Worship Connection: December 8, 2019

October 31st, 2019

Second Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Blue or Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:
L: The prophet Isaiah declared that justice and peace shall come through the family of Jesse.
P: This justice shall be for all of creation.
L: Peace shall be established in all the world.
P: Get ready! Prepare for God’s peace to reign!
L: Blessed be God who does such wondrous things!
P: We give thanks to God for this time of healing and hope. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: Get ready, people of God! The time of hope and peace is at hand.
P: We are called to action rather than reaction.
L: Open your hearts to God’s word and God’s will.
P: Help us to be workers for God rather than observers.
L: Come, draw near to God in faith.
P: Let us prepare our hearts to receive the wondrous gifts of God. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2089, “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

L: The call of God has come to us. How shall we respond?
P: We have many choices. One is to sit and do nothing and see what God has in store. Another is to prepare ourselves for the coming of God’s mighty kingdom by repenting and changing our lives to be in tune with God.

Soloist: singing verse 1 of “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice”

L: We are called to active faith--to turn our lives around and work for God.
P: God will be with us, forgiving, encouraging, strengthening us for God’s work.

Soloist: singing verse 2 of “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice”

L: Our Advent journey of preparation continues.
P: We need to get ourselves ready to receive God’s most precious gift.
L: Lord, help us to be strong and ready to follow you.
P: Open our hearts and spirits this day. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:
L: This day is a day of preparation.
P: Open our hearts, O Lord, and make us ready to receive you.
L: Repentance, changing our attitudes, our lives, is the beginning of our preparation.
P: Lord, give us courage and confidence.
L: God will fill us with joy and peace as we become witnesses to God’s love.
P: Lord, help us to be faithful servants all of our days. AMEN.


PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer
Patient and loving God, we so easily launch ourselves in preparation for the secular festival of giving and parties and the swirl of social events; but we forget that the true preparation is the readiness of our hearts to receive you. Help us look again at our lives and turn them around so that they may be in tune with your will. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

The Lighting of the Advent Candle: The Candle of Readiness: Prepare!

Reader 1:

From the foundation of Jesse, from the stump, there shall come a new shoot!

Reader 2:

God’s spirit shall rest upon him.

Reader 3:

He shall find delight in all of God’s creation!

Reader 4:

Peace shall reign—old enmities shall cease! For on that day we will celebrate God’s love with one another.

Today we light two candles. The first is the candle of Patience, reminding us to watch and wait for what God is about to do. [Light the first candle]

The second candle is the candle of Readiness, enabling us to look at our lives, to get rid of all those things that keep us from God, to change our ways and live as God would have us live. [The second candle is lighted]

Reader 1:
Come, see the lights. Let their brightness fill you.

Reader 2:

Come, feel the warmth of the lights. Let them give you comfort.

Reader3:

Come, draw near to the lights, for God is breaking through to you.

Reader 4:

Come, rejoice in the lights, God is with us!

Prayer of Confession
Lord of mercy and peace, open our hearts to receive your words of hope. We live far too much in darkness and fear. We have let the fears invade the very center of our lives and find ourselves changing, moving from your light to the darkness of despair. It seems that this world and its people are more pleased to fight and destroy than they are to have peace and harmony. We become part of that crowd when we wallow in anger, resentment, apathy, and greed. Forgive us, patient and merciful God. Help us be people who will look at the ways in which we have blocked your presence; ways in which we have truly failed to be your people. Give us courage and strength to change our lives, that your peace may become a reality in this world, right now, this day. For we offer this prayer in the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
Though the darkness seems so deep, do not fear. God is with us. Repent! Turn your lives to God. God’s love is being poured out for you, always. AMEN

Pastoral Prayer
God of Advent waiting and watching, we have come to you this day with hearts heavy, with concerns for family and friends; for world situations; for struggles in home, community, state, and nation. We feel powerless to affect any changes. So we withdraw into ourselves, quick to criticize and slow to change our own behavior. Today you have called us to prepare ourselves to receive this “shoot” which shall arise from the stump of Jesse. You remind us that this is the one who will bring messages of peace. He will help us to become faithful disciples and servants. But we have much work to do. Our preparation needs to focus on our own attitudes and actions. We need to clean our spiritual houses of the cobwebs of hate, greed, apathy, suspicion. We need to focus more on your absolute love and forgiveness. As we turn our lives to you, offering names and situations in prayers for your healing mercies, help us to remember that our own healing is vital. Enable us to be strong and confident workers for you in this world. AMEN.

