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Archive for the ‘Year B’ Category

Advent 1B

 

Dec. 3

 

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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 64:1-9 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

119-O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

135 – Blessed be the God of Israel

538-Hope of the world

124-Let all mortal flesh keep silence

 

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 Isaiah 64:1-9

 

In this bold day we sing to you:

open the heavens: come to us!

For in this moment of desire

we would be kindled, roused to rise.

 

Although the ages wreak our sin

the lengthened passion and the din,

we long for your restoring touch,

the grace that renders angst to bliss.

 

Amid the strangeness of our world,

these strangled incapacities,

O Lord, we linger longingly

to find of life all hope unfurled.

 

As we remember once again,

attend your memory, O Lord,

and satisfy our rankest hope:

we are your people.  O! Behold!

 

LM      Suggested tune: Rushford

 

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.

 

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 80 is not in hymnal; see 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.

 

Words of Welcome

Today is God’s day of hope—hope for us, hope for all humanity.  The darkness that surrounds us will not overtake us, for God is light; and in God there is no darkness at all.  Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

 

Call to Worship  (from Psalm 80)

L: Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!

P: Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

L: Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.

P: Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

L: Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;

P: Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

 

OR

L: The Spirit and the church cry out:

P:  Come, Lord Jesus.

L: All who await Christ’s appearance pray:

P:  Come, Lord Jesus.

L: The whole creation pleads:

P:  Come, Lord Jesus!  Renew the whole creation!

 

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

Prepare your way within us, O God, as the new year of life in your Church unfolds.  Make of us a people ready to receive you, to learn from you, to receive your gifts, and to live out your calling in mission.  Prepare your way within us and fill us with hope, we pray, through the name of the Coming One, Jesus Christ our Lord  (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

OR

We come, O God, with adoration and praise, as well as thanksgiving, to you. Our anticipation grows as we begin the journey to the day of great celebration of the birth of your Christ. Open our hearts that we may truly receive the gift of your Son, and know that the joy of life with you. This we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…)

 

OR

We rejoice in you, O God our hope, for in Jesus Christ you enter our world to bring to life your new creation.  May our lives be remade by the glory of your appearing, and may we lift up the name of your Son in our worship, our work, and our leisure, for we pray in his name (as he taught us, saying…).

 

Confession of Sin  (adapted by the editor)

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, to be our advocate in heaven, and to bring us to eternal life.  Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all. (Common Worship)

Because we have seen pain without being moved, because we forget your love with solemn pride, because we pass by comfortably before poverty and sadness, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

For speaking of love without loving our sister or brother, for speaking of faith without living your word, for living as people who do not recognize our own sinfulness, Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

For our tranquility in our affluent life, for our great falsehood in preaching about poverty, for wanting to make excuse for injustice, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Hear the good news, people of God!  The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  He bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might be dead to sin and alive to God.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.  Glory to God.  Amen.

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

How strong your voice, O God. How it thunders across the lands, calling forth blossoms from parched earth and turning back waters from flooded ground. You stand at the world’s door and knock; who can withstand the sound of your voice?

 

How soft your voice, O God. How it murmurs in the morning, calling life forth from its bed and hastening the night to its own. You come to us, walking in the garden in the cool of the day; who can hide from the sound of your voice?

 

Tarry with us, O God. Let your word love our eyes into seeing all those around us. Let it love our ears into hearing the voices calling to us. Let it love our hands into healing with the gifts you have granted your children. Let our words be words of love as we pray for those who are in greatest need…

 

In these days of Advent, may our voices ring with joy, with peace and with hope. Wherever you send us, may we be diligent in following. For we are ever in search of your salvation, even as we continue to search for the child, the Christ, our Savior in whose name we sing for joy and offer our prayers.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Collect

 

Almighty God,

give us grace to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armour of light,

now in the time of this mortal life,

in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;

that on the last day,

when he shall come again in his glorious majesty

to judge the living and the dead,

we may rise to the life immortal;

through him who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Post Communion

 

O Lord our God,

make us watchful and keep us faithful

as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;

that, when he shall appear,

he may not find us sleeping in sin

but active in his service

and joyful in his praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Additional Collect

 

Almighty God,

as your kingdom dawns,

turn us from the darkness of sin

to the light of holiness,

that we may be ready to meet you

in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

 

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

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of

darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of

this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit

us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come

again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the

dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him 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)

Mark 13:24-37

 

In tribulation sheering us from hope, we come,

attending your lithe promise, O God.

