ready to be the ones who will help prepare the way? Thank you. God needs your faith and love and needs you to tell others about God’s love by the way you act and the attitudes you have. Love is a way of showing God’s love – Hurting and being mean is never a way to be. Thank you for your willingness to be voices, speaking in the darkness! God bless you all.

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

[This basic design will be used for all four weeks of Advent and Christmas Eve. Different pieces will be added as the Sundays progress.]

Place a 10” riser at the center back of the altar/worship center. Place a 6” riser directly in front of the 10” riser and about 4” apart from it. Cover the entire altar/worship center with about 6 yards of purple cloth about 54” wide, so that it covers the risers, dips down into the space in between the risers, and drapes down onto the floor in front of the worship center. On the upper right and the upper left of the altar/worship center place a small bud vases with three white carnations in them. On the Center Riser at the back, place a large ceramic Angel, about 12” high with arms outspread.

Add one more white carnation to each bud vase. Place a 6” white pillar candle on the 6” riser in front of the Angel. You may also add 6 more votive candles on the main level of the altar/worship center.

Scripture into Script

[Station readers around the congregation and have them shout or speak loudly their lines.]

Reader 1: A voice cries out: clear the Lord’s way in the desert; make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
Reader 2: Every valley will be lifted up and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become level and rough terrain a valley plain!
Reader 3: The Lord’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together! The Lord’s mouth has commanded it!
Reader 1: A voice was saying, “Call out”
Reader 2: And another voice said, “What shall I call out?”
Reader 3: All flesh is grass, and its loyalty is like the flowers of the field.
Reader 4: The grass dries up and the flower withers when the breath of the Lord blows upon it. Surely the people are grass!
Reader 5: The grass dries up and the flower withers, but our God’s word will last forever!
Reader 1: Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion. Raise your voice and shout, messenger Jerusalem!
Reader 2: Raise it up and don’t be afraid; say to the cities of Judah “Here is your God!”
Reader 3: Here is the Lord God, coming with strength, with a triumphant arm, bringing his reward with him and his payment before him!
Reader 4: Like a Shepherd, God will tend the flock!
Reader 5: (slightly louder than reader 4) Like a Shepherd, God will tend the flock!
Reader 1: (slightly louder than reader 5) He will gather the lambs in his arms, and lift them onto his lap.
Reader 2: (slightly louder than reader 1) He will gather the lambs in his arms, and lift them onto his lap.
Reader 3: He will gently guide the nursing ewes!
All: Behold, the Lord comes, bringing hope and peace! Prepare the pathways for the Lord!

Message Movers

From the loud speakers in the Mall and Market, we hear the warning “Only 15 more days until Christmas”, and our hearts race and many of us are filled with the annual anxiety of gathering and gifting! Help, we cry. But the voices blaring become more strident. Prepare the way for the big sales, those you can’t afford to miss, (and if the truth were to be told, those you can’t afford to attend). Get as much as you can! Don’t disappoint anyone! Help, we cry.

Is it any wonder that this season which should be the most beautiful is the most difficult for many! John, the voice crying in the wilderness, says “Prepare the way for the Lord!” He doesn’t say, become exhausted in your preparations; wear yourselves to a frazzle in trying to please everyone. Instead he says: “Open your hearts – remove the obstacles”. Take a few minutes to breathe – a deep cleansing breath and as you breath in, ask for the Lord’s presence, and when you exhale, expel the negative things which are crowding your life – let them go. “Prepare the way for the Lord! Make straight highways, free of bumpy spots, for the entrance of God”

This is a season for hope and peace, not for deep anxiety! When we are so filled with stress, either from familial expectations or self-imposed, we are clogging up the highway. When we believe that bankrupting our budget to find the “right” gift is the way to go, we place deep chasms in the middle of the road. Take time to be together – to sit down together and laugh and feel the joy of the One who comes to bring you new life. Jesus did not come to place pressure on your life – he came that we may know about God’s tender love for each one of us.

Breathe deeply! Let God’s love flood into your lives. Feel the joy of the season! Experience those moments of peace and hope which are given for you. For Jesus is coming to you, each one of you, with healing love and transforming power. In the wilderness the voice will be singing songs of praise and joy! Join that voice! Let the world ring with the good news of God’s Love. AMEN.

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