Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Come, continue on the journey. It is not far now.
P: But where are we going?
L: God is welcoming us to God’s kingdom.
P: Can we see it from here?
L: We see it in the faces of those who know of God’s love.
P: Will that same love be given to us?
L: It already has been given, and his name is Jesus! He is God’s beloved Son, our Light and Hope.
P: Quickly, let us journey toward his light. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
[The lantern is brought from the back of the worship area to the worship center and placed on the center while the choir sings (UMH 728) "Come, Sunday" , as directed, with a soloist singing the second verse]
Choir: Come Sunday, oh, come Sunday, that’s the day. Lord, dear Lord above, God Almighty, God of love, please look down and see my people through. I believe that God put sun and moon up in the sky .I don’t mind the gray skies, cause they’re just clouds passing by. (Refrain).
Soloist: Verse 2: Heaven is a goodness time, a brighter light on high. [spoken: do unto others as you would have them do unto you] Send and have a brighter day by and by.
Choir: Refrain and Verse 3: I believe God is now, was then, and always will be. With God’s blessing we can make it through eternity. (Refrain)
L: Lord, dear Lord of Love, let your light shine before us this day as we continue our Advent journey.
P: Help us to remember that the light draws us to you. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
L: Welcome to worship on this Third Sunday in Advent. Our focus today is the Light which beckons us onward.
P: As these days are growing darker, we need to focus on the light.
L: Jesus is the light which God has given especially to the world.
P: Help us make our hearts ready to receive Jesus, our hope and our light. AMEN.
Call to Worship #4:
L: A Light has been given for us, to welcome us home.
P: Praise God for the lantern of hope and welcome.
L: Today open your hearts, take courage. God is with us!
P: We come this day, continuing our journey toward our true home. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION
Lord of Love and Light, shine through our darkness, bringing us hope. Open our hearts for the journey, our eyes for the light, our spirits for the peace which you bring. Fill our mouths with laughter and speech with shouts of joy that we shall reveal the love with which you surround us. We offer this prayer in the name of the One who is coming into the world bringing your hope, love, peace, and joy, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
The Advent Light:
Theme for bulletin insert:Lights from three sources grace our worship center. The first light comes from the candle, which was placed here two weeks ago, but was not lighted.. The second source, placed here last Sunday, is a flashlight, with its small, bur directed beam of light to show us the way to Hope. Today’s light is from a lantern.
L: Two weeks ago, on the first Sunday of Advent, we placed this candle on our worship center, but it remained unlit so that we would take the time to actually think about the darkness and hope for the light.
Person 1: We light this candle, remembering that in the midst of darkness, God created the world and all that is in it. In the midst of our darkness, God has again brought light
[Person 1 lights the Advent Candle].
L: Last week we placed a flashlight in our worship center as the second light of Advent. This common object becomes uncommon as it reveals God’s love and direction for our lives.
Person 2: We turn this flashlight on, with its small beam. The darkness is great, but God’s powerful light will show us the way, our path is illuminated by God’s gracious love. This light represents direction and hope.
[Person 2 turns the flashlight on. Note: make sure that the light is either shining on the floor or down an aisle, not in the face of any persons in the sanctuary]
L: Today, on the third Sunday of Advent, we place a lantern in our worship center. We remember the significance of the lantern lit on a porch to welcome the weary traveler.
Person 3: We light this lantern as a reminder of God’s continuous welcome for us, pouring God’s light of love into our darkness and drawing us home.
