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Ash Wednesday

 

Feb. 14

 

This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

 

Support Our Work … read how you can help keep lifeinliturgy.org available for use without subscription charges.

 

Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources:

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12 Psalm 51:1-17 2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

179-Forty days and forty nights

180-Lord, who throughout these forty days

211-Jesus walked this lonesome valley

565-If you will trust in God to guide you

391-These I lay down

 

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Hymn of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2018, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

On Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

 

Gently come, behold God’s mercies,

how the subtly lure attends,

how in every secret place we

rise in fragile company.

Here is where we come, our Savior,

here, into thy supple heart,

here, where all of joy surmounts us

till we settle into love.

 

In your generosity, Lord,

you yield in sufficiency.

We come, Lord, to  know devotion

that arouses satiety.

All is here with your delight, Lord;

all is compassed in your love.

here, indeed, within your heart, Lord,

perseverance lurks, sublime.

 

In your all abiding courses,

in your deeply coming force,

here in your sublime embrace, Lord

we attend, attest your grace.

All our treasure we discover

in your victory of cure

as we find your mercies offer

mercy in our gentled hearts.

 

8.7.8.7.D            Suggested tune: Abbot’s Leigh

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent).  A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin.  Where practical, these may be offered here as well.  You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

 

Suggested Parsing of Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;

According to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.

Cleanse me from my sin.

I know my transgressions; my sin is forever before me.

Against you, you alone, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

So you are just in your sentence, blameless when you pass judgment.

Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.          

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let my crushed bones rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

            Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

You have no delight in sacrifice; a burnt offering would not please you.

The sacrifice you accept is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not reject.

 

 

Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor.  If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention.  No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.

 

Call to Worship  

Call to Worship  

L: The day of the Lord is coming! The day of the Lord is near!

P: The time is fulfilled: The reign of God is at hand!

L: O people, repent! Believe in the gospel!

P: Come, let us turn and follow the Lord!

 

OR

L: Once again, as the season of Lent begins, we are summoned by a gracious and merciful God.

P: We respond to God’s steadfast love, calling us into solemn assembly.

L: Let all the people gather for self‑examination; let all bow in awe before the One Who Creates.

P: We approach God in reverence and wonder, rejoicing in the invitation to holy places.

L: Walk humbly before God in secret disciplines, in prayer and fasting and giving.

P: We seek the One who grants us life, upholding us with a willing spirit.

 

OR

L: Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your hearts and not your clothing.

P: Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

L: Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?

P: Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

L: Why should it be said among the peoples, “Where is their God?”

P: Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

Faithful God of life and of all the living, we give you thanks that you have not called us to walk the road to the cross alone. Thank you that you are there with us, and that we have these friends who journey by our sides. Bless our time together in worship, so that we may draw strength from you, be encouraged by your Holy Spirit to go on, and never lose sight of your Son Jesus Christ, our brother and our Lord.

 

OR

Most holy God, your Son came to save sinners; knowing our own humanity and the frailty of life, we come to this season of repentance confessing our unworthiness, asking for new and honest hearts, and the healing power of your forgiveness. Grant this, we pray, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

OR

We, your people, come to claim your promise of salvation, O reconciling God. In your wholeness, we find healing. In your power, we gain strength. In your love, we are thrust beyond our own concerns to embrace a hurting world. Blow the trumpet, that this solemn assembly may rejoice, that remembrance can bring renewal, through Christ. Amen

 

OR

Holy God, our lives are open before you. Rescue us from the chaos of sin, through the death of your Son bring us healing, and in his resurrection, make us whole, for we wait upon you.

 

A Complete Order of Worship

A Complete Order of Worship

The ancient tradition behind this service goes back to the 10th century, and has always focused on our mortality in solemn word and sign.

            The ashes, made of palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday worship, recall for us the redemption that is ours through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In him, we rise from the ashes of mortality to newness of life—redeemed and enabled to serve the world in his name.

 Opening Prayer and Introduction to the Service

            My friends, God has called us to this gathering of solemnity and hope.

             Let us pray:   Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent.  Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our mortality, we may receive from you new life, perfect forgiveness and peace, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

            Today we begin our 40 day journey toward Easter.  We enter the Lenten season to prepare ourselves to welcome the risen Christ with lives renewed by the breath of his spirit.  We begin anew the disciplines of self-examination, confession and penitence.  We dedicate ourselves to meditate upon the scriptures and to converse with God in prayer.  We seek to be more faithful disciples of Christ whose lives are shaped by the one whom we confess to be Lord and Savior of the world. 

            As we begin this season of preparation for the great feast, we mark ourselves with ashes—an act that actually pre-dates the church of Jesus Christ—symbolic of our recognition that we are not gods, but mortals; that we are not good, but are sinners; that we have not yet attained the fullness of our callings in Christ, but are yet on the journey; that we are dust, and that we will return to dust.  Yet God has seen fit not to leave us in the dust, but to raise us with Christ, through baptismal faith, to everlasting life.  To that end, let us join in the responsive reading.

    (Note that additional Psalms, hymns or other music, as well as silent reflection, are appropriate interludes between the readings which follow)

The Old Testament Lesson 

Psalm (may be omitted when Psalm 51 used as act of confession, below)

The Epistle Lesson

The Gospel Lesson

Homily (Optional and brief commentary on one of the texts or the meaning of the day in our life)

Invitation to God’s Forgiveness, and to the Lenten Season

            Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:  Christians have always observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection.  It became the custom of the church to prepare for Easter by a season of penitence, fasting and prayer.  This season of 40 days provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for baptism into the body of Christ.  It is also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had been separated from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the church.  The whole congregation is thus reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the need we all have to renew our baptismal faith.

            I invite you, in the name of the Lord, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and acts of charity; and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.  To make a right beginning, and as a mark of our mortality, let us now bow before our Creator and Redeemer in prayer.  Let us pray together.

      OR

            Brothers and sisters in Christ, God created us to experience joy in communion with him, to love all humanity, and to live in harmony with all of God’s creation.  But sin separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, and so we do not enjoy the life our Creator intended for us.  And by our sin we grieve the Lord, who does not desire us to come under judgment, but to turn to him and live.  As disciples of the Lord Jesus we are called to struggle against all that would lead us away from love of God and neighbor.  Repentance, fasting, prayer and works of love and justice—the disciplines of Lent—help us to confront and by God’s power to overcome the powers of evil.  Lent is also a time to remember and celebrate anew the meaning of our baptisms, and to hear again the gospel call to lives of ministry and grace.  I invite you, therefore, to commit yourselves to these devotions as we enter a time of repentance and communion together, asking God for strength to persevere and to find the light of Christ’s resurrection in the days that lie ahead.

The Blessing Of Ashes

            Let us pray:  God our Creator, you sent your beloved Son, Jesus, to be our  brother. The burden of your love for humankind led him to accept death, death on a cross, so that all people might live. Though we were buried with Christ in baptism and raised up to a new life of freedom, we have not lived fully as your sons and daughters; your reign of love and justice is still not fully manifest in us.   Bless these ashes and your people who are marked by them. Grant that this may be a symbol of our inner renewal, a sign of our change and growth, a first step in our returning home to your love; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

      OR

            Let us pray:  Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.  Grant that as we contemplate our mortality, our experience of ashes may be to us the beginning of our new life of repentance and grace, so that we may remember that only by your gracious gift are we given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

The Imposition Of Ashes

You are invited to come and receive the mark of ashes on your forehead as a sign of your mortality and of God’s promise of new life.

Invitation to Confession (and Forgiveness)

(Pastoral note: In some traditions, words of forgiveness are omitted during Lent from any act of worship, substituting a prayer that God hear our cries for mercy and offer grace.  Absolution is offered here, and discretion is left with pastors and communities with convictions either way.)

            If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sin, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  In humility and faith let us confess our sin to God as we join in the responsive Psalm of confession.

Confession of Sin:  Responsive Psalm 51:1-5, 9-13  (see suggested parsing below)

    (Silent Confession)

The Words Of Forgiveness

            Hear the word of God’s reconciling love toward all.  Through Christ, God chose to reconcile the whole universe, making peace through the shedding of Christ’s blood upon the cross—to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through Christ.  Friends, hear and believe the good news….

     L:  …. In Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

P:  In Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.  Glory to God!   Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer  (we use “sins”)

Celebration of Our Salvation:  The Lord’s Supper

   (Note: The tradition of Ash Wednesday is to offer a penitential time of prayer to God, without the celebration of the Eucharist.  This does not meet the editor’s understanding of the season nor of the nature of the faith in which “all things have become new” – even during Lent.  In communities where the observance of this day allows for the presence of those whose theology does not allow for inter-communion, the omission of Eucharist from the service does allow for full participation of all present, so sensitivity to the body about to be gathered should help the minister in deciding whether or not to offer a celebration of the Supper.  Order offered below allows for the entirety to be presided over by one minister, but table leadership could also be shared with elders, if desired.)

            Invitation

            Hymn

            Thanksgiving and Breaking of the Bread

And now we give you thanks O God, because you give us the spirit of discipline so that we may triumph over evil and grow in grace, as we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with hearts and minds renewed.  For in these forty days you lead us into the desert of repentance, that through a pilgrimage of prayer we may grow in grace and learn to be your people once again.  Lord Jesus, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to give thanks for your saving and reconciling love, for on the night you were betrayed …  (Words of Institution)

….Give your spirit to us, O Lord, as we receive your gifts and look forward to the fullness of joy that is ours in the resurrection to eternal life.  (BREAK BREAD) 

L: …Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Blessed are those who are called to his supper.

P:  Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

 

Sharing of Bread and Cup

 

Closing Thanksgiving (unison)

            For the gift of life in Jesus Christ your Son, we give you thanks, O Lord.   For the gift of your scripture, and for this covenant community in which we live them out, we praise you.  For the gifts of signs and sacraments, for seasons and the promises they bring, we rejoice.  Lead us forth by your Spirit to do your will in the coming days, that in Christ we may experience the joy of resurrection as this season comes to full blossom.  Amen.

The Blessing

Holy God, through the discipline of these 40 days, make your spirit’s cleansing fire burn within us.  Lift us from the dying embers of our inattention.  Mark us with the sign of your holy passion.  Make us ready to respond to the call of Jesus Christ.   Make us your very own and bless us with your peace.

 

The Sending Forth

L: Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

P:  Thanks be to God!

            OR

L:  Go forth in the name of Christ  with hearts attuned to God, bearing truthful speech and love, knowing you can neither wander from God’s presence nor be cut off from God’s Holy Spirit.

 P:   We go as God’s forgiven and empowered people to bring reconciliation and peace.

L:  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.

P:   Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all God’s blessings.

 L:  Who forgives all your sins and heals all your infirmities.

