Worship Connection: December 2, 2018

November 5th, 2018

First Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Blue or Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: The days are shorter and darkness comes early to our lives.
P: Lord, hear our prayers through the darkness.
L: Come, seek the Lord. Place your hope in God's mercy and love.
P: Lord, we seek your presence among us.
L: Look closely! God is making us ready.
P: Brighten our Spirits this day, and help us to receive your Good News. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: The Lord will fulfill all the promises given to God's people.
P: Praise be to God.
L: The days are coming when all shall be revealed.
P: Thanks be to God.
L: The signs of God's Good News are all around us.
P: The darkness has overshadowed them.
L: God will bring to us a new light for all generations.
P: Open our eyes, Lord, to see your promises fulfilled. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2177 "Wounded World That Cries for Healing", offer the following call to worship, as directed]

L: It's everywhere. Darkness, Anger, Despair, Hopelessness.
P: Where is the Lord?
L: Look closely! The signs of God's wonders are present.
P: But the world is an angry and violent place. How can we see the signs of God's love?

[Sing v. 1 of "Wounded World That Cries for Healing"]

L: Pain and mourning are for but a time. God's love is forever.
P: The newspapers, radio, TV, everything talks about lies and deceit; violence and hatred. How can we see God's love through all of this?
L: There are those who walk among us with such loving spirits and gentle compassion. Look for them for they are reflectors of God's love.
P: Are they truly among us today?[Sing v. 3 of "Wounded World That Cries for Healing"]
All: Lord, help us to behold your love and mercy everywhere. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4

L: Have you seen it ......the Spark of Hope which God is placing among us.
P: All we can see is hectic lives, crowded stores, darkness and fear.
L: Look again.......the spirit of God is moving, bringing hope.
P: We need to place our hope in God, but we are afraid.
L: A long time ago, people were afraid and God brought to them Light.
P: May God bring that light to us today! AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

We can hardly believe it, Lord. The Advent season is upon us. We usually translate that into the buying season in preparation for THE BIG DAY. But when we place our hope in the tinsel, wrappings, tape and boxes, we forget the most glorious gift of all, the gift of God's absolute love. Open our eyes, our hearts, our spirits today to behold God's gracious love for us in the fulfillment of all God's promises. For we ask this in the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Lighting the Advent Candle

Reader 1: Today we light one candle - the Candle called HOPE, as a reminder that God's promises are true.

Reader 2: We place our hope in God.

Reader 3: We place our lives I n God's care.

Reader 4: Come, all is ready. Let the light of this one candle, called HOPE, bring brightness to your spirits.

[The first Advent Candle is lighted]

Prayer of Confession

It is so easy for us, Lord, to let the anger, frustration, and fear overshadow our lives. We can't seem to escape it. We try to find some way to cover it up, but it remains. And in our anxiety, we act out our fear in ways which are not helpful and, far too often, go against the ways you have taught us to live. We feel the pressure to give, and resentment in giving. We feel the push to be present at every upcoming event, and want to run and hide. Help us, Lord. Heal our wounded spirits. Free us again to look to you for Hope. Let us see the many ways in which you are present to us...... guiding, healing, loving, encouraging us. Forgive us for our fears and our stubbornness. Bring us again to your light, for we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

"The days are coming", says the prophet Isaiah, "when all God's promises will be fulfilled." These promises of hope, peace, joy, and love are for you. Receive the hope that God offers to you today.

Pastoral Prayer

The celebration, or selling, didn't even wait until after Thanksgiving. Shouting to us through advertisements, blaring at us from every edifice, the message of "Happy Holidays" proclaims the season of giving, or rather, purchasing. And each year, we succumb to it. We enter this season already feeling pushed and pressured and these things become a darkness to us. Where is the light, O Lord? Where can we find hope and refuge from the din? From the distant past a voice cries that our hope is in God. In the midst of the darkness, God will bring a light. We can count on that. God has always been present for us. This day, as we have come bringing our prayers for those near and dear to us, let us remember that God has already heard our prayers and the cries of our hearts. God will respond in love. As we feel we are being overcome by the darkness, God brings us the absolute light of Love, to pierce our gloom. Arise, shine! People of God. The Lord has not abandoned us. God's mercy and love are coming to us in many wondrous and surprising ways. Behold, the love of God, that is around you all the time. Rejoice, Hope is given for you this day. AMEN.

Litany/Reading

L: Boxes, tissue paper, tape, ribbons, tags.....is everything all ready now for the season of giving?
P: Wrap us in your love, O God.
L: Lights, wreaths, trees, lawn ornaments, window candles.....is everything all ready now for the season of celebration?
P: Light our way in the darkness, O God.
L: Schedules, Parties, Gatherings, Visits......is everything all ready now for the time of gathering?
P: Guide and direct our lives and steps, O God.
L: What is there left to do?
P: Place our hope in your presence and love, O God.
L: That's it? Place our hope in God?
P: That's it!
L: But all the stuff we have to do....what happens to all of that?
P: Don't be frantic. Place your hope in God.
L: But.......
P: Place your hope in God. Slow down. Listen. Behold! God is with you!
L: Where is God?
P: Here, right here, right now, beside you, before you, behind you - with you always. You don't have to fear.
L: Thank God.

Benediction/Blessing

God's presence and promises are real. Go now into God's world, trusting in God's love and placing your hope in God. Go in peace. 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.

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 plants or flowers are recommended at this time.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place one gnarled, bare branch in the center of the worship table, so that the candles flank it (the larger candle in the back of it, and the other candles on either side).

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