Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.

Parts of this service are taken from a service for The Hanging Of The Greens by Rev. Andy O’Neil, St. Paul’s United Church in Riverview, NB


You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.

~Michelle Obama


Although the historical record is sketchy, it appears that our Advent arose out of a season of fasting to prepare for baptisms at Epiphany. By the sixth century, an eschatological emphasis was present. Our Advent comprises the four Sundays before Christmas. Each year, the first Sunday deals with our readiness for divine judgment, the second Sunday the ministry of John the Baptist, the third Sunday the Baptist’s call to a repentant life, and only on the fourth Sunday a narrative concerning the birth of Jesus. God comes, in the past in the history of Israel and the incarnation of Jesus, in the present in the word and sacrament of each Sunday and in the sufferings of our time, and in the future at the end of all things. The lectionary appoints readings to fit this pattern, and its tone stands in stark contrast to our society’s weeks of preparation for Christmas. Liturgical advice to keep a meaningful Advent without a December-long celebration of Christmas is meant not to be a kill-joy, but to awake our longing for the surprising ways that God comes to us. We mean to be a people who are know what time it is and are willing to wait for what will come—a people who do not sing Easter hymns during Lent nor Christmas hymns in Advent.


We have endured these past few years and know that there is more to face before us. We don’t know if we have the strength to withstand what might be around the next corner. And we wonder who will stand with us, who will have our back, who will occupy our corner.

Who is with us? That is what we begin to wonder these days. Who will light our way and chart our course? Who is on our side, who will welcome us home again?

Home. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of a branch that will be raised. Jesus spoke of a Son of Man that will descend. Both point to a hope. A hope that calls us home. Our true home, where we’re welcomed and loved and included. Where there is justice and equality and peace. It’s time, this Advent season, time to go home.

We light this candle, as a sign of our hope, our strong hope that there is a way to go home. To the home in Christ, and it starts with us, and it starts here, and it starts now. It’s time to go home.

Light the first candle on the Advent wreath


CALL TO WORSHIP  – written by Roddy Hamilton

Across the universe creation waits for the prophets to speak their words of expectation and their vision of renewal.

May we gather round them today once more and let their longing grip us and lead us into birth and blessing.

So come now, my friends, this is the meeting place of promise and prophecy.

Let us listen through the ancient words that we might be ready to hear a baby’s cry

CHILDREN’S SONG  WOV 649  I Want To Walk As A Child Of The Light


Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.  We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking your light. Guide us with your love.  Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


     If you take a look at the pulpit, lectern and altar in the sanctuary, you will notice that the cloths that hang from them are blue in colour.  Why are they blue?

     Today is the first Sunday in the Church year, the first Sunday in the season of Advent.  The four weeks before Christmas.

     Advent means “coming or arrival,” and the reason for the season is the excitement of waiting and preparing for the birth of baby Jesus!  Hundreds of years ago, the colour for Advent was purple.  Purple was also the colour for Lent, the 40 days before Jesus was crucified on the cross and then raised by God on Easter Sunday.  Lent was a serious time when people looked at their lives and how they were living.  They talked with God and prayed for guidance and strength and they tried to live as Jesus wanted them to live, with lots of love, kindness and forgiveness.

     Advent is a happier time, although we are still encouraged to pray for guidance and live as Jesus wants us to live. 

     The Church didn’t want people to be confused, so they changed the colour for Advent from purple to blue.  Some churches still use the colour purple, which is just fine.  The important part of Advent to remember is that Jesus is coming, and we need to get, not just our homes, but also our hearts and thoughts ready for the baby Jesus.

     And so we begin…




Give the ultimate gift—the gift of life.

     For many of us these days, hope comes in a syringe, and Giving Tuesday on November 30―just around the corner from Hope Sunday―is a good time to share it. The COVID-19 crisis won’t end for anyone until it ends for everyone. And in some parts of the world, no end is in sight.

     Our Mission & Service partner ACT Alliance reports that out of all the vaccines administered around the world, less than 2 percent reached Africa and less than 7 percent reached South America. Many countries in the Global South and East won’t even be able to start a vaccine program until 2022. If this continues, these countries won’t reach vaccination goals until 2024…if ever.