P:   Who redeems your life from the grave, and crowns you with mercy  and loving kindness.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect

 

Almighty and everlasting God,

you hate nothing that you have made

and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:

create and make in us new and contrite hearts

that we, worthily lamenting our sins

and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may receive from you, the God of all mercy,

perfect remission and forgiveness;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Post Communion

 

Almighty God,

you have given your only Son to be for us

both a sacrifice for sin

and also an example of godly life:

give us grace

that we may always most thankfully receive

these his inestimable gifts,

and also daily endeavour

to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Additional Collect

 

Holy God,

our lives are laid open before you:

rescue us from the chaos of sin

and through the death of your Son

bring us healing and make us whole

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have

made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and

make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily

lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission

and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever

and ever.  Amen.

 

Collect of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2018, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

 

In intimate collusion with your Spirit, O God,

become in us the flowing wells of peace

and joy, the offering of our oblation

set upon the altar of the heart

that in your timely course

we may be thoroughgoingly alive

and humanly prepared

that we arrive in your delight.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)

Alternate:  Great Thanksgiving for Ash Wednesday

(For some congregations, when the Eucharist is to be offered, Ash Wednesday provides a unique opportunity for an experience of a different kind of presidency by the minister at the Table.  This text is particularly relevant in its content for the congregation as an aid in recalling salvation history.   Only those portions requiring congregational response need to be printed in a worship bulletin, and in fact may be substituted at the beginning with “Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God.”)

            L: The Lord be with you.

P:  And also with you.

            L: Lift up your hearts.

P:  We lift them up to the Lord.

            L: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

P:  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Creator and Sovereign of the universe.  You were God before time began.  You have seen every sun rise, every day begin, since you first gave form to our home, this earth.  You launched it into your universe, shaped its hills, and filled its seas.  You brought life into being, and in time made us in your image, male and female.

            But we were not content with such a paradise.  We rebelled, putting our wills before yours.  Even then, we found you boundless in love.  Time and again, you reached out to us with love and mercy.  You made a covenant to take us to be your people, and we promised to live faithfully with you.  When we failed, you put your words on the lips of women and men who gave themselves to calling us home to you.

            We join with those of all times and places, from the north and the south, from the east and the west, as one voice in praising your name at your feast of love and redemption, even as we remember with thanksgiving your Son Jesus.

            When the time was ready, you sent Christ to be servant of all.  He who is closest to your heart has come to make you known to us.  He performed great signs to reveal your presence with us, and called us in faith to trust your love and obey your calling.

            When his hour had come, he accepted the baptism of death.  By your power, he was raised from the grave.  And having triumphed over death, he continues to make his presence known with us as we await the completion of all things in him.

            On the night…(Words of Institution – but do not break loaf)

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we know anew the presence of the living Christ and look to the day when we shall feast in his eternal kingdom.  Until then, we pray that you will join this memorial made by your people, bound by earth and time, to the heavenly and timeless offering of Christ himself.  Pour out your Spirit upon us gathered here out of love for you, and upon these gifts of bread and wine.  May these signs of breaking bread and drinking wine together reveal Christ among us, and may your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one with you in service throughout the world.  This we pray through your Son Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray boldly, our Father…

 

Breaking of the Bread

Because there is one loaf, we, many as we are, are one body, for it is one bread of which we all partake.

When we break the bread, it is a sharing in the body of Christ.  (Break bread)

When we give thanks over the cup, it is a sharing in the blood of Christ. (Elevate chalice)

These are the gifts of God for all the people of God.   

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2017.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2017; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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Epiphany

 

1/6 or 1/7

 

This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

 

Support Our Work … read how you can help keep lifeinliturgy.org available for use without subscription charges.

 

Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

The following is all for Epiphany/Epiphany Sunday.  Other resources are available for First Sunday after Epiphany (the Baptism of Jesus).

Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew 2:1-12

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

171-God’s love made visible

173-As with gladness

172-We three kings

174-Brightest and best

97-Fairest Lord Jesus

151 The First Noel

426-The voice of Jesus calls his people

 

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent).  A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin.  Where practical, these may be offered here as well.  You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

This week: Hymn 140-Hail to the Lord’s Anointed makes reference to it generally.

 

Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor.  If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention.  No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.

 

Call to Worship  (adapted by the editor from the Psalm)

L: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel;

P:  For God alone does wondrous things.

L: Blessed be God’s glorious name forever!

P:  May God’s glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

O Lord of all things bright and beautiful, may we begin this day in your name.  Light of all light, our dayspring of hope, may we find warm reflections of your countenance in the face of each brother, sister, stranger and friend.  As we work for your world this day, may our hunger be for justice and our thirst for peace.  Feed us with your presence.  Strengthen our hearts and steady our hands for the business of loving your creation.  As children of the light, may we walk in your radiance this day. (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

Eternal and Almighty God, we praise you that you cause the sun to rise to bring us the light of this new day and that you raised Christ form the dead to bring us new life. May our lives always face his brightness so we may go wherever he leads, serving in gladness and peace (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

Eternal God, you have shown your glory to the nations in the coming of Christ. Guide the church that you have gathered on earth, preserve it in faith, that it may grow in witness and service to the world. Strengthen and uphold our pastors and leaders that they may faithfully strengthen and uphold the church, and help us all to faithfully join in partnership with you to do your work according to your will and example in Jesus.

 

Increase our faithfulness to you and bless us with new friends in our midst to share in the joy of discipleship. Increase the faith and understanding of those whose faith in you is new. Give to all in baptism a new birth as your children, and give us grace to nurture them in faith and in the communion of your saints.

 

Lord, you created humanity with a longing to know you, to be in fellowship with you and to have peace in you. Grant that, in spite of hurtful things that stand in their way, they may find in the unity of fellowship in Christ the tokens of your love and mercy, and grow to acknowledge you as God and Savior.

 

You, O Lord, are the champion of the poor, the oppressed, the lost and the lonely. Guide those in leadership toward the commonwealth of your justice, that in peace and freedom all may share in the goodness of your creation, and work with you in caring for it and for your creatures. You are the one who gives strength to the weary and new courage to the disheartened. Hear the prayers of all who call on you that they may have joy in finding you ever present to help…

 

Hear the prayers of your people, O God, for we lift them all to you in the name and Spirit of your Christ.

 

OR

O gracious and loving God, we come to you recognizing the wonders of life that you have given us. As winter falls around us, we pray that you will warm our hearts to your will and guidance in all of life, that we may truly live as your baptized people, continually working for the reign of your kingdom on earth.

 

Hear our prayers, O God, this day for all who are absent from us. Hear our concerns and hopes for them and all your people. Touch their lives with your grace that they may find healing, and peace, and love. May your Spirit touch us to ever reach out to them and to those around us that all may feel your generous love in their lives.

 

Hear our prayers for your world. May we see the beauty of creation and work for your peace throughout the world. These and all our prayers we lift to you in the name and Spirit of our life-giving Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

OR (for the New Year):

Merciful and loving God, for the year that has passed with its sorrows and joys, we give you thanks; for in every moment of it, you remained faithful to us, rejoicing and struggling with us, though often we were slow to recognize you there. And with thanks for (year), we now release it. May its treasures inspire us, but never bind us in nostalgia; and may its troubles teach us, but never hold us captive. For you who have created are still creating…making all things new, including this day.

 

As we enjoy the blessings of life in this community, we give thanks to you for bringing together the many gifts which make your church more able to do its mission. We thank you for those who have given much of themselves to allow this day to come to pass. We thank you for those who realize the long road which lies ahead, and who trust you for strength to walk on, day by day.   And we recognize that there are many in our world who do not experience the love of a church family, the comfort and joy of a faith community. May our witness to your love increase itself in hospitality to them. Nudge us on to greater acts of faithfulness, as we learn to trust you more and more.

 

We ache at the news of brokenness in our world–broken lives and broken relationships between persons and families, communities and nations. Our hopes are turned toward peace in your presence, and we pray that you would help us to be makers of peace in our day to day lives.

 

Loving lord, we lift to you our own needs and those whose lives are closely linked with our own [……..] (and others we name silently in our hearts.)

 

As the light of a star brought the simple and the wise into the presence of the young Christ, guide us to you by the light of your word as we hear it read and proclaimed. God of all faithfulness, receive these prayers which we offer to you in the name and spirit of Jesus the Christ.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect

 

O God,

who by the leading of a star

manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:

mercifully grant that we,

who know you now by faith,

may at last behold your glory face to face;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Post Communion

 

Lord God,

the bright splendour whom the nations seek:

may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light

discern the glory of your presence in your Son,

the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Additional Collect

 

Creator of the heavens,

who led the Magi by a star

to worship the Christ-child:

guide and sustain us,

that we may find our journey’s end

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son

to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by

faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to

face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

Service of Table  

Offertory / Invitation to Give

The giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas time is born of the ancient Church’s celebration of this very day.  At Epiphany, the story is told again of those who come before the young Christchild, seeking to give, eager to present the very best to this young king.  In the process, they proclaimed what the religious world could not conceive:  that this one Child, of humble birth and stature, has come to bring God’s saving love to all.  May we consider well how our giving proclaims God’s love for all as the Table of the Lord is made ready.

 

Offertory Prayer

Thank you, God of Love, for the promise of this season. We are grateful for the generosity aroused in us by Christ’s coming into the world. May these gifts represent a new spirit of joyous sharing among us, for the sake of all your children everywhere. Amen.

 

Invitation to the Table

Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit at the table in the kingdom of God. This is the Lord’s table. Jesus invites all who seek to trust him to share in the feast which he has prepared. Let us come to his table now with hope and confidence as God’s children.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)

(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)

  1. Holy One, you speak to us in silence, yet all languages interpret you.  Because you call us into this community, we are able to become a gift to one another.  We pray for your Holy Spirit to descend upon us and upon this bread, that in sharing it we may discern your presence which becomes our life.  May it be for us the bread of life.

 

  1. We thank you, Lord,  for your anointed one, Jesus, who through his life, crucifixion, death and resurrection lived fully the promise of redemptive wholeness that is available to all who would obey your creating will.  We celebrate his gifts, even as we bring our own, asking that you would bless this cup that it would be for us his blood, as we rejoice in your presence, loving God, now and always.

 

Conclusion:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.

If not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2016.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2016; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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Christmas Eve/Day

 

12-24 (evening)

 

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Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98

Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

Hymns of Praise:

165 Once in Royal David’s City,

142 People, Look East,

148 O Come, All Ye Faithful,

155 Angels We Have Heard on High,

150 Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,

143 Joy to the World,

138 Awake! Awake!…,

159 There’s a Song in the Air,

169 O Thou Joyful

Communion Hymns:

147 Away in a Manger,

145 Silent Night, Holy Night,

160 Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,

161 I Wonder as I Wander,

162 What Child Is This,

163 Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Dismissal/Missional Hymns: 

171 God’s Love Made Visible,

167 Go, Tell It on the Mountain

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Call to Prayer  ©2007 David T. Chafin (tune: Hyfrydol)

Come, O God, commune here with us, as we lift to you our cares.