We come to undertake the reign of bliss

and all the undertows of graciousness.

We come to find the image of your promise,

know ourselves prepared in love

to understand your ripe delight

in Jesus Christ.

 

Service of Table  

Offertory / Invitation to Give

God is at work in the world, renewing, remaking, resurrecting, bringing hope through the faith, the gifts, and the work of the church. We trust in God, and together we work for peace and justice through God’s Spirit as we offer our tithes and gifts. Let us rejoice in our God-given opportunity to share in God’s work.

 

OR

As God has seen our need and provided for us all things in the coming of Jesus into our world, let us look at the world in need around us, and realize that in Jesus we have all that is needed to meet the world with life, hope, and wholeness.

 

Offertory Prayer

Thank you, God of hope, 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.

 

OR

May these gifts indeed give light to those in darkness, hope to those in despair, and justice to the oppressed, as we bring them to you as an act of sharing your love with the world. Here the proud are brought low, and the poor and broken lifted up. May it be so in all your kingdom, we pray, as we dedicate ourselves to you. Amen.

 

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)

With hope and expectation, O God, we draw near to the Table which you have set with the fruits of righteousness and promise of life. Bless now this bread which we break that it may be for us Christ’s body, and this cup which we lift, that it may be his blood. Send now the power of your Holy Spirit upon these gifts and upon us as we receive them. Make your presence known among your people, we pray, and in all the world, as we look to the coming of Christ whose reign shall know no end.

 

OR  from William Flewelling, adapted

Lord God, in memory and in anticipation we draw near together, drawn in faith to the life and to the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

We are thankful, Lord God, for the opening of life for us in Jesus of Nazareth. Our Lord gave us his heart, his love that in him we too might be bold to give our hearts, our love. He opened wide his arms for us in blessing and in death, death on the cross. He breathes on us the gift of Holy Spirit.

 

He feeds us as he fed his own on broken bread, and on a cup of wine, the new covenant.

 

O Lord God, seal in us your covenant of love and grace; give in us your including Spirit; make of us one people. And, O Lord, Come now upon us  to fulfill in us your love and your beauty; in Jesus Christ our Coming Lord.

 

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.

 

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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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 

Process & Faith is a program of the Center for Process Studies, an affiliated program of the Claremont School of Theology. This site and all content ©2012 Process & Faith, unless otherwise noted.

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Dear Friends in the Church Universal,

We are truly blessed to have so many subscribers in the US and abroad.  It’s encouraging to know that what we bring to you weekly can be helpful in some way to shape the worship life of your congregation.

This project has been funded entirely by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia, and we have never actually asked for funds to support it, relying instead on funding for our Regional Church (diocese/area/conference/association…translate to your tradition’s language) to be adequate to cover the expenses of producing it.  It is, however, among those hard decisions each year for our budgetary planning, and we do want to keep it alive.

For those of you who are finding use in what we provide, we are offering you the opportunity to make a gift to assure that lifeinliturgy.org continues to be available.  Please consider mailing a gift to:  Christian Church in West Virginia, 1402 Washington Ave., Parkersburg, WV  26101 and simply marking the memo “Life in Liturgy,” or you may visit our secure donation page using Paypal or your credit card by clicking here.

We do appreciate your support and welcome your prayers as the cycles and seasons of life in liturgy continue to move the Church toward God’s praise and glory.

Blessings,

Rev. David T. Chafin, editor

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia

 

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Monday in Holy Week
Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Isaiah 42:1-9
Roman Catholic reading: Isaiah 42:1-7

Psalm 36:5-11
Roman Catholic reading: Psalm 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

who in your tender love towards the human race

sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ

to take upon him our flesh

and to suffer death upon the cross:

grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection;

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 Jesus Christ,

you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,

and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:

give us the mind to follow you

and to proclaim you as Lord and King,

to the glory of God the Father.

Alternative Collect

True and humble king,

hailed by the crowd as Messiah:

grant us the faith to know you and love you,

that we may be found beside you

on the way of the cross,

which is the path of glory.

Tuesday in Holy Week
Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Isaiah 49:1-7
Roman Catholic reading: Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 71:1-14
Roman Catholic reading: Psalm 71:1-6, 15, 17

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36
Roman Catholic reading: John 13:21-33, 36-38

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

who in your tender love towards the human race

sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ

to take upon him our flesh

and to suffer death upon the cross:

grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection;

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 Jesus Christ,

you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,

and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:

give us the mind to follow you

and to proclaim you as Lord and King,

to the glory of God the Father.