     Your gifts through Mission & Service continue to contribute food and relief items to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the distribution of personal protective equipment, and supporting programs to prevent and control the spread of the disease. Through the United Church’s Gifts with Vision, we are offering an opportunity to give the ultimate gift―the gift of life. For just $25, you can save a life by providing a full vaccination to someone in the world who needs one.

     Together we can make a difference. If you are planning to make a special charitable gift this Giving Tuesday, please consider offering the gift of full vaccination. And thank you for faithfully giving through Mission & Service. Your ongoing support truly does help save lives.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION written by Rev. Andy James

Speak to us, Lord.  Speak to us in the waiting, the watching, the hoping, the longing, the sorrow, the sighing, the rejoicing.  Speak to us by your Word in these Advent days, and walk with us until the day of your coming. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

In the Old Testament, “righteousness” often has to do with being faithful in relationship. God acts righteously both in punishing Israel for its sin and in having mercy. In today’s reading, Jerusalem’s future name—“The Lord is our righteousness”—proclaims that God is even now working salvation for Israel.

14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 25:1-10

R:  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. (Ps. 25:1)

1To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame; rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. R

5Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting. R

7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord. 

8You are gracious and upright, O Lord; therefore you teach sinners in your way.

9You lead the lowly in justice and teach the lowly your way.

10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies. R

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Upon Timothy’s report from the congregation at Thessalonica, Paul is exuberant with gratitude for them. In this passage from his letter, Paul voices overflowing thanks, joy, and blessings for the people of this growing church.

9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

  11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36

God will fulfill God’s purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.

 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

   29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

  34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”


King Lear, Act II, scene iii, lines 63-85

Fool: …thou hadst been set i’ th’ stocks for that question, thou’dst well deserved it.

Kent: Why, Fool?

Fool: We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no laboring i’ th’ winter.  All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there’s not a nose among twenty but can smell him that’s stinking.  Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following.  But the great one that goes upward, let him draw thee after.  When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again.  I would have none but knaves follow it since a fool gives it. 

That sir, which serves and seeks for gain,

And follows but for form,

Will pack, when it begins to rain,

And leave thee in the storm.

But I will tarry; the Fool will stay,

And let the wise man fly.

The knave turns Fool that runs away,

The Fool no knave, perdy.

Kent: Where learned you this, Fool?

Fool: Not i’ th’ stocks, fool.


When I began to ponder what words of the Good News I would say to you this morning, this quotation from Shakespeare’s King Lear popped into my mind.  And once it popped in there, it refused to leave.  I was left to ask myself, “How is this quotation connected to preaching the good news from this Lukan text of seeming gloom and doom?”  True, the quotation refers to the decay of King Lear’s army, wealth, and mental state due to his lack of preparation and trust in the wrong people, yet the more I reflected on these words, the more the ministry of Jesus focused itself in my mind. 

Today we begin the Advent season.  We begin preparing to receive the Christ Child.  We also begin to prepare for Christ’s second coming.  Part of that preparation is to take seriously the state of our spiritual health.  How is our relationship with Jesus?  How is our spiritual fortitude?  These words of Jesus in Luke encourage us to stand strong in our faith. 

The ministry of Jesus has been paramount in my life.  Jesus is the role model to whom I look when I need answers to tough questions or guidance in tough situations.  I began to think about how I prepare a worship service as well as a sermon, and that, in turn, connected me with the words of Shakespeare, this Lukan text and the ministry of Jesus.


Jesus was a person who took risks, who didn’t care about the opinions of others.  He was on this earth to do the work of God, and he did it.  He boldly loved those whom the world rejected.  He ate with outcasts, touched the ritually unclean, even spitting on a blind man’s eyes.  He filled people with hope, love, and empowered them to follow God and serve each other.  He had harsh words for those who needed them, and a gentle touch for those who needed compassion, healing and blessing.  Jesus walked with the commoners, ate lunch with prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, and other outcasts.  Specifically, Jesus CHOSE to be with these people.  He walked among the poor, the oppressed, the diseased, by choice.  He picked disciples who were not the strongest in terms of ministry skills, but strong in their passion for God.  This Jesus has been my role model as far back as my earliest memory upon hearing the Good News.