You, our hope and our deliv’rance, promise to receive our prayers.

God of love and understanding, you alone know heart and soul.

Listen to our intercessions, recreate us, make us whole.

 

Another Advent Hymn is offered by the editor for your use.

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent). You may also want to visit http://www.modernpsalter.com/ or http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

This week: Psalms 96-97-98 begin on Page 748

 

Words of Greeting/Call to Prayer

The Christ Child is born! All you who would find him, prepare for a journey, as determined as the Magi. All you who would praise him, come with the faith to follow but a star. All you who would worship him , come with humility to the child who shows forth the immeasurable riches of God!

 

OR (from the Anglican tradition)

Beloved in Christ, with delight we prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels, and go in heart and mind to Bethlehem to see Mary and Joseph with Jesus in a manger. Let us listen to the story of God’s saving acts and celebrate the birth of this Holy Child. And let us make these hallowed walls reverberate with the glad tidings of great joy which is to all the people.

 

Call to Worship  

L: Tonight old dreams die and new dreams come to life.

The promise is fulfilled.

   P: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: Hope gives way to joy and prayer to proclamation.

   P: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: The candles tell the story. Dawn invades midnight.

The Light of the world has come.

   P: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: This light is a light for all, warming us from within, radiating love,

lighting our lives with the presence of God in human flesh,

within us and among us now and always.

 P: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace. Goodwill to all.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

Reigning God, whose rule extends to the farthest stars, come to rule within us on this glorious night when the Word becomes flesh once more to dwell among us.  We open ourselves to the light and long to offer our lives as a dwelling place for your truth.  Speak to us again through the Child of Bethlehem.  Reach out to the child in each of us, and hold us in the warmth of love’s embrace.  For we pray in his name. Amen.

 

Prayers of the People/Intercessions

(from the Editor)

                O God, you are never revealed so completely as in the face of the child of Bethlehem.  Hear us as we give you thanks for those who today reveal your love in our world in his spirit.

                We pray for those who give you hands by doing their best toward their brothers and sisters; for those who give you a mouth by speaking words of justice and peace for the broken and oppressed; for those who give your poverty the look of hope for your reign, revealing you simply by being your children, reflecting your beauty as did your only Son Jesus.

                We hold up in prayer the lonely and hurting, the hungry and homeless, the sick and dispossessed, knowing that your heart has always been nearest those who are poor in spirit and least likely to be thought of as people touched by the hand of divinity.

                As we remember how you came to live among us in the flesh, and as we celebrate that moment long ago which lives forever in the hearts of those who believe, and as we long for your fullness in our lives that we too might enflesh the goodness and love of Christ in our day, we ask that you would bless us, your church, to be food for the hungry and hope for those who are lost and alone—a living testament of Christ’s faithfulness to you.  May all who drink of your one spirit receive new life to give to those in our world who are thirsty for meaning and belonging.

                Pour out your Spirit upon us, your people.  Continue in our lives the mystery of Christmas.  Let your Son become flesh in us, so that we may reveal you to our world all the days of our lives.  Holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray.  Cast out our sin and enter in.  Be born in us today. 

 

or

O God, who comes to us in Jesus Christ of Bethlehem, in our busy preparations and our joyous celebrations, may we not crowd you out of our minds, as he was crowded out of the inn on that first Christmas.  Forbid that we should spend all for passing pleasures and fail to find the deeper, richer joys that do not pass away with the close of the day.  Draw us back to his manger-bed.  Rekindle our sense of wonder and worship, and grant that, as we find you in the likeness of a little child, we may experience a new reverence for childhood, and a more sincere longing for those qualities of the heart which childhood incarnates.  Forgive our cynicism and pride, banish our doubts, and restore our faith in the things we cannot see or hear: the star that shines in human souls, and the song of peace that lingers over a world so troubled with war.  Like the shepherds, may we return to our humble lives knowing that heaven is not some distant place, but is ever near because of the coming of the Christchild, and that in him you have revealed yourself here, among even people like us.  Bless us, O God, one and all on this Christmas Day.  We lift our hearts in praise, and would seek to serve you as a follower of your beloved Son, assured that in following him is perfect freedom and peace.

 

or

From Common Worship: (“R” = Hear our prayer, O Lord. Another response may be substituted)

To us a child is born, to us a son is given; let us pray for the people he came to save.

Wonderful Counsellor, you order all things with your wisdom: help the Church to reveal the mystery of your love and fill her with the Spirit of truth: R

Mighty God, the government is on your shoulders: guide the leaders of the nations and bring in your kingdom of justice and righteousness: R

Everlasting Father, you call us to live together in unity: protect by your mercy all your children, bless our families and renew our communities: R

Prince of Peace, you bring reconciliation through the cross: by your healing power give to all who suffer your gift of wholeness and peace: R

Let us commend the world, to which Christ came, to the mercy and protection of God.

Open prayer may be offered and silence is kept. The Collect and Lord’s Prayer follow.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect

Almighty God,

you make us glad with the yearly remembrance

of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:

grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,

so we may with sure confidence behold him

when he shall come to be our judge;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Post Communion

Eternal God, for whom we wait,

you have fed us with the bread of eternal life:

keep us ever watchful,

that we may be ready to stand before the Son of man,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Alternative Collect

Almighty God,

as we prepare with joy

to celebrate the gift of the Christ-child,

embrace the earth with your glory

and be for us a living hope

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Service of Table

Preparation (Invitation)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who have lived in the shadow of death the light has shined. With the prophet’s words, let us joyfully participate in sharing the life-giving work of God in our world today as we prepare the Table of Christ with the offerings of our lives and our labors.

 

or

We come to this table as a people unprepared. Our world is as unready for the coming of Emmanuel as was the crowded town of Bethlehem. We are as un-attuned to the eternal as the sleeping shepherds in the field. Our expectations are as unclear as those of the travelers from the East. Though we are unprepared, though our lives are unworthy offerings, God has forgiven our sins and offered us newness of life through Jesus Christ. This is the grace of God in which we participate at this table. Come, share the feast.

 

or

Out of the darkness of our world, we have seen a great light.  The birth of the Christ Child calls us to something special.  God comes to us now in this busy season to make all things new.  God makes room for us, even when there is no room at the inn.  Where we are too busy, God brings peace.  Where we are lost, salvation.  Where we are sad, joy.  Where we are bitter, God gives us the courage to love again.  Rejoice!  Christ has come to us bringing all these gifts of God.  Let us join with the whole church to eat and drink with him.  May the bread we eat bet to us the very bread of life.  May the cup we share be God’s wine of salvation.  Let us celebrate Emmanuel – God is with us – as we come to his table in faith.  You are welcome here – all of you.  It is he who invites you, and it is he who gives you life.

 

Offertory Prayer

Thank you, God of Love, for the promise of this season. We are grateful for the generosity aroused in us by Christ’s coming into the world. May these gifts represent a new spirit of joyous sharing among us, for the sake of all your children everywhere. Amen.

 

Great Thanksgiving (if one is offered)

Holy God, creator of heaven and earth, we joyfully thank you and praise your name. You formed the universe in your wisdom, and created all things by your power. You set us in families on the earth to live with you in faith. We praise you for good gifts of bread and wine, and for the table you spread in the world as a sign of your love for all people. You alone are God, and we join ourselves with all your faithful beyond all time and space, and join in praising your holy name (and join their unending hymn: Holy, holy, holy Lord,..)

 

We praise you, Lord, for sending your only Son Jesus to live among us, full of grace and truth. He made you known to all who receive him. Sharing our joy and sorrow, he healed the sick, befriended sinners, and showed us the way to fulfillment in partnership with other people. Two by two he sent his disciples to extend your promise of friendship and love, and two by two he calls us still to work in your spirit of love. We trust him to overcome every power that can hurt or divide us, and believe that when he comes again in glory, we will celebrate victory with him throughout eternity at his heavenly table. (Words of Institution)

 

And so, in remembrance of all your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we take this bread and cup and give you thanks and praise. Pour out your Spirit upon us, that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of Christ, and that we, and all who share this feast, may be one with Christ and he with us. Fill us with eternal life, that with joy we may be his faithful people until we feast with him in glory. Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, Almighty God, now and forever. (Our father…) 

 

or (from William Flewelling)

Holy God

who has chosen to be known to us

through the Incarnate Lord Jesus,

we raise our souls in praise and thanksgiving

for your thorough gift of self,

even into our flesh and blood.

For in your stirring among us, Lord,

you fostered in us your own gifts of life.

You have opened in us the hope

of Jesus Christ.

You have borne in us the living Word.

You have drawn us to your own life in joy.

And so we come in awe,

rejoicing in your coming to us.

We come breaking bread

with which Jesus associated himself, saying:

This is my body.

We come sharing a cup of wine

with which Jesus gave the new covenant

in his blood.

Send forth your Spirit upon us

that in this feast we may be united in you,

that we may be fed and

that we may learn the tender gift of Christmas

in our flesh.

We pray in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Elders’ Prayers/Prayer of Thanksgiving

(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)

Holy God, you have created all and love all which you have created, we give you thanks for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ who came to live among us, full of grace and truth. As we receive from his Table, we ask that you would send the power of your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they would be for us the body and blood of Christ, and that as his one body we might go forth from this celebration to proclaim in word and deed the new life that is ours through the mysteries we receive. Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.

 

or

            Holy God, we praise and bless you for creation and the gift of life; and for your abiding love which brings us close to you, the source of all blessing.  We thank you for revealing your will for us in the giving of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

             We thank you especially that in the fullness of time you sent your only Jesus, born of Mary, to live in our midst, to embody your grace and truth in this world.  In this mystery of the word made flesh, you came to share in our struggles, and to cause the light of life to shine in our hearts.  We rejoice that when he had suffered death and the grave, you raised him from death with power to become king of kings and lord of lords.

            You have gathered your Church at your table to strengthen us to share the gift of eternal life.  Now send the power of your Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us Christ’s body and blood, and that we might be for the world Christ’s body, until at last we feast with him and all your people at the table of unending joy.

 

[if not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’”]

 

A Complete Service of the Nativity

 

+ The Gathering +

Welcome

(announcements, if any, including directions for communion, whether hymns will be announced, etc.)