Alternative Collect

True and humble king,

hailed by the crowd as Messiah:

grant us the faith to know you and love you,

that we may be found beside you

on the way of the cross,

which is the path of glory.

Wednesday in Holy Week
Click on Scripture Lessons below for study links and resources for each individual pericope:

Isaiah 50:4-9

Psalm 70
Roman Catholic reading: Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34

Hebrews 12:1-3

John 13:21-32
Roman Catholic reading: Matthew 26:14-25

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

who in your tender love towards the human race

sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ

to take upon him our flesh

and to suffer death upon the cross:

grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection;

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 Jesus Christ,

you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,

and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:

give us the mind to follow you

and to proclaim you as Lord and King,

to the glory of God the Father.

Alternative Collect

True and humble king,

hailed by the crowd as Messiah:

grant us the faith to know you and love you,

that we may be found beside you

on the way of the cross,

which is the path of glory.

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Holy Thursday A

April 13

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

See earlier entries:

https://lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/holy-thursday-year-a/

https://lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/more-holy-thursday-april-5/

Liturgy for Maundy Thursday with Tenebrae (Mark)

Also See Year C:  Palm/Passion Sunday for Passion Story Worship Aids and Hymns

or Year A: https://lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/palmpassion-sunday-a/

 

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

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

Entrance Hymn: Any of the Palm Sunday processional hymns are appropriate, as are several of those from Advent-Christmas.  See especially 127, 140, 161-verse 1

Hymn of Invitation:  600, 194

Communion Hymn:   392

Dismissal:  This service traditionally ends without music (many churches silence the instruments  from this point until Easter Vigil)

 

The Oremus Hymnal offers many good choices for the lectionary (although this 2010 version will have incorrect calendar dates).  Not all are available in Chalice Hymnal, but some may be helpful in congregations where there is not a Chalice Hymnal available.  Visit the Oremus Hymnal.

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

 

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  

L: Come to the upper room,

P: where Christ shared his body and blood.

L: Come to Gethsemene,

P: where he prayed and was betrayed.

L: Come to the courts of justice,

P: where the Righteous One was found guilty.

L: Come to the hill outside Jerusalem,

P: where the innocent suffered and died.

L: Come, let us bow down in awe,

P: for what happened there was done for us.

 

Invocation or Prayer of Approach  

Eternal God of mercy, we gather in awesome wonder to behold your loving gift of Jesus Christ, who, coming to bring the world to wholeness, was broken by it.  Yet by his death we live and know your unbreakable love.  As we gather to remember Christ’s gift of fellowship at table, and to recall our frail failings of devotion, pierce our hearts with a conviction of our own betrayals, reassure us of your abiding presence and transform us by the Spirit of Christ our Lord  (who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”)

 

Confession of Sin

Forgive us, Lord, for forgetting your sacrifice and for thinking your grace is cheap.  Forgive us, Lord, for using the cross as a trinket, forgetting the agony it represents. Forgive us, Lord, for taking our worship for granted, forgetting the struggle that has assured its freedom.  Forgive us, Lord, for being calloused to human cruelty, forgetting that every victim is a creature of God.  Forgive us, Lord, for being nonchalant about injustice, forgetting that it still nails innocence to the cross.  Forgive us, Lord, for thinking that sacrifice is obsolete, forgetting that we still contend against the powers of darkness.  Receive our prayers offered in all humility, as we remember and honor Christ our Lord who prays for us still.  Amen.

 

Litany on Philippians 2

Let us remember Jesus:  Who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor and dwelt among us;

Who was content to be the child of a poor family;

Who lived the common life, earning his living with his own hands and declining no humble tasks;

Whom the common people heard gladly,

        for he understood their ways.

Let us remember Jesus:  Who was mighty in deed, healing the sick and afflicted, using for others the powers he would not invoke for himself;

Who was master and Lord to his disciples,

        yet was among them as their Companion

        and as one who served.

Let us remember Jesus:  Who loved people, yet retired from them to pray, rose a great while before day, watched through the night, stayed in the wilderness, went up into a mountain, sought out a garden;

Who prayed for his tempted disciple,

        and for the forgiveness of all who

        rejected him, and for the perfecting of those

        who received him;

Who observed good customs, but defied conventions that did not serve the purposes of God.   Who hated sin because he knew the cost of pride and selfishness, of cruelty and impurity—the cost to humanity and to God.

