Worship Connection: December 15, 2019

November 1st, 2019

Third Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Blue or Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:47-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:

L: Today there is good news for us to behold!
P: Those who feared that they were worth little to God have found blessing in God’s sight.
L: For in the mercy and love of God, the blind shall see, the lame shall walk without pain, those who could not hear shall be blessed with hearing, and there shall be peace.
P: God’s mercy and love is poured out for our parched souls.
L: Behold! The Lord’s compassion is with God’s people.
P: Believe in the power of God in all things. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: The earth was parched and dried.
P: The mercy of God caused it to become a pool of nourishing water.
L: The people were fearful and doubted God’s love.
P: God showered God’s blessings continually on them.
L: The wonder of God’s love is a healing balm to all God’s people.
P: Thanks be to God who provides for us. Behold! Our God is with us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 210, “Toda la Tierra (All Earth Is Waiting),” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

Choir: singing verse 1 of “Toda la Tierra”

L: We are ready, O Lord, to behold the presence of your spirit among us.
P: Bless our spirits with openness and joy!
L: We have come on this journey seeking hope and peace.
P: You, O Lord, have poured your spirit on us!

Choir: singing verse 2 of “Toda la Tierra”

L: Justice and peace shall be brought to all God’s people.
P: No more shall fear and doubt claim us.
L: God is fulfilling the ancient promise of a Savior.
P: Our hearts rejoice at this good news of God’s love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:
L: Be patient! Wait and Watch for the Lord is drawing near to us.
P: We have gathered here this day to hear the good news and to gather strength for the times to come.
L: Be at peace with one another.
P: Let love and wisdom prevail.
L: Open your hearts and souls to God’s healing word.
P: Lord, touch our hearts. Teach us to patiently listen for your words of love. AMEN.


PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer
O Lord, you know the deserts and the parched places in our lives. We seek your healing power. Lead us on this Advent journey to the place of new birth and to the place of our redemption; for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

The Lighting of the Advent Candle: The Candle of Faith: Behold and Believe!

Reader 1:

Blessing upon blessing has been showered upon us by God.

Reader 2:
The lame shall walk; the blind shall see; the deaf shall hear.

Reader 3:
There will be peace and hope in God’s land.

Reader 4:
Be of good courage. Behold! God is blessing and redeeming us!

Today we light three 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]

The third candle is the candle of Faith, through which we behold the love and mercy of God and believe in God’s presence with us. [The third 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.

Reader 3:
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
Patient Lord, forgive our lack of faith in your loving power. We look around us and all that we see is what we don’t have. We fail to notice the daily blessings you lavish upon us. Clear our blindness to the needs of others. Strengthen us and move us from lame excuses for not serving you. Help us to truly listen to one another, not with our pat answers ready, but with loving and generous hearts. Heal us and make us ready to truly be your disciples. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
Behold and believe in the wondrous power and love of God! It is poured out for you and for God’s beloved world. Rejoice in this good news, for it is given especially to you. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Lord of delight and surprises, you come to us each day with opportunity, love, support. You pour your blessings on us, reminding us of your compassionate presence with us. Help us to be people of loving service. Help us to see the ways in which you enter our lives and enable us to serve you by serving your people. As we have come to you this day, bringing our concerns for healing and hope, remind us that you are with us all and that your healing mercies are given. Give us the courage to be faithful stewards of your creation and bring us together with one another in celebration and service. Lift us up, bring us forward, give us peace. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Reading:
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 218, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” offer the following reading as directed.]

CHOIR: singing verses 1 and 2 of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

Reader 1:
That song sounds so sweet! Why can’t I be comfortable with those words of angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold? This world is such a dark place where hatred, violence, and war abound. Mistrust and hostility are the ways in which most people live. Even the people we should be able to trust fall short of the mark. Where is the sweetness and comfort of God?

Voice:
It is here--that sweetness and comfort--but you need to look about you. Look around. See these people? They are the sweetness--even in their stressful lives--they are beloved by God, just as you are. There are angels who bring to us words of comfort. They act in silent ways--not with loud trumpets to proclaim their presence, but with a gentle touch, an encouraging word. Do not fear. God is with us.

Choir: singing verses 3 and 4 of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

Reader 2:
These words are wonderful, but life is more of an uphill climb and crushing load than the sweet songs of the angelic host. It’s tough out there in the world. Everybody wants something from everybody else. Compassion and fair play are rarely seen these days. It’s a hard-knock life, to quote a musical; you get as good as you give. You have to grab for everything. Life is crushing us all the time. Look at this season; it is supposed to be happiness and joy; and yet, how many of these people are fighting not to dissolve into tears, to feel the losses and pressures, to not be jolly all the time? It’s not easy.

Voice:
Life can be difficult, that’s true, but we are not in this alone. In the midst of the difficulties, the trials and tribulations, God is with us--sometimes lifting us, sometimes carrying us, sometimes bringing us opportunities for calmness and service. Listen to God. Open your heart to all the good possibilities for love and help that surround you each day. Can you reach out to someone else who is having a hard time? Can you offer your time to care for someone? Can you take time to just look at the world, at the beauty of creation? Can you take time to be present to God? Slow down a little. Do not make life such a rush and crush. You are beloved and important to God. Treat yourself as a beloved one. Be patient. Be helpful. Believe in all the goodness, for it is within you and around you.

CONGREGATION: singing verse 1 of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

Benediction
Let the love of God flow into your hearts. Believe in the power of God to change your life. Behold the goodness of God in creation and in others. Be at peace and celebrate God’s good news. AMEN.


ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

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

The theme for this third Sunday of Advent is: BEHOLD AND BELIEVE!

We are so caught up in the rush to Christmas festivities that we fail to notice the wondrous ways in which God is present in our lives. We often believe that God’s blessings are reserved for the holy and righteous--and never number ourselves among them. Yet, in the story of Mary, we learn that God works through God’s people--God’s regular, ordinary people--we just have to say “yes!” to God’s loving presence. Today is a day to behold the wonders that are wrought in the name of God.

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. Royal blue fabric was added last week on each side of the worship table. Each strip of fabric should be about 4 yards long and about 30” wide. This week we add the medium blue strips of fabric, moving in from the edge of the royal blue toward the center. Make sure that you leave a significant border of the royal blue so that the color movement can easily be seen. [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:
Because the lectionary for this week includes Mary’s Magnificat, you might want to consider placing a single pink rose in the center of the worship table. I would lay the rose down rather than place it in a vase.

ROCKS/WOOD:
The wood that you placed on the worship center last week should be removed.

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

comments powered by Disqus