 

Call to Worship

Beloved in Christ, with delight we prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the angels, and go in heart and mind to Bethlehem to see Mary and Joseph with Jesus in a manger.  Let us listen to the story of God’s saving acts and celebrate the birth of this Holy Child.  And let us make these hallowed walls reverberate with the glad tidings of great joy which is to all the people.

 

Organ Prelude

Choral Introit

* Greeting

L: Tonight old dreams die and new dreams come to life.

The promise is fulfilled.

    P:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: Hope gives way to joy and prayer to proclamation.

    P:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: The candles tell the story.  Dawn invades midnight.

The Light of the world has come.

    P:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.

L: This light is a light for all, warming us from within, radiating love,

lighting our lives with the presence of God in human flesh,

within us and among us now and always.

    P:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.  Goodwill to all.

* Hymn of Praise:  O Come, All Ye Faithful                                                                          

The Bidding Prayers  —Chalice Worship 98

Anthem

 

+ Service of the Word +

The Candle of Hope: The Promised Salvation

            Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 35:1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.  A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.  No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.  And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  (LIGHT CANDLE)

            Response:   Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus                                                                     

 

The Candle of Peace: The Kingdom of God

            Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.   The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;  but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.  Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.  The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.   On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.  (LIGHT CANDLE)

            Anthem

 

The Candle of Joy:  The Annunciation

            Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.   And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.  (LIGHT CANDLE)

            Response:  Joy to the World                                                                                                         

 

The Candle of Love:  The Magnificat

            Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.   His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.   He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”  (LIGHT CANDLE)

Hymn/Anthem

                                     

The Christ Candle:  Christ Is Born

            Scripture Reading:  Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.   This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.   Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.   When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.   The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (LIGHT CHRIST CANDLE)

  * Response:  Angels We Have Heard on High                                                                                   

The Proclamation

Anthem

 

+ Celebration of Christ’s Table +

Invitation to the Table

Out of the darkness of our world, we have seen a great light.  The birth of the Christ Child calls us to something special.  God comes to us now in this busy season to make all things new.  God makes room for us, even when there is no room at the inn.  Where we are too busy, God brings peace.  Where we are lost, salvation.  Where we are sad, joy.  Where we are bitter, God gives us the courage to love again.  Rejoice!  Christ has come to us bringing all these gifts of God.  Let us join with the whole church to eat and drink with him.  May the bread we eat bet to us the very bread of life.  May the cup we share be God’s wine of salvation.  Let us celebrate Emmanuel – God is with us – as we come to his table in faith.  You are welcome here – all of you.  It is he who invites you, and it is he who gives you life.

 

Anthem

Thanksgiving and The Lord’s Prayer 

            Holy God, we praise and bless you for creation and the gift of life; and for your abiding love which brings us close to you, the source of all blessing.  We thank you for revealing your will for us in the giving of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

             We thank you especially that in the fullness of time you sent your only Jesus, born of Mary, to live in our midst, to embody your grace and truth in this world.  In this mystery of the word made flesh, you came to share in our struggles, and to cause the light of life to shine in our hearts.  We rejoice that when he had suffered death and the grave, you raised him from death with power to become king of kings and lord of lords.

            You have gathered your Church at your table to strengthen us to share the gift of eternal life.  Now send the power of your Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us Christ’s body and blood, and that we might be for the world Christ’s body, until at last we feast with him and all your people at the table of unending joy.

Through him and with him and in him, all glory and honor are yours, Almighty God, now and forever, and with the confidence of your children we are bold to pray:  Our Father, who art in heaven…

Sharing of the Bread and Cup

Candle Lighting

* Hymn:  Silent Night                   

                                                           

* Christmas Blessing

Behold the Lord proclaims to all the earth, “Your salvation has come! You are my holy people, the redeemed, whom I have sought out, never to be forsaken.”  As God delights and rejoices over you, go in peace, rejoicing in the Lord.  And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

 

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2016.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2016; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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With the coming of Advent on Dec. 3, the Church celebrates a new year, as we shift from year A to year B in the lectionary.  Advent B postings will follow. 

The beginning of the season (and for some churches, the close of the previous one, on Nov. 26) affords the opportunity to “dress the church” for Advent.  Offered below are two services centered around “Hanging of the Greens,” one of which is gratefully borrowed, with reference, and the other accumulated from many places through the years. 

There also follows a Chrismon service, which may be adapted and added to any period during the season if Chrismons are used in worship.  Please advise us of what your congregation does to welcome the season, and keep us advised of references you may add to the adapted materials below.  –David Chafin, ed.

See also:

Advent Hymn by David T. Chafin, 2013

Advent Candle Lighting Rituals

 

Hanging of the Greens (from Advent 1C)

Choral Introit – “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

Lighting of the Altar Candles

The significance of the candles

Organ Prelude

Call to Worship

L:  As quietly as the winter steals upon us, the season of hope approaches.

P:  We wait for our redeemer, for god’s promise to be fulfilled.

L:  The day is coming quickly. The God of mercy draws near.

P:  Therefore, we wait with hope, attentive to all the signs of his coming.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Hymn of Praise:  Lift Up Your Heads, O Mighty Gates

Invocation and Lord’s Prayer

 

THE ADVENT WREATH

The First Lesson:  Jeremiah 33:14-16

The significance of the Advent Wreath

The Lighting of the Candle of Hope

The Litany of Hope

L: Christians around the world begin this day to await the advent of Christ.  We join a joyous and hopeful throng in lighting the Advent candles, symbols of our faith and signs of God’s love.

P:  We gather as a people of hope.

L: Christian people around the world stand together in breathless anticipation of a miracle that has been

repeated for hundreds of years, yet that astounds us anew each year.

P:  Our hope springs anew, from an ancient vision.

L:  As we light the first Advent candle, let it stand for hope            based not on wishful thinking, but on deep conviction.  We believe, we have seen, we have received the Prom  ise and the Great Gift, and therefore, in the midst of darkness and imperfection, we hope.

P:  We gather expectantly, joyfully, and with deep commitment, for we have heard that a special child is to come, that god is to be among us, and that soon we will see a new creation on earth.  We are a people of hope.

The Hymn of Hope:  One Candle is Lit, verse 1

 

Children’s Lesson:  The Holly and the Ivy

Solo:  The Holly and the Ivy

 

Congregation at Prayer

meditation:  Creator of the Stars of Night verse 1

response:  Creator of the Stars of Night, verse 2

 

The Second Lesson:  Isaiah 61: 1-4, 10-11

 

Sermon:  “Getting ‘Decked Out’ For Christmas

 

Hymn of Discipleship:  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

 

Communion:  Come, O Long Expected Jesus

 

Offering

 

Dismissal  When God is a Child,  verse 1

 

Full Text for Service Above

Significance of the Altar Candles (as the candles are being lit)

The lighting of candles has been a part of religious worship for centuries.  The Hebrews burned candles for eight days as a part of their Feast of Lights.  Since Jesus has been referred to as “the light of the world” in the New Testament, the lighting of candles has become an important part of our Christian worship.  Some early Christian leaders stated that the body of the candle represented the body of Christ, while the wick symbolized his soul, and the flame portrayed his divine nature. When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon referred to the Christ child as a “light to lighten the Gentiles.”  As we light these candles upon the altar we symbolize his coming in the world of darkness, sin and evil, war and strife, stress and turmoil, suffering and death.  He came to bring hope and help to those who were held captive by oppression, and to guide them to personal peace and joy through the illumination of the love of God.

Invocation

O God, in the weeks to come, our attention to this blessed and holy event, the birth of your Son, will be continually distracted.  help us to distinguish between the secular and the sacred, and to remember the true meaning of our joy and excitement.  Help us to refocus our minds and hearts on your loving and most precious gift to us, your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray as he taught us, saying, Our Father….

Advent Lighting:

Advent is a time of expectation, and this is symbolized not only by the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent candle on each Sunday of the season.  The flame of each new candle reminds the worshiper that something is happening, but something more is still to come. The Advent season will not be complete until all four candles are lighted, with the central Christ candle also burning brightly on Christmas Eve.

The tradition of the Advent wreath is traced back to an old Scandinavian custom that celebrated the coming of light after a season of darkness.  In that day candles were placed on the edge of a horizontal wheel.  As the wheel was spun around, the lighted candles would blend into a continuous circle of light.  Today we use a circle of evergreen to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows no beginning nor ending.

There is also symbolism in the colors of the candles in the Advent wreath.  The three purple, or white, candles symbolize the coming of Christ from the royal line of David.  He is coming as the King of Kings as well as the Prince of Peace.  the pink candle is lighted on the third sunday of the Advent season.  This candle symbolizes joy; its use goes back to the Latin church which asked the worshipers to fast during this period of time.

A progression is noted in the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath.  The first symbolizes expectation and hope.  The second reminds us that we are involved in a season of preparation for peace in the coming of Christ.  The third candle is proclamation, as we proclaim that Christ brought joy to the world when he appeared.  The revelation of God’s love for all humankind is portrayed by the lighting of the fourth candle.  The culmination of the season comes on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, as the Christ candle is lighted.

Let us join now in this season of expectation and hope as we light our first candle, the Hope Candle, and join in our Litany of Hope.

 

Chrismon Service

Today we celebrate with joy and Thanksgiving all that God has given to us… the love of family and friends; the beauty of creation and good food to sustain us.  And we also come on this last Sunday before Advent celebrating with thankful hearts the Christ ‑‑ the King of all that was and is and will be.

So it is appropriate in our celebration this morning to reflect with hearts filled with hope and faith on the symbols that represent the Christ which will stand before us throughout this joyous season.  Hear these words from the 22nd chapter of Revelation:

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads.  And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.

The tree as a religious symbol takes us back to the very beginning of history.  The Tree of Life enjoyed great popularity as a symbol for many centuries.  There was one in the Garden of Eden along with the Tree of Knowledge which caused the fall of Adam and Eve.  In the Middle Ages, the Cross was regarded as the Tree of Life.  We use evergreens at Christmas because of their representation of eternity ‑‑ always green even through the coldest winter months.  The lights which we hang are constant reminders of the hope that is ours in Christ, the Light of the World.   (light tree)

Anthem:  O Christmas Tree

Chrismons are monograms or symbols telling about the life, work and meaning of the life of Christ.  There were used by early Christians to show who they were and where they stood.  They often adorned tombs, jewelry, utensils, doors and other places.  In modern times, the symbols have been adopted and adapted by churches for the decorating of trees during Advent and Christmas to help us remember.   The Chrismons are traditionally white, symbolizing our Lord’s purity and gold , symbolizing his majesty.

Matthew 16: 13‑16:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Phillippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?  And they said, Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Christ is the title for the Messiah whom God sent to redeem his people.  The Greek monogram of the first letters of Christ ‑‑ Chi and Rho ‑‑ was one of the most widely used early Christian symbols.  Those who recognize Jesus as their Lord and Savior still use the Greek Chi, the X to identify themselves as his followers.