When preparing a sermon, I ask myself, “To whom am I proclaiming this message?”  True, I am proclaiming the good news to those of you in the pews.  However, I am out in cyberspace now on YouTube.  Yes, that can be a scary thought!  I would like to believe that more than just the homebound are tuning in.  I would like to hope that there are people checking out YouTube on their cell phones who are prompted by the Spirit to check out the video.  Perhaps former classmates of mine from high school are curious and are tuning in.  Maybe someone who is feeling lost and alone and looking for a word from God takes a chance and hits “play”.

And so it is that all the lessons are read, and I pray that the Living Word will reach just one.  So it is that the musicians and I, choosing music that is sometimes more contemporary, leads me to pray that the melody catches the ear of just one lost youth to the Good News. So it is that I pray the prayers I do that if someone checks out the video, someone who struggles with life’s tough questions and periods of despair, they will know that Christ hears, is with them and will help them deal with their pain, sometimes in ways that surprise as well as frustrate.

I would like to believe that the God-inspired words that are spoken by me are not forgotten as you walk out the door, rather, that words of love, repentance, forgiveness, hope and eternal life are heard with the heart and passed on.  I pray that those, like the Fool in King Lear, who have learned wisdom from the street and the school of hard knocks, will share their wisdom, as well as their faith, with others.   I would like to believe that there are those individuals who have been inspired by the Good News proclaimed in this sanctuary, and on the web, to be little Christ’s in the world.  That they walk the path of Jesus in loving and breaking bread with the outcasts of society, giving blessing and healing with hands that are not afraid to touch the grime of life, that they will be great in their faith and draw others up in their strength for God.  That they will not desert God’s people when the crunch comes, but like fools for Christ stand in solidarity with the marginalized.

This is how we prepare for Christ’s birth and Christ’s second coming.  There is too much to do to stand looking at the skies, worrying, and wondering when the Son of God is going to show up.  A large part of our preparation is to help prepare others.

When people are accepted just as they are; when people are loved without condition; when one chooses to sit with the outcasts and break bread; when one embraces those whom others shun, those people’s lives can, and have, changed for the better.  For in the one who is willing to live the ministry of Christ, not just with words but with action, people see Christ.   Not only that, they learn to extend the same grace to others.

Where learned I this?  Not in the stocks.

May God, through the instrument of the internet, YouTube, and all of you, call others to serve the people of God in all walks of life.  Amen.


HYMN OF THE MONTH  MV 126  Are You A Shepherd?


In the midst of our busy lives and preparations, O God, you come to us in the child of promise and surprising joy.  With hope, we await the coming of your kingdom, when your love will fill the world.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

We thank you for the beauty of winter, of gentle snow cloaking trees and land with life-giving moisture.  We wonder at the infinite glory of your creation and know you by the works of your hand.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

We thank you for all the gifts we enjoy as part of our holiday preparations, especially the company and love of family and friends.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

We thank you for the love and joy that fill our hearts at this time of year.  May we also be filled with your spirit, compassion, and vision, that your loving kindness will be known through all our thoughts, words, and actions.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

We remember those for whom this season will be difficult, even painful:

those who grieve lost loved ones – we pray for the families of David Buhler & Carolyn Lighthart, relationships that have been broken, health issues that fracture peace – Pastor Norris Nordin, Dwayne, Tracy Skoglund, Kathryn Schmidt, Brooke Alexiuk, Mike Froese, those without enough to eat or a safe place to live.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

Help us to be present to those who feel alone, to share with those in need, to offer our time and attention to those who are anxious, to seek the strengthening of the lives and communities around us.

God of hope,

We look toward your light.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus, the One who comes, who taught us to pray, saying…


SENDING SONG  VU 5  All Earth Is Waiting   


Joy is now in every place, the light of promise shines on every wall and window and door.  So does that same light shine in each and every heart gathered here.  Let us go into God’s world to share that same light, + the light of the One who comes.  Amen.


Go in peace. Christ is near.

Thanks be to God.




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