            May this mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus.

Let us remember Jesus:  Who, when he was reviled, did not retaliate, and when he suffered did not threaten; who emptied himself and carried obedience to the point of death, even death on the cross.

May this mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus.

Let us pray for Christ to dwell within our hearts.

            O Christ, our only Savior, so come to dwell in us that we may go forth with the light of your hope in            our eyes, and with your faith and love in our hearts.  Amen.

 

Pastoral Prayer – Prayers of the People – Intercessions

Loving God, you sent your Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  We pray that all who believe in him might be delivered from the power of sin and death, and become heirs with him of everlasting life.

Especially this day we pray for those within your community of faith who have offended you by our carelessness, and for those whose weaknesses have kept us from rightly serving you by serving our neighbors.

Forgive us our sins and free us for joyful obedience we pray in Christ.  Hear us, God of grace as we pray for a new birth for your church; for its unity in witness and service; for its ministers and all those whom they serve; and especially for those who are about to be baptized and begin new life in your Spirit.  Empower them to face temptation, suffering and even death with the boldness and zeal of true disciples.  Together may we bring to life the gifts you have given for the sake of the mission of your holy church as servant of a dying humanity, we pray in Christ.

We pray to you, gracious giver of life, for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind.  For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed.  For the sick and the wounded.  For those in loneliness, fear and anguish, doubt and despair.  For …

        God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

 

OR

With faith and love and in union with Christ, let us offer our prayer before the throne of grace.

Have mercy on your people, for whom your Son laid down his life: R

Bring healing and wholeness to people and nations, and have pity on those torn apart by division: R

Strengthen all who are persecuted for your name’s sake, and deliver them from evil: R

Look in mercy upon all who suffer, and hear those who cry out in pain and desolation: R

Bring comfort to the dying, and gladden their hearts with the vision of your glory: R

Give rest to the departed and bring them, with your saints, to glory everlasting: R

Let us commend the world, for which Christ died, 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

God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

 

Post Communion

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruit of your redemption, for you are alive and reign, now and for ever.

 

Alternative Collect

God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ was obedient to the end and drank the cup prepared for him: may we who share his table watch with him through the night of suffering and be faithful.

 

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

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he

suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:

Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in

remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy

mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives

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

and ever. Amen.

 

Sending Forth

1

Go forth in peace to walk the way of the cross and resurrection.

WE ARE SENT IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.

May Jesus Christ, who was put to death for our sins, bless you and keep you.

AMEN.

May Jesus Christ who was raised to life for our salvation let light shine upon you.

AMEN.

May Jesus Christ be your life and peace, now and forever.

AMEN.  THANKS BE TO GOD.

 

2

Go forth in confidence, for his chastisement is your peace, and by his stripes you are healed.

 

 

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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Ash Wednesday A

 

March 1

 

A SUGGESTED ORDER FOR THE SERVICE IS AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS ENTRY

 

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

 

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

 

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  

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.

 

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.

 

Alternative 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.

 

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.

 

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.   

       

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.

Ed. note: We regret that the layout of this blog does not allow for an easy means of communicating poetically, especially as witnessed in some of the prayers, and certainly in the parsing of this Psalm.

 

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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Epiphany Sunday

Baptism of Our Lord – A

 

Jan. 8

 

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

 

Note:  Prior Epiphany postings may be of help:  From 2013,  from 2012 and from 2011

 

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:

Epiphany Texts

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

 

Baptism of Jesus Texts

Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 29 Acts 10:34-43 Matthew 3:13-17

 

Suggested Hymns from Chalice Hymnal

97-Fairest Lord Jesus

171-God’s love made visible

173-As with gladness

172-We three kings

174-Brightest and best

151 The First Noel

426-The voice of Jesus calls his people

 

Baptism of Jesus:

177-What was your vow and vision

176-Sing of God made manifest

104-Of the Father’s love begotten

651-God who stretched the spangled heavens

183-We meet you, O Christ

365-Wash, O God, your sons and daughters

357-We call ourselves disciples

411-For the bread, which you have broken

 

The Oremus Hymnal offers many good choices for the lectionary (although this 2010 version will have incorrect calendar dates).  Not all are available in Chalice Hymnal, but some may be helpful in congregations where there is not a Chalice Hymnal available.  Visit the Oremus Hymnal.