John 20: 30‑31:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

As early as the second century, Christians were using the fish as a symbol for the Christ.  Early Christians used the fish widely as an easily made and recognized secret sign.  During the times of the persecution of the church, Christians could find each other by using this simple password.   To the outsider the fish was a mere decoration; to the Christian, it was an affirmation of faith in the Christ.  The Greek word for fish ‑‑ ichthus, is an anagram on the first letters of the Greek words: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.

An ancient symbol appropriate to the themes of Advent may be found in the two Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end of the Greek alphabet.  Advent prepares us for the beginning and the end of the Christian epoch.  In Revelation 22 we read:                                                     Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”      This verse makes the word a title of Christ and a fitting symbol to represent his first and second comings.

Christ is the Word.  “He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:2‑3).  The orb, the round ball, represents the world, and Christ’s activity in creation and in the world around us.

These four symbols, the chi rho, the fish, the alpha and omega, and the orb, remind us of the one who is the Christ, who comes into the world in hope.

Let us sing together verse 2 of Love Divine all Loves Excelling.

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful  witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” Rev. 1: 5a.   One of the most common symbols of the trinity is three entwined circles representing God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  While there is no direct reference to the trinity in Scripture, there are many references to the one who is and was and is to come.

The concept of wisdom personified is found in Proverbs 8 and this made possible the application to Christ, the wisdom  from on high through whom all things were made.  A burning lamp is a traditional symbol for wisdom and for the Christ hearkening back to Psalm 119:  Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Although the Gospels do not say that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ while he was in the water, the scene is frequently pictured that way.  The Gospels do tell us that when Jesus had been baptized he went up out of the water, the heavens opened, and then he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove.  The descending dove then represents most frequently the baptism of our Lord.  Other doves are also seen frequently either resting or in flight and quite often represent the dove of peace, or the dove which reminds us of God’s covenant with the people of the earth that was made with Noah.  All are symbols of hope and the love of God.

The eight‑point star was a pre‑Christian figure that was adopted by Christians as a “concealed Chrismon during the Roman persecutions.  The crossing lines reveal Chi’s Rhos, and crosses to the initiate.  Then this design is used, one remembers that it was not always easy to be a Christian.  In today’s usage, the eight ‑pointed star generally refers to regeneration through Baptism in Christ.

Symbols of baptism, wisdom and the trinity ‑‑ may they all serve to remind us of the love of Christ which comes to each and every one of us.

Let us sing together vs. 3 of Love Divine all Loves Excelling.

The symbol of the cup is certainly no stranger to us.  Out denomination adopted the chalice as its symbol, because of the centrality of communion in the our worship services and in our lives.  But the cup also is a reminder of the cup of suffering, remembering Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane:  My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

Jesus’ suffering is also deeply symbolized for all of us in the cross ‑‑  So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.  There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

There are many forms and representations of the cross.  This one, the Greek cross that we hang on our tree this morning, has all arms of equal length.

One of the earliest symbols for the church was a ship:  indeed many churches were built to represent ships, at least one that is turned upside down.  the ceiling then becomes the hull of the ship; the pews the seats for those who rowed the great ships, the pulpit (which in early days was often raised) the wheelhouse or captains areas to oversee the rest.  It takes all persons on the ship to make it go and it takes God’s grace and wisdom as well.  Together we can sail into the world and serve the one who is the Christ.

Our last symbol is the cross over an orb ‑‑ the cross over the world, representing Christ over the world.  Jesus said, “God into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

Even at Advent we are called to do the same, through our Advent decorations we are continually reminded of the events in the life of Christ, of Christ’s victory over death, and of Christ’s call to each and every one of us today and every day.

If you have not accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is no time like the present;  or if you are seeking a church home, a community of faith to go through life with you, we invite you to come forward at this time, confessing Christ and uniting yourself with this part of Christ’s church, that we may grow and learn and live together in hope and in faith.

Hanging of the Greens: First Sunday of Advent

adaptation by Jeanyne Slettom

The Hanging of the Greens is a service for the first Sunday in Advent. It is based on the English tradtion of decorating the home with wreaths, garlands, a Christmas tree, and evergreens for Advent and Christmas. In a church setting, it readies the sanctuary (and church members) for the season. This service assumes a Protestant setting. It is adapted from an unknown source to reflect a process-relational theology.  Suggested hymns may be replaced by your favorites or appropriate anthems from a choir.

Prelude

Hymn  “Once in Royal David’s City”
Call to Worship – (Responsive)
How shall we prepare this house for the birth of Jesus?
            With branches of cedar, the tree of excellence and strength.
How shall we prepare this house for the eternal Christ?
            With garlands of pine and fir, whose leaves are ever living, ever green.
How shall we prepare this house for the prophet of Galilee?
            With wreaths of holly and ivy, telling of his passion, death and resurrection.
How shall we prepare our hearts for this revelation of God?
            By hearing again the words of the prophets and the promises of God.
For in the story of Jesus we see revealed the transforming power of God
We are reminded anew of God’s vision
of wholeness, justice, and peace for all of creation.
            Thanks be to God.

Passing of the Peace

Choir Anthem

Pastor’s Time with Children
The legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up in the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but were always saddened because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished that they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus. But they had nothing.
One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. On their way they picked some weeds growing along the roadside and decided to take them as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Of course other children teased them when they arrived with their gift, but they said nothing for they knew they had given what they could. Maria and Pablo began placing the green plants around the manger and miraculously, the green top leaves turned into bright red petals, and soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and so we see them today. [Note:These paragraphs are posted on several internet sites.]

Organ solo/choir anthem/vocal solo “Los peces en el río” [Children arrange plants.]

The meaning of the service

Almost 2,000 years ago, the story goes, a clutch of sleepy shepherds were watching over their sheep on a star-brightened hillside in Palestine. It was a still, uneventful night. Suddenly the darkness was filled with a strange light. The stillness was broken by angel voices singing “Glory to God in the Highest, on earth peace, goodwill to all.” So begins Christmas, the most beautiful and meaningful celebration of the Christian calendar.

Christmas actually begins with Advent, the season through with we are moving. Both the seasons of Advent―the season of “going toward” the birth of Christ―and Christmas have a long history. These seasons and their customs have developed through many centuries and many countries. Old customs and observances are refined, renewed, replaced; new ones are added. Some of our customs have pagan origins but have been “converted” by redefining their meanings. What is significant for us is not what they may once have meant but rather what they mean for us today.

This morning our church building will begin to wear its Christmas apparel. For the first time our Christmas trees stand in the sanctuary. This day for the first time its lights will shine for us. As we make ready for the birth of the child by preparing this sanctuary, we make ready ourselves and the sanctuary of our own hearts. We are mindful that, although it is not Christmas yet, it will be here soon, very soon.

As we decorate the church, not only will we explain the history of the symbols of these special seasons, but we will rededicate these symbols―and ourselves―to the service of God. Let us prepare by listening an ancient hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”

Solo:   “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” [Verses 1,3, &4]

Significance of the colors [paraments]

The cycle around which our worship revolves is the church year. Today, the first Sunday in Advent, marks the beginning of a new church year. Paraments, which cover our communion table, pulpit, and lectern, are something like drapes and curtains in a home. With the changing colors of the church year, they attract attention, add variety, and point to the significance of the season or festival being celebrated. The traditional color for Advent is purple, a color that signifies the sacred, and spiritual fulfillment. Some traditions use blue, which represents anticipation and promise. As we prepare our communion table, pulpit, and lectern with the paraments, let us sing verses 1-3 of “We Hail You God’s Anointed.”

Hymn  “We Hail You God’s Anointed”  [Place paraments on the communion table, pulpit, and lectern.]       

God Will Send a Light to the Nations [Advent wreath & candles]

Scripture Reading  Isaiah 60:2-3     Reader:______________

The lighting of candles has been a part of religious worship for centuries. The Hebrews burned candles for eight days as part of their Feast of Lights. Light has been used by many religious groups to symbolize truth, while the darkness of night has been the universal symbol for evil. Since Jesus was called “the light of the world” in the New Testament, the lighting of candles has become an important part of our Christian worship. Some early Christian leaders stated that the wax of altar candles represented the body of Christ, while the wick symbolized his soul, and the flame portrayed his divine nature. Candles made from pure beeswax were used to signify Mary, since this wax comes from virgin bees. This has resulted in the practice of some churches to burn only beeswax candles upon the altar or communion table. When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon referred to the Christ child as “a light to lighten the Gentiles.” From this statement, church leaders have used candles to symbolize the light of Christ shining throughout a broken world. As we light these candles upon the communion table, we symbolize God, Emmanuel, God with us, whose transforming power heals the world of sin and evil, war and strife, stress and turmoil, suffering and despair. Jesus embodies hope and help for those held captive by oppression. His ministry guides us to personal peace and joy through the illumination of his message of the love of God. As the candles on the communion table are lit, let us sing the first verse of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel[Communion table candles are lit.]

Advent is a time of expectation, and this is symbolized not only by the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent candle on each Sunday of the season. The four candles provide us with a visual way to count off four Sundays of this season. The flame of each new candle reminds us that something is happening, but something more is still to come. The Advent season is not complete until all four candles are lighted, with the central Christ candle also burning brightly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The tradition of the Advent wreath is traced back to an old Scandinavian custom that celebrated the coming of light after a season of darkness. In that day, candles were place on the edge of a horizontal wheel. As the wheel was spun around, the lighted candles would blend into a continuous circle of light. Today we use a circle of evergreen to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows no beginning nor ending.

There is also symbolism in the colors of the candles in the Advent wreath. The three purple candles symbolize the coming of Christ from the royal line of David. The pink candle is lighted on the third Sunday of the Advent season. This candle symbolizes joy; its use goes back to the Latin Church, which asked the worshipers to fast during this period of time.  Will the children come forward and stand with me as we light the first candle.

The Gospel of John speaks of Christ as the true light coming into the world. In commemoration of that coming, we light candles for the four weeks leading to Christmas and reflect on the coming of Christ. It is significant that the church has always used that language—the coming of Christ—because it speaks to a deep truth. Christ is coming. Christ is always coming, always entering a troubled world, a wounded heart. And so we light the first candle, the candle of hope, and dare to express our longing for peace, for healing, and the well-being of all creation.

(One candle is lit.)

Loving God, as we enter this Advent season, we open all the dark places in our lives and memories
to the healing light of Christ. Show us the creative power of hope. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you, that we may walk in the light of Christ.