[Person 3 lights the lantern in the worship center]
L: Let us pray: Lord of Welcoming Light, be with us today as we continue our Advent journey. Help us to look for the light of your abiding presence, brought to us through the years by the prophets and most especially by Jesus Christ your beloved Son. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, light and love, we confess that we have not been people who are quick to pray. When an emergency befalls us, we turn to pleas and prayers which usually begin with the heart-wrenching cry, "Why?". Help us to remember that you are always ready to hear and respond to all our prayers. Remind us that even though we have often failed to witness to your love and live as people of compassion and faith, you love us unconditionally. Forgive our stubbornness and willfulness. Cleanse our souls and spirits and make us truly ready to receive your light. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
Lord of time and hope, we are rushing headlong into the holidays to come. We look at our calendars and our day planners and wonder how we will get everything done in the time allotted to us before the "big Day" arrives. We begin to panic at the thought of projects still to be finished, contacts that need to be made, preparations for festivities that have only just begun. And the darkness of obsessive holiday planning overtakes us and clouds our minds and spirits. But you are a God of time and Light. You bring hope to us, as you always have through the voices of the great prophets, and now through the One who is to come, Jesus Christ. Remind us again what this season is truly about......love, hope, peace and joy. Calm us down. Slow us down. Help us remember that it is in loving relationship that you gave your Son to us and it is in loving relationship that your Word is carried into the hearts of the people. No tinsel, ribbons, tape, cards and convey the eternal message adequately. You have given us the Light, to shine in our path and cut through our darkness. Shine in the hearts of your people today. Bless those dear ones whom we have named before you today with your healing, reconciling, comforting presence and love. Give strength to all who face difficult situations and let your compassionate light shine on them guiding their decisions and their steps. Bring us at last to your presence, where the light of hope and love continually pour out on us. These prayers and hopes we offer in confidence and gratitude for your love and presence. AMEN.
[Note: If you have liturgical dancers, or youth who can gracefully lift the objects from the worship center as the lines are being spoken, you may want to add this to the litany]
L: In the midst of our darkness, God has given us hope.
[Dancer lifts the lighted pillar candle, turns in the four directions (north, east, south, and west, and then places the candle back on the worship center]
P: The light of the candle burns in our spirits.
L: In the midst of our journey, God has provided a light for our path.
[Dancer lifts the flashlight, turns in the four directions (north, east, south, and west, and then places the flashlight back on the worship center]
P: The beam of the flashlight illuminates the path and gives us comfort as we journey forward.
L: In the midst of our travels, God’s light shines brightly inviting us home.
[Dancer lifts the lantern, turns in the four directions (north, east, south and west, and then places the flashlight back on the worship center)
P: The glow of the lantern light reminds us of God’s home for us.
L: Rejoice, People of God, for the Light is shining for us.
P: Praise God for the many ways in which God has provided for us on our travels.
[Standing behind the worship center, or beside it, the dancers lift their arms toward the heavens, in front of their bodies and then, keeping their arms raised, the bring them to the side, in a praise position.]
L: God has called us, through the voices of the prophets, through the witness of John the Baptizer as a voice crying in the wilderness, and through God’s Son Jesus Christ, the Light to the world.
P: Darkness cannot overcome this light.
L: Prepare your hearts for the coming of the One who will be your Light at all times.
P: Rejoice! For God has sent the One who will proclaim the Good News of Salvation.
[The dancers leave the worship area and return to their seats]
Benediction, Blessing, Commission:
L: May the light of this Advent season shine in your hearts, on your path, and beckon you to God’s Love and service to the world. Go in peace. May the God of peace go with you. AMEN.
[Note #1: It will be important to include in your worship bulletin a brief description of the meaning of this worship visual setting]
[Note #2: in these Advent services we will be visualizing worship by using various non-traditional sources of light. Last Sunday we began by placing an unlighted pillar candle on the worship center. Today we add a flashlight.]
[Note #3: You will need to have space either behind the worship center or to one side of the worship center for the dancers to move during the litany]
SURFACE: Place a riser on the left side of the worship center. Place a riser on the right side of the worship center on which a flashlight may be supported or leaned so that its beam will shine on a spot in the aisle or in front of the worship center. If you desire, the light can be focused on the ceiling. Place an additional riser, lower then the first one placed on the worship center, and in front of the one on which the candle is standing.
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. Make sure that some of the blue fabric is near the riser for the flashlight, and for the new riser in front of the candle riser.
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.
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: Place a lantern in the worship center, in such a position that it is easy to light.