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 3:13-17

 

That now we fulfill righteousness

does Jesus come to John.

Out by the Jordan’s open flow

comes Jesus to the wash.

 

At recognition John protests;

yet Jesus stays to know,

know how the water bathes the soul

and washes free delight.

 

In rising form the flashing tide

with water draining free,

the Lord by Sprit is addressed,

by dove that comes to rest.

 

And in this moment too sublime

the heavens roar in joy:

this is the son, beloved well,

and pleasing in God’s sight.

 

CM       Suggested tune: Wiltshire

 

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 29 Chalice Hymnal p. 737; also see Call to Worship below for Psalm 29 or Psalm 72

 

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 Psalm 72)

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.

 

OR  (adapted by the editor from Psalm 29)

L: Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

P:  Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

L: The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

P:  The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

L: May the LORD give strength to his people!

P:  May the LORD bless his people with peace!

 

OR

L: We gather in the name of the living Christ to worship God.

P: Surely, God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth.

L: God’s love is for you and for all people everywhere.

P: That we may share God’s love and life, may we be renewed in the refreshing Spirit of the living Christ.

L: The living Christ is with us.

P: Praise the Lord!

 

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…”)

 

OR

uMighty God, as your Spirit moving over the waters brought life from chaos in creation, the coming of Jesus Christ to this world has brought life to all who believe.  Receive the praise and love of we who seek to live as his disciples, following him into the waters of new life.  Give us now a fresh awareness of your presence here among us and in every place where Jesus walks today, for we pray in his name  (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  (from Oremus.org)

Lover of souls, you seal us by your Holy Spirit in baptism and claim us as your own forever: May our offering of beautiful worship be acceptable in your sight.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

Lover of souls, you sit enthroned as King for evermore: May the leaders of the nations do justice and govern with mercy.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

Lover of souls, you created the heavens and the earth: We praise you that you make holy such basic things of earth—water for baptism, grapes and grain to sustain our souls.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

Lover of souls, you forgive the sins of the penitent and care for the injured: Be with all victims of gun violence; heal and convert the hearts of the violent. May our city know peace.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

Lover of souls, your voice is a voice of splendor: speak healing and comfort to all the heartbroken and needy.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

Lover of souls, you called the light into being: Let light perpetual shine on those who have died. May we all rest in the hope of life eternal.

Lord, give strength to your people; bless us with peace.

God, your voice moves over the waters.  Immerse us in your grace, mark us with your image, and raise us to live our baptismal vows empowered by the Holy Spirit and the example of Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

 

Prayers from Common Worship*

Baptism of Christ

Collect Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; 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 of all time and eternity, you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son: by the power of your Spirit complete the heavenly work of our rebirth through the waters of the new creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Additional Collect Heavenly Father, at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son: may we recognize him as our Lord and know ourselves to be your beloved children; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

 

Epiphany Sunday

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**)

Epiphany

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.

 

Baptism of Our Lord

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River

Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him

with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his

Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly

confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy

Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

 

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

Matthew 3:13-17

 

Displaced to find the Baptist’s hand,

Lord Jesus, come to fill all righteousness.

Submit as we to hands that cleanse

and rise to find the Spirit bathe

the measure of this life,

that we in grace abandon all

unto your calling touch, O God.

 

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 we present our tithes and offerings.

 

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)

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 and cup, that in sharing them we may discern your presence which becomes our life.  Together, we celebrate Christ’s gifts, even as we bring our own, rejoicing in your presence, loving God, now and always.

 

OR

Gracious, life-giving God, as we who follow Jesus remember his baptism long ago, may our lives be renewed and our baptisms confirmed afresh. And as we gather at his Table, may we receive from your hands the gifts of earth and heaven. May this bread be for us his Body, and this cup his Blood, so that we who seek to live as his body in this world might be empowered by your Holy Spirit to follow him faithfully – from the water and into the world. 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

  1. Loving and life-giving Lord, in remembrance of all your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we take this bread and give you thanks and praise.  Pour out your Spirit upon us, that it may be for us the body of Christ, and that we, and all who share this feast, may be one with Christ and he with us.
  2. Fill us with eternal life, mighty God, as we receive the gift of this cup with hope and gratitude.  May it be for us Christ’s blood, refreshing our spirits, that with joy we may be your faithful people until we feast with him in glory.

 

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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