As the children return to their places let us all sing verse six of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

God will send a righteous king [cedar]

Scripture Reading  Jer. 23: 5 – 6    Reader:______________

In ancient times the cedar tree was revered as the tree of excellence and endurance. It also signified immortality and was used for purification. We place this cedar branch as a sign of Christ and of the kind of power he wielded: not the the power of might, but the power of transformation. As we contemplate his call to justice and peace, we seek to purify our hearts and “renew a right spirit within us.”

[Place cedar branch on the communion table.]

Hymn     “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”   verse 7

The prophet declares a child will be born (evergreens)

Scripture Reading  Isaiah 9:2, 6-7      Reader:______________

Have you ever wondered why we talk about the “hanging of the greens?” Or why an evergreen is called an evergreen? And why Christmas greens are traditionally used to emphasize the nativity? Green represents renewal, new life, freshness, and rebirth. Plants such as pine, fir, holly, ivy, and mistletoe are called evergreens because they do not die; through the seasons of the year, they remain ever-green. Ever-alive. It is no wonder then that we deck our sanctuary and halls with evergreens during this Advent season. Advent is the season of preparation for the ever-coming  Christ, God’s gift to us of renewal and transformation.

Because the needles of the pine and fir trees appear not to die each season, the ancients saw them as signs of things that last forever. Isaiah tells us that there will be no end to the reign of the Messiah. Therefore, we hand this wreath of evergreens shaped in a circle, which in itself has no end, to signify that the kingdom of God, to which Christ so eloquently testified, is also without end, and is realized wherever truth, justice, and peace prevail.

[Hang wreaths.]

Hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter”

The fourth servant song [holly]

Scripture Reading Isaiah  53:1-6    Reader:______________

For Christians, this passage from Isaiah reflects the sufferings of Jesus on the cross and God’s transformation of that event into the promise of life. In ancient times, holly and ivy were considered signs of Christ’s passion. Their prickly leaves suggested the crown of thorns, the red berries the blood of the Savior, and the bitter bark the drink offered to Jesus on the cross.

Hymn  The Holly and the Ivy
[Place holly sprigs on the communion table.]

The mystery of the incarnation [Christmas tree]

Scripture Reading  John 1:1-5, 9-14     Reader:______________

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World, we light the Christmas tree. During this season of Advent, whenever you see a lighted Christmas tree, let it call to mind the One who brings light to our darkness, healing to our brokenness, and peace to all who receive him.

Hymn  “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”   [Note: You may prefer the words, “O eternal love begotten”]
[Plug in tree lights. Children decorate tree.]

Blessing of the Christmas Tree – Unison

Loving God, we come with joy to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose path of justice and inclusivity lights a path for all who follow him. May this tree, arrayed in splendor, remind us of the life-giving cross of Christ, that we may always rejoice in the new life that shines in our hearts. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Nativity scene

The original crib in which the Christ Child was laid was a manger in the stable, a sign of his humble birth. The popular Christmas crèche at churches and in homes creates a tableau of Jesus in the stable crib at Bethlehem, depicting scenes described by Luke and Matthew.

St. Francis of Assisi is often credited with the first manger scene about 800 years ago. For a people who could not read it was an effective visual aid in telling the story of the birth of Jesus. We have such a scene here. I invite the children to arrange the wise men, shepherds, animals, angels, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.

[Organ music.]

[When the children are finished, they assemble to sing.]

Children:    “Away in a Manger”
Pastoral Prayer

Lord’s Prayer

Offering

Doxology
Prayer of Thanksgiving

We dedicate our lives and all that we have to the work of life, of love, of peace. Receive our gifts and lead us in wisdom and courage. Amen.

Commission and Blessing
Take time, in the busyness of this season, for quiet reflection—
For the light of God’s love is discernible everywhere.
            We will let ourselves be surprised by wonder,
            And set aside time to offer quiet thanks.

The good news of Advent is this:
Christ is coming. Christ is always coming.
            We will welcome Christ into our hearts.
            We will let ourselves be guided by his ministry.
            We will go forth from this place in hope.

Hymn    “Come, O Long-Expected Jesus”

Benediction

Benediction Response     “Amen”

Postlude 

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Christ the King, Year A

 

Nov. 26

 

This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

 

Support Our Work … read how you can help keep lifeinliturgy.org available for use without subscription charges.

 

Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a Ephesians 1:15-23 Matthew 25:31-46

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

276-We gather together

234 – Crown him with many crowns

17 – O worship the King

91/92 – All Hail the power of Jesus’ name

711 – O Day of peace that dimly shines

387 – Bread of the world, in mercy broken

429-You satisfy the hungry heart

 

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Hymn of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

On Matthew 25:31-46

 

Here, O our Lord, come sheep and goats,

mingled and gathered as we are.

Right hand and left are we assigned,

restless and bated evermore.

 

Words are arising to our ears,

calling out all our steady ways,

times of our notice, our neglect,

all for the least, and you, O Christ.

 

How we attended we forgot,

all was as if it were the same.

Here, our surprise astounds our voice

for we have been and done each day.

 

Now, in the face of your design,

we, baffled, honor your desire.

How is it now we answer love

in your directing sacrifice.

 

LM         Suggested tune: Duke Street

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent).  A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin.  Where practical, these may be offered here as well.  You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

This week:  Psalm 100 is on p. 752 and see also Call to Worship

 

Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor.  If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention.  No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.

 

Call to Worship  (from Psalm 100)

L: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.

P: Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

L: Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his;

P: We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

L: Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to God, bless his name.

P: For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

O God, you are infinite, eternal and unchangeable, glorious in holiness, full of love and compassion, abundant in grace and truth. All your works praise you in all places of your dominion and your glory is revealed in Jesus Christ our savior, therefore we praise you, blessed and holy trinity, one god, for ever and ever (praying as he taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

God of overwhelming mercy, you have claimed each generation of people as your family, fellow workers, and heirs of your grace. From the wealth of your storehouses an endless stream of love, mercy, and wisdom has washed over your people. Wave upon wave of endless light sweeps over us. How great are your storehouses, O God, how vast, how varied your gifts! In this hour enable us to open our hearts and receive your gifts. We praise you for the treasure of your love poured out for us and for all, in a thousand ways, through Christ our Lord (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

God, you call us into your holy place – this solemn assembly.  Let our hearts be made full of praise, our eyes full of wonder at your mercies, and our lips quick to tell of your blessings to us in your son Jesus Christ our Sovereign Lord.  Let our praise be for the guidance of your hand and the righteousness with which you execute justice, that we might be your presence to our broken and hurting world.  This we pray through Christ our Lord  (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

Almighty and wonderful God.  We enter your courts with thanksgiving and praise, knowing that you have made us, and remembering we are loved.  We have come to praise your mighty acts, to offer our petitions, and celebrate remembrance.  Let us know your guarding presence, as sheep with their shepherd, as we seek to honor you for all your good works; this we pray through Christ our Lord  (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

How vast and deep is your love O God, for us and for all the world. As we give you thanks for the beauty of creation and for the gift of life, we turn to you for strength and guidance to help those of our world in need of care and healing.

 

We pray for our community, our nation and world that peace and justice might be made known. We pray for our families and friends, especially those who are hurting, sick, grieving or alone. We pray for our own burdens and needs, both spoken and unspoken…

 

We yield our lives to you as we offer our prayers in the strong and saving name of Jesus. Amen.

 

OR

God of Creation, God of Wonder, hear this offering of prayer and praise as a gift from our thankful hearts. We thank you for the wonders all around us. For grains of sand, the smell of rain falling on dry ground, for the shifting of the seasons and the sound of laughter. We thank you God for one another – for the joys and struggles of relationships that nurture us and help us to grow. God, we thank you for your eternal presence in our midst and for the good news of your deep abiding love for all of creation.

 

Even as we give thanks, we lift up the concerns that burden us this day. We ask your peace and blessing on all those we have named in this place today and all whose names and circumstances remain in the safe sanctuary of your Spirit’s care. We pray for all who are suffering in body, mind or spirit and for all who provide care for the needs of others. We pray for the lonely and the despairing…for those who struggle with addiction…for those who feel trapped in situations of abuse…for those who making difficult decisions in life… God we pray for your church and its mission in the world.

 

Bless all of your children God, and pour your Spirit upon us, bringing healing, comfort and strength wherever it is needed. All this we ask in the name of the One who calls us forward in faith, Jesus Christ our Sovereign Lord (who taught us to pray, saying “Our Father…”)

 

OR

Gracious God, who supplies us with every blessing in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving.  Open us to remember the gifts we seldom notice, the bounty we take for granted, the rich possibilities you provide.  For bread without scarcity, for water that is pure, for houses to live in and friends to enjoy, we give you humble thanks.

 

We lift to you all those whose lives are linked with our own.  We remember (_______and) all those whom we name to you in silence.  [SILENCE IS KEPT] Touch their lives with your grace and your peace, that they would know your love in these days of illness and unknowing and struggle.

 

In the days ahead, may we be more aware of the bounty for which we need to be grateful and of all the little things that make us who we are which we often overlook or ignore.  Help us to be more mindful every day of your goodness and love.

 

For beauty and bounty, for healing and hope, for the gospel of our salvation, we lift our voices in praise to you, Creator God, in Christ’s name.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven    that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Post Communion Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. This Post Communion may be used as the Collect at Morning and Evening Prayer during this week. Additional Collect God the Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory.

 

Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all

things in your well beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord

of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth,

divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together

under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Collect of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

Matthew 25:31-46

 

In all our busyness, O God,

we clamor after images of images of ghosts,

escaping all review.

At hand are ever those whose need

illumines our capacity

within unknowing’s reach.

Begin in us the welcome of the want

that harrows hears and teases hopes

and introduces us to you

in Jesus Christ.

 

Service of Table  

Offertory / Invitation to Give

Every time we come to the table, we are called to share in the offering. Christ’s body and blood was and is the offering of all offerings. That alone ought to appeal to us to give. Our giving will aid others in remembering him and give them the good news of life in Christ.

 

If our offering enables us to feed the hungry, give a drink of clean water to the thirsty, welcome a stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, then Christ himself will bless that offering. Hear him say, “Come, blessed ones of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for as you did it for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

 

OR

We are a blessed people.  In this season of Thanksgiving, it is good that we recall God’s many gifts in our lives, and grace which God has given us to help us use them all for good.  As we ready ourselves to join the great Feast of Thanksgiving, a feast which God has made for us in Christ Jesus, let us consider just how welcome we are to receive of it – all of us – and to share the gifts of it for the sake of the world.  For the gifts of God are many, and they are made real in this meal, and in the family of God gathered around it.  Let us bring forth our tithes and offerings.

 

Offertory Prayer

May these gifts bring light to those who walk in darkness, hope to those who live in despair, and justice to those who are oppressed. Grant to each giver a sense of participation in the most important opportunity of all time: to share your love with the world. To this end we dedicate our offerings and ourselves. Amen.

