Worship Elements: December 1, 2019

October 8th, 2019

First Sunday of Advent

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

THEME IDEAS

It is with great irony that on the very week that we begin our Advent countdown to Jesus’ birth, Isaiah proclaims that we have no idea when the Prince of Peace will come. The deep longing for peace echoes as surely in our twenty-first–century world as it did in Isaiah’s time. Through our liturgy, we must communicate that traditional Christmas preparations are not enough. If we truly want to receive with joy the long-awaited Prince of Peace, the one who comes at an unexpected hour, we must accept the invitation to walk expectantly in the light of the Lord, each and every day of our lives.

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Isaiah 2, Psalm 122)

I was glad when they said to me,
let us go to the house of the Lord!
In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord!

Opening Prayer (Isaiah 2, Romans 13)

When, O God, will the day of peace come?
When will the nations stream to your holy mountain
and beat their swords into plowshares?
When will the long night of war and hatred,
give way to the dawn of love, righteousness,
and joy?
We are ready for the dawn, O God.
Shine your light into our world, mighty One of peace.
Illuminate the path,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to follow your light.
We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 2, Psalm 122, Romans 13, Matthew 24)

God, we are ready now.
We want peace now.
We long to receive the Prince of Peace
in our world today.
But don’t delay too long, Holy One,
for soon we’ll be busy with parties,
and decorating, and baking, and shopping.
Our lives are crammed so full,
we find it hard to calendar you in;
we find it hard to locate the time
to welcome the Light of the World.
We need your help, O God.
Teach us to set aside our party wardrobes,
and clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ.
Guide us into true readiness,
even though we do not know the date and time,
when true peace will reign.
Wake us up;
shake off the cobwebs of our complacency;
and take us with you
on the path up your holy mountain.
Plant your peace within us,
so that each day, each moment,
we may be ready for the harvest of your love. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Isaiah 2)

The light of God’s love shines brightly!
The invitation is given:
Come, walk in the light.

Passing the Peace of Christ (Psalm 122:8)

The psalmist sings, “For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’” Turn now to your own relatives and friends, your sisters and brothers in Christ, gathered here in the house of the Lord, and greet them with these same words: “Peace be within you.”

Response to the Word (Isaiah 2, Romans 13, Matthew 24)

We do not know the year of your coming,
but we do know how to prepare.
We must live as peacemakers.
We do not know which day peace will reign,
but we do know how to prepare.
We must clothe ourselves with Christ.
We do not know the hour the world can breathe again,
but we do know how to prepare.
We must live honorably at all times.
We do not know when the Prince of Peace will come,
but we do know how to prepare.
We must pray constantly for peace
and walk in the light of the Lord.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Invitation to the Offering

If this Advent is to be about more than going through the motions, then we must get ready for the Prince of Peace in new and radical ways. What can we do to signal our readiness for the coming of Christ into this very place? We can start with a total commitment of our resources and our lives to the cause of God’s peace in the world. When we give our financial gifts to the ministry of this church, the benefits travel widely through the connections of our denomination, but nowhere is the impact greater than in our own hearts. I invite you to use this time of offering as an opportunity to get ready for Christ’s arrival.

Offering Prayer (Isaiah 2, Psalm 122, Matthew 24)

Thank you, God.
Thank you for the wake-up call,
reminding us to be ready.
Thank you for not giving up
on your vision of peace.
Thank you for the opportunity
to gather each week in your house,
that we might encourage one another
to stay on your path.
And thank you for the opportunity
to give these gifts for your ministry,
that together we might help the world
be ready to receive the Prince of Peace,
in whose name we pray. Amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction (Isaiah 2, Psalm 122, Romans 13, Matthew 24)

As you leave the house of the Lord,
open your eyes to the signs of God’s presence
all around you.
Stay awake, and be constantly ready
to welcome the Prince of Peace.
Put on the clothes of Jesus Christ,
and walk with the Spirit in the path of light.
Go in peace.

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (Matthew 24)

(This dialogue is meant for two worship leaders, the second of whom is sitting off to the side, not paying attention—perhaps texting or reading a magazine.)

Wake up! Get ready! It’s almost time!
In a minute . . .
No, it has to be now! You’re just about out of time!
Really? How much time do I have left?
Not much!
Well, exactly how much is not much?
Okay, I don’t actually know when it will be, but that doesn’t matter.
What do you mean, it doesn’t matter?
I need to know when!
No, you don’t need to know when and you don’t even need to know how.
You just need to get ready.
Well, okay then, let’s get ready!
(Move immediately into an opening song or hymn.)

Praise Sentences (Isaiah 2 Psalm 122)

Let us go to the house of the Lord.
Give thanks to the name of the Lord.
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!


From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. 

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