Classic Worship Connection: December 3, 2017

First Sunday of Advent

Theme: Yearning for the Light.

Lectionary: Isaiah 64:1-8; Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19; Mark 13:24-37

Premise: We have just come from the Thanksgiving Celebrations and are now called to enter Advent with little preparation. We are not ready. We have not considered our spiritual dilemma. Left to our own devices we move easily and quickly from light into darkness. Isaiah’s call reminds us of the yearning of the people for God’s intervention in their darkness. Their plea is for God to rip open the heavens and come to save them. They feel incapable of escaping the darkness by themselves. Psalm 80 reminds us that God is a god of power and might and fully capable of saving God’s people. Their prayer is for salvation. Mark’s cryptic words raise images of darkness and the coming light. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus reminds us to be vigilant, for the true light is coming.

Advent Object: Today people will be given a candle, but there will be no light for the candle. A candle will appear upon the Worship Center but it will not be lighted.

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1 

L: The Lord is coming to us soon. Make ready your hearts to receive Him.

P: We are caught up in the rush of the season. Calm us down, Lord.

L: The Lord is bringing peace to you.

P: Praise be to God who brings peace to a hectic world. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2 

[Note: Using the United Methodist Hymnal, pl 209, "Blessed Be the God of Israel", verse 1, have the choir begin the call to worship as directed]

Choir (singing): "Blessed be the God of Israel, who comes to set us free, who visits and redeems us, and grants us liberty. The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom and release; God shall fulfill the promise to bring our people peace."

L: In the midst of growing darkness, God comes to us with peace

P: Thanks be to God who has heard our cries and has come to release us.

L: Worship the Lord with gladness, for our bondage is ended.

P: Worship the Lord with shouts of joy, for we have been freed in God’s Name.

ALL (singing): "On prisoners of darkness, the sun begins to rise, the dawning of forgiveness upon the sinner’s eyes, to guide the feet of pilgrims along the paths of peace; O bless our God and Savior with songs that never cease!" AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

L: The time of waiting and watching is here! Are you ready?

P: We are waiting for the Lord of peace to open our hearts.

L: The Lord of Peace comes to you this day to free you from your sins.

P: We are ready to receive the precious blessings of God.

L: Come, let us worship God who loves us dearly.

P: Let us praise God for God’s blessings in our lives. AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION

Invocation/Opening Prayer: 

Almighty God, as we begin this season of Advent remind us again that in the midst of our darkness you are bringing us peace, to calm our anxious spirits and hectic lives. Turn our hearts again toward you. Make us ready to receive your Son our Savior. Slow our pace, and give us the blessing of feeling your peace in our spirits. For we ask this in Jesus’ precious Name. AMEN.

Lighting the Advent Candle: 

[Note: The first Advent Candle represents PEACE. Many churches have the tradition of having a family read a passage while lighting the Advent Candle.]

Voice 1: Blessed be the God of Israel, who has come to set us free.

Voice 2: All around the world there are wars and rumors of wars. Peace appears to be a distant dream.

Voice 3: Through the prophets of old, God promised peace.

Voice 1: Like the people of old, we too long for peace, not only as release from armed conflict, but as a way of living our lives freed from fears and anxiety.

Voice 2: Today, on this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of PEACE. May we find God’s peace in our hearts, and be bearers of God’s peace in our world.

Voice 3: God’s light of Peace will shine on us this day, to guide our feet into the ways of peace.

[The First Advent Candle is lighted - the Candle of Peace]

Prayer of Confession 

It’s starting already, Lord. It is only the first Sunday in Advent, and we are caught up in the pressures and stresses of the holiday season. Pursued by the temptation to spend our funds, our energy, our spirits, we feel that there is no peace or rest in the world. Lord of light and peace, shine on us this day. Forgive us when we have so easily succumbed to the anxieties and fears and temptations of the season. Slow us down. Calm our spirits. Give us an awareness that this is the season of waiting and of preparation. Pour peace into our lives and help us to be bearers of peace to others. For we ask this in Jesus’ precious Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Even in the midst of difficult times, God is with us, bringing peace to us. Receive God’s rich blessing of peace and hope. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer 

Merciful and Patient God, how we must try your patience. We rush through the seasons of our lives as though we had a mighty schedule to keep. We plot out our days, minute by minute, crowding each moment with tasks, stresses and pressures. And we begin to notice the growing darkness and anxiety in our lives. We proclaim boldly each year that we will not let ourselves get so caught up in the commercial pressures and demands and yet, here we are, back in the same old trap of "not enough time; not enough energy". The very plans we weave become bonds which imprison us. Help us bind ourselves to you, loving God. Help us slow down and reflect on the many ways in which you bless us. Let us drink deeply of your peace. Remind us again of the most precious gift of all, the gift of loving relationship between you and your Creation. May we cherish the people and the peaceful moments you offer to us. As we have lifted before you our joys and concerns, so lift our spirits to remember that you are always with us, offering your healing touch and your compassionate care. Help us to place our trust in you, for we ask it in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Offertory Prayer 

God of Peace, you have blessed us in so many ways. Today we return blessings and thankfulness to you. Bless these gifts and all gathered here that we may be bearers of peace to your world. AMEN.

Litany 

L: There’s a special message for you today.

P: What is it?

L: It’s a word of peace, of God’s brilliant peace for your lives.

P: What is that?

L: It is an awareness of God’s loving presence in your lives in which your spirits are calmed and comforted, made ready to receive the Gift.

P: How can we find that peace?

L: Wait. Listen. Breathe deeply. God’s gift will come to you.

P: When is it coming to us?

L: You may not know the hour or minute, but you can be assured that God’s gift of God’s own self will be given for you.

P: What do we need to do?

L: Be ready. God’s promise of peace and hope are real and they are given especially for you. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. God is with us. AMEN..

P: AMEN.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission:[WBW: Yr B. Advent 1, Peace, Healing, Hope, God’s Presence, Witness]

The light of the Candle of Peace goes before us, offering hope and healing to a darkened world. Go into the world, confident in God’s presence with you. Bring the words and actions of peace to all God’s people. And the blessings of God, the love of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit be with you always. AMEN..

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

[Note: in these Advent services we will be visualizing worship by using various non-traditional sources of light. We will begin on this Sunday to place an unlighted pillar candle on the worship center. Nothing else should be on the worship center at this time.]

SURFACE: Place a riser on the left side of the worship center.

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with landscapers’ burlap, making sure that it comes to the floor in front of the worship center. Beginning at the riser on the left side of the worship center drape a long strip of blue cloth across the worship center toward the right and then down in front of the center onto the floor, puddling the fabric.

FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE: No flowers or foliage are used for this week. No greens of any kind.

CANDLES: Use a tall white pillar candle, placing it on the riser on the left side of the worship center. However, DO NOT LIGHT THE CANDLE.

ROCKS & WOOD: Rocks and pieces of wood may be placed on the floor in the front of the worship center, near the puddled fabric, but use them sparingly.

OTHER: No other items are needed at this time.

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