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Prayers Sermon

Advent 1: Worship

1st Sunday of Advent Worship:

Advent Candle Lighting Liturgy:

In a world of war, famine, and disease, where children grow up as orphans, where families go hungry and entire regions face destruction by illness, God, we call upon you to come. 

In a world where so many have lost hope, we call upon you, Lord of Hope, to come. 

In this season of Advent, we wait for the coming of Hope into our world. We await the birth of the Christ-child, the coming of God into our lives in a new way.

Come, Messiah, Come, and Save Us 

Light the first candle. 

Prayer: Dear God, we pray for the hope that is in Christ to come into our lives in a new way. May we become hope that is alive in our world. Amen. 

O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. [Refrain]

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. [Refrain]

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. [Refrain]

O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode. [Refrain]

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. [Refrain]

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. [Refrain]

Opening Prayer:

God of hope be with us in our Advent journey
to the stable and beyond, be with us in our meeting and in our travelling together, be with us in our worship and our praying together,
be with us in our Advent journey to the stable and beyond, our God of hope.

To you Lord, we lift up our heads, hearts and hands in prayer.
We put our trust in you, believing that your word is true.
We lift up to you our longing for hope in a despairing world.
We lift up to you our need for hope in a time of deep hopelessness in our world.
We lift up to you our deep desire for hope in a bleak and sometimes depressing world.

You promised hope to Israelites and you kept your promise.
You promised hope in the coming of your son and he was hope for the world.
You promised hope to the early church and that hope was not denied.
You promise hope to us and we pray for your continued faithfulness.

Lord, we pray for strength when our faith falters.
We pray for you to pour on your love so it fills our lives
and splashes over on everyone around you.
Fill us with confidence in your presence in our lives.
Fill us with your joy and peace as we go through this busy time of year.
Keep our minds focused on you, our hearts filled with you and ours outstretched for you.

Rev. Abi, on her Long and Winding Road blog

Advent God, forgive us when we pay more attention to satisfying our own needs, than seeking you and your will for our lives—for being more interested in possessing the material things of life, rather than your spiritual gifts. Turn our lives around so that we are looking in the right direction – towards you.  Only then can we hope to recognise the signs of your presence in the world.  This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hear the good news:  In Jesus Christ we have been enriched in every way—in everything we say and in everything we know.  In addition, through God’s grace  we do not lack any spiritual gift as we wait with anticipation for Jesus to be revealed.  Amen.

~ Copyright © Moira Laidlaw, posted on her Liturgies Online website.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, 

hallowed be thy name; 

thy kingdom come; 

thy will be done; 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. 

Amen.

Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign.

Ev’ry eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Ev’ry island, sea, and mountain,
heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
all who hate him must, confounded,
hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment, come away!

Now Redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the pow’r and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
O come quickly, O come quickly;
alleluia! come, Lord, come.

Reading: Mark 13:24-37

The Coming of the Son of Man

‘But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert;  for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

Jesus, lover of my soul, 
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high;
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none;
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenceless head
with the shadow of thy wing.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.

Reflection: Hopeful & Watchful

I am still ruminating on the reading for this Sunday, so there isn’t a great deal I can offer you specifically on this passage yet…I really like Mark’s gospel, its known by some as the gospel of action – it doesn’t meander, its one jam-packed event after another, no waiting around, just “Pow! Pow! Pow!” and then on to the next event.

I know that it might not carry the pomp and splendour of Matthew’s gospel or the creative imagery of John’s gospel, but it give us everything that we need to know Jesus, to want Jesus in our lives, to become followers on the Jesus Way. We are inspired by this Jesus who shows us how to live. 

We are also entering Advent, and this Sunday is focused on HOPE, so I want to share this wonderful poem by Luke Schumann from https://jucuthin.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/hope-an-advent-poem/ which helps us to remember why the theme of HOPE in Advent is so important:

This is the season
we are in need of most
at the moment, for now
is at last the time when
Hope seeps in
and sticks out
like an unmatched sock. 

This is when our theology
can be found in its purist form, for it is
preached not as fact or stat
or system, but instead
as its true identity:
metaphor, art, narrative, and poetry,
in prophecy of the coming Savior;
the One who restores
and turns all our tragic stories
into songs of redemption.

And when hatred, violence,
and oppression are seemingly
the only things
that are tangible in this world,
Hope yet steps in as a most-
welcome guest, as a
considerate concept,
as an abstract thought
still finding its form,
as a familiarity we still
have yet to meet.

And yet we know
in our deepest fibers that this
is not some unfounded hypothesis;
Hope is not something we merely
long for, a hypothetical
idea that has the potential
to plot-twist.

Hope is instead a stronghold.
Hope is real and living,
breathing life into
our next day,
sustaining us in our brokenness,
greeting our despair
with a knowing grin. Hope
is more real than the
suffering in this world–
even if it’s much less prominent–

and Hope is what enables us
to long and strive for more
than what we have in front of us.
A world where all are loved
and cared for. A world where
peace endures and the line is blurred
between enemy and brother.
A world where joy is at the forefront
of our fixtures. This is what hope does.
This is what hope promises.
This is what hope ignites.

Prayers of Intercession:

Into our troubles and weaknesses,
Into the barren places of our souls, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the war torn and the refugee,
Into those who live in conflict, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the homeless and the unemployed,
Into those who feel abandoned, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the sick and the disabled,
Into those with Ebola and with cancer, Come, Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the poor and the starving,
Into those who are oppressed or abused, Come Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the lives of loved ones,
Into those from whom we are estranged, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into our joys and celebrations,

Into our work and our achievements, Come, Lord
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

O Christ we long for your coming. Hasten that day when those who seek you in every nation will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south and sit at table in Your Kingdom. Hasten the day when your Kingdom will come in all its glory and suffering and pain and sickness and oppression and death will be overcome forever. Hasten the day when we will be resurrected as a great multicultural family and live in peace, harmony, joy and love together in your kingdom.

~ written by Christine Sine on Godspace http://godspace-msa.com/. 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Blessing & Dismissal:

As we leave from here, remember this:

All God’s gifts are right in front of you!

Not only that, but God’s self is right alongside, to keep you steady and on track until Jesus returns. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, will do this,

for God is faithful. God will never give up on you. So go in the name of God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer and The Holy Spirit who Sustains us. Amen.

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