 

OR

We would crown you as our Sovereign, O Christ, as you have crowned the year with mercy and kindness in the giving of yourself for the sake of the world.  May our lives, expressed in these offerings, and may the ministries of your beloved church, truly proclaim what our hearts have believed: that you are our Lord who will reign forever and ever.  Amen.

 

Invitation to the Table

The celebration of the Christian Year comes to an astounding and world-changing ending as we hear Christ’s call to live out the gospel of Jesus in real and practical ways.  We are, in Christ, called to feed those who hunger, and by his self-giving example have learned just how costly that calling can be.  All who would live among his flock are likewise called to remember the price that Christ our Sovereign Lord has paid for the salvation of the world, and to bring forth in this present age, in sign and in deed, the hope of life in God’s abundance.  We show forth that abundance in this breaking of bread together, and look forward to his coming in final victory to be known as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Let us come to the Table of Christ in faith.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)

(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, for you provide for us this bread and wine – fruit of the earth and work of human hands. May it be for us the body and blood of Christ, as we who gather at your table seek to be strengthened by your presence. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit, that as those who would be numbered among your faithful children we may bring forth in our lives and our communities the manifest reality of your reign which has no end, for we pray in the name of Christ. Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever.

 

OR

Holy One, you speak to us in silence, yet all languages interpret you. Because you call us into this community, we are able to become a gift to one another. We pray for your Holy Spirit to descend upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that in sharing them we may discern your presence which becomes our life. We thank you for your anointed one, Jesus, who through his life, crucifixion, death and resurrection lived fully the promise of redemptive wholeness that is available to all who would obey your creating will, and who now lives evermore to make intercession for us. We celebrate his gifts, we rejoice in your presence, loving God, now and always.

 

OR

  1. It is always right and just to praise you, God our Father, for you have always sought and found us.  As we give you praise for Jesus Christ, the shepherd and guardian of our souls, we offer thanks for this bread, which is to be for us his body.  May we who receive him from your hands be encouraged to lives of thankful praise, and be empowered by your Spirit to offer him to the world which you have redeemed through your own great love.

 

 

  • This cup, O God, we offer to your service.  Send down your Holy Spirit, we pray, that as we receive your gifts – bread broken and wine poured – our lives might be made whole, and be offered to you anew for faithful service.  This we pray in the name of Christ our Lord and King.

 

 

Conclusion:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.

If not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2016.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2016; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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Pentecost +24, Proper 28A

 

Nov. 19 – Thanksgiving Sunday

 

This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

 

Support Our Work … read how you can help keep lifeinliturgy.org available for use without subscription charges.

 

Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Judges 4:1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12  1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Matthew 25:14-30

 

Thanksgiving Sunday

This is not at all inappropriate, considering the nature of the lectionary and a careful study of the nature of the holiday in American culture.  However, it is important to be aware of the universality of the Church, and of this observance of Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday.  It is not to be trivialized into a rehash of American triumphalism or a “divine rights” celebration.  All are urged to let the texts speak for themselves, and to use care in pairing music and other elements of the day in concert with the themes of scripture. The texts above are certainly appropriate to the day, but also see:

Deuteronomy 8:7-18 Psalm 65 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Luke 17:11-19

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

718-Come, ye thankful people, come,

276-We gather together

429-You satisfy the hungry heart

717-Let all things now living

 

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Hymn of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

On 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

 

Upon the dawn that greets the day,

O Lord, we do aspire

your coming mercy to attain

upon your coming hour.

 

Indeed, with mystery intact,

we rummage to arrive,

to undertake your service, Lord,

in unity and love.

 

For, though you come upon the night,

as like a thief’s surprise,

we find our eagerness supplies

the welcome of your poise.

 

Create among us, now, O Lord,

the satisfying plea,

that in our waiting on your joy

we own community.

 

Into this common life we share,

become the earnest, Lord,

the dawning of surpassing joy

that we may prove your own.

 

CM      Suggested tune: Caithness

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent).  A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin.  Where practical, these may be offered here as well.  You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

This week:  Psalm 90 is on p. 746

 

Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor.  If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention.  No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.

 

Call to Worship  adapted from John Berringer

L: Come, let us use our voices to praise the Lord.

P: Our mouths will shout forth praise.

L: Let us use our minds to ponder the wondrous deeds of God.

P: We will call to mind God’s mighty acts.

L: With all of our strength and being, let us worship the Lord of love.

P: We will worship from our depths. Our souls exult in God!

 

OR

L: God has promised a new heavens and new earth.

P: There, the former things are forgotten and all things are made new. 

L: In God’s promised world, there is hope for justice and peace among all peoples.

P: May our eyes be opened to the promised future as we celebrate God’s faithful presence with us this day.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

We call on your name, O God, for you have offered us the cup of salvation and welcomed us into your family. How can we thank you for the love you have shown us in Jesus Christ. Meet us again in this hour, that we may grow in faith and be responsive to your truth. Fill us with hope, renewing our confidence to face life in faithful trust and obedience. This we pray through Christ our Lord (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

Great is your name, O God of all creation, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.  As we give you thanks and praise in this gathering of your people, we pray that you would adjust our vision and align it with your own – your vision for a world made new – that we may fervently pray for it and work for it in the days that lie ahead.  This we pray in the name of Christ  (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

Lord God, we give you thanks for all your gifts to us—for daily food, for health, for each breath we take, for freedom to choose, and for the gifts of your word, your power and your love. Our hearts are truly overwhelmed, O God, when we consider how you have entrusted so much to us. May we be worthy of that trust—may we be a people who are unafraid to live as fully and as richly as you want us to live.

 

Help us, O God, as followers of Jesus, to multiply all that you have given us, to risk spreading your word and perhaps see it misunderstood, to gamble by loving those whom others think worthy only of hate, to take chances by doing good to those who have not done good to us. Help us be faith filled and desire to increase your glory and your goodness in this world. Make us people who share in both word and deed that which you have given to us.

 

We pray for the church gathered today, both here and around the world, that it may encourage all of its members to discover, develop and use all their gifts, those of nature and those of grace.

 

We pray for those who are poor in body or in spirit, for those oppressed and heavy laden, for those sick or in despair.   Minister by your Spirit and by us, to all those for whom we have prayed, and help us walk faithfully in the path of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

OR

God of Creation, God of Wonder, hear this offering of prayer and praise as a gift from our thankful hearts. We thank you for the wonders all around us. For grains of sand, the smell of rain falling on dry ground, for the shifting of the seasons and the sound of laughter. We thank you God for one another – for the joys and struggles of relationships that nurture us and help us to grow. God, we thank you for your eternal presence in our midst and for the good news of your deep abiding love for all of creation.

 

Even as we give thanks, we lift up the concerns that burden us this day. We ask your peace and blessing on all those we have named in this place today and all whose names and circumstances remain in the safe sanctuary of your Spirit’s care. We pray for all who are suffering in body, mind or spirit and for all who provide care for the needs of others. We pray for the lonely and the despairing…for those who struggle with addiction…for those who feel trapped in situations of abuse…for those who making difficult decisions in life… God we pray for your church and its mission in the world.  Bless all of your children God, and pour your Spirit upon us, bringing healing, comfort and strength wherever it is needed. All this we ask in the name of the One who calls us forward in faith, Jesus Christ our Sovereign Lord

 

OR

Gracious God, who supplies us with every blessing in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving.  Open us to remember the gifts we seldom notice, the bounty we take for granted, the rich possibilities you provide.  For bread without scarcity, for water that is pure, for houses to live in and friends to enjoy, we give you humble thanks.

 

We lift to you all those whose lives are linked with our own.  We remember (_______and) all those whom we name to you in silence.

 

Touch their lives with your grace and your peace, that they would know your love in these days of illness and unknowing and struggle.

 

In the days ahead, may we be more aware of the bounty for which we need to be grateful and of all the little things that make us who we are which we often overlook or ignore.  Help us to be more mindful every day of your goodness and love.

 

For beauty and bounty, for healing and hope, for the gospel of our salvation, we lift our voices in praise to you, Creator God, in Christ’s name.

 

OR

Our tender and compassionate God asks us to pray for all people.  Let us offer our prayers for the world in need, trusting in God’s great love.

 

Gracious God, we pray for the church around the world.  As the broken bread, though once scattered as grain on the hillsides become one loaf, so may your church be one in spirit throughout the earth, and one in witness to your saving love.

 

Lord, lead our leaders throughout the Church.  Grant them your wisdom, that by their deeds they may encourage the faithful and witness to the world and its people.  Eternal ruler of the universe, we pray for those who govern every land, and for the people committed to their charge.  Look with grace upon the president of our country, and the legislators who guide our lives.  Turn the hearts of leaders and peoples to you, that governments may seek the good of humanity and of all who suffer.

 

God, you suffer with those who suffer.  We pray for those who are denied what they need to live and those whose dreams have been shattered by war and disaster.  We pray especially for those who suffer in the season of plenty.  Reach out and bring healing through the hands of your faithful people.

 

Holy Comforter, healing Spirit, grant your peace to those who are sick and those who grieve, and especially those of our own church families who are suffering today.  Radiate through their lives with the light of your presence, that renewed healing and strength may be theirs.

 

We pray, dear Lord, for those whose actions offend us most and for those whom we have learned to fear and despise.  Through your great love, make tender all hearts hardened by hatred, bigotry and suspicion; and work your justice among us.

 

God of hope and new life, help us to see the joy and abundant life you intend for us. Forgive our shortsightedness and often miserly attitudes toward the created world which you have entrusted to our care.  Give us your peace–peace which is not so much an absence of trouble, as an awareness of your guiding presence and bounteous gifts in all that we do; for these our prayers we bring to you in the name of Jesus the Christ.

 

Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for

our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn,

and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever

hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have

given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

OR

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the

fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those

who harvest them.  Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of

your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and

the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

Collect of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

Matthew 25:14-30

 

Entrusted with the unimagined grace, O God,

we tend our daily fare

with boldness and despair.

Arouse in us the living heart to reap repair

and undertake the lively care

you seek in us,

that hearts of unimagined grace

may garner love’s exceeding pace.

 

Service of Table  

Offertory / Invitation to Give

God has offered the world a new vision of life which is full and abundant, teeming with all the good gifts that have been lavished upon us in Christ Jesus.  May we be open to receiving them with gratitude, and in offering them, along with ourselves, for the sake of others, even as the gifts of this Table are offered not for us alone, but for the salvation of the whole world.  Let us bring forth our tithes and offerings to God.