Reading
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 211, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” offer this reading as directed. You may want to have a soloist or small ensemble sing the suggested verses.]

Reader 1:
The shoot from the stump of Jesse? What in the world is that? What are they talking about? Message of hope and possibility? I doubt that. This world is hopeless. People want to live in anger, hostility, misery. Just look at it all. Do you see much good news on TV. The newspapers are very quick to pick up all the troubles and violence, but the good news of someone helping someone else is relegated to the back page in a one-inch paragraph. Good News from God? No one cares. No one listens.

Soloist: singing verse 4 of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Reader 2:
What is it with us people? All throughout biblical history, God has spoken through the prophets, through creation, to the hearts of God’s people. But we insist on turning to our own ways. We think we possess all knowledge. We want instant answers and solutions to our problems. We don’t know how to wait and be patient. And then we shout to the rafters that God doesn’t care, doesn’t exist. So we sink into the abyss of our own greed and folly. O that God would pour God’s wisdom into our wayward hearts!

Soloist/ensemble: singing verse 2 of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Reader 3:
Darkness floods our hearts. Not the darkness of longer and colder nights, but the darkness of doubt and despair. Inside we cry for peace and hope. But our outer actions proclaim fear and faithlessness. It is as though we are bound in grief; waiting for the inevitable death of our spirits. The gloom is far too real, even during this time of preparation. Lord, send your light to us. Disperse and destroy this gloom that has invaded our hearts. Bring us to hope. Help us again prepare our hearts for love and peace.

Ensemble: singing verse 6 of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Benediction
Prepare for the coming of the Lord! Make way in your hearts for love! Get rid of all anger and fear, for God is about to bring incredible light to the world! Go in peace and confidence as witnesses to God’s love. AMEN


ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this season is PURPLE; however, I prefer BLUE, the alternate color.

The theme for this second Sunday of Advent is: PREPARE!

We are immersed in preparations for our holiday celebrations. We are getting our homes ready, our gift-giving ready, meals and parties planned. But we are neglecting to prepare our hearts by changing the ways in which we have blocked God’s love and peace in us and in our actions and attitudes.

An interesting approach might be to move from darkness into light. In the light of that idea, I am suggesting a layering of fabric, beginning with the darkest blue, dark navy blue, for the first Sunday of Advent, and then adding a royal blue for Advent 2, medium blue for Advent 3, and pale blue (Mary’s color) for Advent 4. White will be used for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day/Christmastide.

Because Advent and Christmas traditions vary in all congregations, you may want to make major alterations to the following suggestions. I will be going with the themes of Advent 1: Watch and Wait; Advent 2: Prepare!; Advent 3: Behold/Believe; Advent 4: Rejoice; and Christmas Eve/Christmas Day: Celebrate!

If you are using Advent candles, you might consider using pillar candles--three medium blue candles about 6-8” high and one pink 6-8” high pillar candle. Place two of the blue candles on one side of the center riser and a blue and the pink candle on the other side. You may want to place risers so that these candles are elevated.

SURFACE:
Place an 8” riser on the center of the worship table, toward the back. Place two risers about 6” high on the worship center, to the right and left but about 6” in front of the center riser; place a bench or floor riser in front of the worship center. Optional: You may place other risers as needed, but make sure that the center riser is not obscured by any other risers.

FABRIC:
The entire worship area, including all risers, should be covered with the dark navy blue fabric, making sure that the fabric puddles to the floor in front of the worship center. Add the royal blue fabric on each side of the worship table. Each strip of fabric should be about 4 yards long and about 30” wide. [The eventual effect will be darker fabric on the outside, moving toward the lighter and eventually white fabric in the center of the worship table. So the color range will appear as follows: dark navy blue - royal blue - medium blue - light blue - white - light blue - medium blue - royal blue - dark navy blue.]

CANDLES:
See the section on lighting the Advent candles. If you are using a separate wreath, not placed on the worship center, you may still use the liturgy for lighting the candles.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE:
Generally I do not use flowers and foliage until Christmas Eve when all the memorial poinsettias and other Christmas plants are placed in the church. Go with your church tradition and the theme you have chosen.

ROCKS/WOOD:
Depending on which theme you have chosen, you may want to use a sparse amount of rocks and wood, signifying the stumbling blocks and difficulties of discipleship. You might want to use a barren branch and attach a small green leaf at the center of the worship table.

OTHER:
This will depend on the theme you have chosen.

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