 

OR

We are a blessed people.  In this season of Thanksgiving, it is good that we recall God’s many gifts in our lives, and grace which God has given us to help us use them all for good.  As we ready ourselves to join the great Feast of Thanksgiving, a feast which God has made for us in Christ Jesus, let us consider just how welcome we are to receive of it – all of us – and to share the gifts of it for the sake of the world.  For the gifts of God are many, and they are made real in this meal, and in the family of God gathered around it.  Let us bring forth our tithes and offerings.

 

Offertory Prayer

Give us thankful hearts, O God, for your grace to us in life and health and strength. Let these gifts of your bounty and of our hands be used to glorify you now and in your church’s work forever. Amen

 

OR

Bring forth the fullness of your vision to us, O God, as we open our hearts to you in the giving of these gifts.  Like the praise we sing, may they bring glory to your name, now and in your world forever.  Amen.

 

Invitation to the Table

(Communion Affirmation – offered in Chalice Hymnal, #401 from the words of A. Campbell)

L: You, my beloved, once and alien, are now a citizen of heaven: once a stranger, are now brought home to the family of God.  You have owned my Lord as your Lord, my people as your people.

P:  Under Jesus the Messiah we are one.  Mutually embraced in the everlasting arms, I embrace you in mine: your sorrows shall be my sorrows, and your joys my joys.

L: Joint debtors to the favor of God and the love of Jesus, we shall jointly suffer with him, that we may jointly reign with him.

P:  Let us, then, renew our strength, remembering our Sovereign, and hold fast our boasted hope unshaken to the end.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)

(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)

Eternal One, who cares for each one of us as if you had no one else to care for, and who cares for all of us even as you care for each, we come here because you have invited us. We recognize at the deepest levels of our beings that it is at this table that we are affirmed and made whole. Send forth the power of your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine. Enable us to know now the presence of the Christ, the one who calls us to be family, the one in whose presence no other can be called a stranger. Forgive us that we have been hard of heart, that we have failed to acknowledge others as brothers and sisters. Enable us now to accept the fact that we are members of one another, that we are family with all of your creation, and that we are all loved by you. We pray these things in the name of the Christ who has called us to you.

 

OR

  1. You, O God, are the helper of the helpless.  In every age of our distress, you have come to us with an outstretched arm, a word of forgiveness, and nourishment for the journey.  As we give you thanks for your faithful love and consecrate this bread to your purposes, receive our gifts, we pray, that as they are offered to you again you may multiply them, so that we and your hungering world might be fed.

 

  1. Lord of Life, as you have blessed the earth with fruit and inspired your children to make good use of it, we ask that you would now bless this wine – fruit of the earth and work of human hands – that it might be for us the blood of Christ, the cup of our salvation.  Send down the power of your Spirit upon these gifts and upon us who gather here out of love for you, that as we receive and find renewal, we might learn to give of ourselves for the salvation of the world.  This we pray in Christ’s name.

 

OR

  1. It is always right and just to praise you, God our Father, for you have always sought and found us.  As we give you praise for Jesus Christ, the shepherd and guardian of our souls, we offer thanks for this bread, which is to be for us his body.  May we who receive him from your hands be encouraged to lives of thankful praise, and be empowered by your Spirit to offer him to the world which you have redeemed through your own great love.

 

  1. This cup, O God, we offer to your service.  Send down your Holy Spirit, we pray, that as we receive your gifts – bread broken and wine poured – our lives might be made whole, and be offered to you anew for faithful service.  This we pray in the name of Christ our Lord and King.

 

Conclusion:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.

If not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2016.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2016; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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Pentecost +23, Proper 27A

 

Nov. 12

 

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Scripture  (from the Revised Common Lectionary, with links provided by TextWeek.com – a source for thoughtful worship and preaching throughout the year):

 

Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24 Psalm 78:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 or Psalm 70 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

464 – God of grace and God of glory

700-O Day of God draw nigh

472 – We Are living, we are dwelling

390 – Lord of our highest love

66-God, whose giving knows no ending

517-Love Divine, all loves excelling

422-Let us talents and tongues employ

 

More hymn suggestions, as well as helpful references for use of the arts in worship, are available from the United Church of Christ website.   

 

Hymn of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

On Amos 5:18-24

 

Flee from the lion unto the bear;

seek safety, find the serpent’s bite.

As darkness closes – not the light –

find gloom encompassing delight.

 

It is the shadow of the day,

the Lord’s Day, promising a gloom

to shroud the pantomime of glee,

assemblies solemnly decreed.

 

The eagerness of God: arise,

and honor justice for the poor;

anoint the daily turn again

with ever-flowing righteousness.

 

Beginning in the font of peace,

of care upon the least we find,

allow the melody of right

take mercy, truth, delight in tune.

 

LM          Suggested tune: Rivaulx

 

Dealing with the Psalm of the Day:

Since Chalice Hymnal does not provide a complete Psalter, there will be occasions when suggestions may be made for alternate Psalm use (or hymn equivalent).  A metrical version of the Psalter, for those Psalms not provided in Chalice Hymnal, is being prepared by Rev. David Chafin.  Where practical, these may be offered here as well.  You may also want to visit http://lectionarypsalms.org/   

This week:  Psalm 78 is not in Chalice Hymnal.

 

Concerning the Following Items: Except where otherwise noted, items are created or adapted by the editor.  If you are aware of source notations which are missing, please bring them to his attention.  No copyright infringement is intended, but is sure to happen.

 

Call to Worship   (from Phil. 2)

L: We gather in the presence of Christ to join our hearts and minds in praise of God.

P: God has exalted Jesus and given him a name above every name.

L: So let every knee bend, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess:

P: Jesus Christ is Lord. Glory to God forever!

 

OR

L: Thank the Lord with all your heart, in the gathered assembly of God’s people.

P: Mighty are the deeds of the Lord; great are the God’s works,

     studied by all who have pleasure in them.

L: Holy and awesome is God’s name!

To worship the Lord is the highest wisdom; those who do so know all that is good.

P: God’s praises will last forever.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

You who have created us and sustain us: we come with thanksgiving for these moments when we can ease the pace of our lives and listen for your voice. Create a spirit within us that truly draws us toward you and toward our brother and sisters; a spirit deep, perceptive, gentle and bold. Clear our minds, open our hearts and touch us with your presence and your power. We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

Mighty and merciful God, may your kindness be known to all. Hear the prayers of all who cry to you; open the eyes of those who never pray for themselves; have mercy on those who are in misery; deal gently with those who sit in darkness; increase the number of those who love and serve you daily. Preserve our land from all things hurtful, preserve our Church from all dangerous error, preserve our people from forgetting that you are their Lord and Saviour. Be gracious to those countries that are made desolate by war, famine, disease, or persecution, and grant that the course of the world may be so ordered in obedience to your will that the people may live in security and freedom from want, and their children grow up to be makers of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayers from the Book of Common Order, Church of Scotland, on oremus.org)

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed    to destroy the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life: grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Post Communion Gracious Lord, in this holy sacrament you give substance to our hope: bring us at the last to that fullness of life for which we long; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Additional Collect Heavenly Lord, you long for the world’s salvation: stir us from apathy, restrain us from excess and revive in us new hope that all creation will one day be healed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Collect of the Day (from Book of Common Prayer, 1979**)

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might

destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God

and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may

purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again

with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his

eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

Collect of the Day  from Rev. William Flewelling (© 2017, William Flewelling; All rights reserved)

Matthew 25:1-13

 

Grant us, O God, preparedness of life and love

that in the hour of love’s demand

we may arise and know at hand

the hospitality of joy.

For in our longing we attend

the satisfying feast of your delight

in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 

Service of Table  

Offertory / Invitation to Give

All good things come from God, the giver of life. We are called as stewards of God’s gifts to share in fulfillment of God’s purposes for creation. As stewards of the kingdom of God, let us give from our abundance with thanksgiving.

 

Offertory Prayer

Generous God, our lives are renewed as we remember your goodness. You have made us in your image and placed in our hearts the memory of your love made flesh in Jesus Christ. That memory calls us to give and to embrace your world as we offer these gifts. May our lives invested through these offerings create a new reality and extend your grace in remembrance of Jesus, in whose name we pray.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Prayers for Bread and Cup)

(The following may be offered as one prayer, or broken between two Elders, if that is the tradition to be followed)

Giver of life, receive this offering of our praise as we break this bread and bless this cup. Send your Spirit forth to dwell within them and so within us as we receive them. Open us to the wonder of new life in your presence, as we renew our faith at this your Table. We give you thanks and praise in the name and spirit of Jesus the Christ.  

 

OR

Blessed are you, Lord our God; you bring forth bread from the earth, and wine in its season. Send your power and strength to us, Lord, as we gather here in love for you, and upon these gifts of bread and wine. Make them to be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we might be his true body, going about his work in our time and place; that in all things all glory might be given to you, Almighty God, now and forever.

 

Conclusion:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor be to you, O God, now and forever. Amen.

If not previously offered: “And now with the confidence of your children, we offer the prayer our Savior taught us, ‘Our Father…’

 

MORE…

Resources from the Jubilee Fund: This stewardship ministry serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers weekly emails for each Sunday’s service.  Visit http://www.thejubileefund.com/ to learn more.

Rev. Tim Graves offers Liturgy Bits with valuable, culturally sensitive and creatively contemplative works, well worth your time.

You may also want to visit Worship Connection at MinistryMatters.com, which offers numerous helps, including electronic versions of print resources for worship and preaching planning.

Intercessions and other helpful planning materials geared to the Lectionary (using Roman Catholic version, but normally quite useful for all traditions) for preaching and worship are supplied for several weeks in advance at The Sunday Website of St. Louis University. 

 

Common Worship Almanac and Lectionary for the year beginning Advent Sunday 2016.  Compiled by Simon Kershaw August 2016 from the Common Worship Calendar and Lectionaries using Almanac Maker; compilation © Simon Kershaw 2016; Almanac Maker © Simon Kershaw 2010.   The Revised Common Lectionary is copyright © the Consultation on Common Texts 1992.  The Daily Eucharistic Lectionary is adapted from the Ordo Lectionum Missae of the Roman Catholic Church reproduced by permission of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  Adaptations and additions to the RCL and the DEL, together with Second and Third Service lectionaries and the Weekday Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer are copyright © the Archbishops’ Council 1997-2010.   http://almanac.oremus.org/lectionary

 

Book of Common Prayer (1979), Public domain.

 

NOTE:  We hope you return to this posting often (and are subscribed to the feed by email, on Facebook or your favorite reader), since the content of each week’s posting may change several times before Sunday.  We’d also like to include your content, even after the fact, since everything will roll around again in 3 years, and your contributions may find new life in the great cycle of the lectionary.  Send your comments or content here.

 

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