ORDER OF SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2020

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

 

Due to copywrite 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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.

~Helen Keller

BEFORE WE WORSHIP, WE REFLECT…

     This is the season we begin a new year in the life of the church and, as with our worship, we begin with a confession of our participation in the world’s suffering.

     Heavy hearts and burdened consciences will relate to Isaiah’s confession, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6). Then, just as the cold nights in the northern hemisphere reach their longest, Mark addresses us with promises that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man will include the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars. Hold on, there is hope!

     The promise of Advent is that God is always at work in the world, bringing new beginnings and a new creation to people and powers long bent on destruction. Yet, because we live in the generation that exists between the “already” of Christ’s resurrection and the “not yet” of God’s full restoration of the creation, we cannot know when that final day will arrive. Instead of becoming preoccupied with the end times, we are counseled to live our lives in a state of preparedness—trusting that our home is God’s home and that God is coming once again to dwell with us. That trust is the strength that sustains us as we “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).

LIGHTING THE ADVENT CANDLE OF HOPE

     If ever there was a year we needed Advent, this is the year. We hardly know how to describe the year we have lived through. We hesitate to reflect on all the mess around us in 2020. All we know is that nothing seems right, nothing seems like it used to be, nothing. We need Advent!

     The prophet Isaiah cried out for us, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down … To make your name known … so that nations might tremble at your presence.” So tear through the mess, O Lord, and come down to us again. We long to be your people, a people of hope.

     We light this first candle as a sign of our hope. Hope that you can meet us, even in the mess of our world. Hope that you still see us, though we feel we are lost in the rubble. Let this light be the guide that brings us to Emmanuel once more.

     O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

CALL TO WORSHIP

November ends. December begins.

We find our beginning and our ending in God.

Month after month, our God attends us and supports us.

For God’s company, we offer thanks and praise.

Let us worship the God who gives us Jesus Christ:

God who is the Alpha and the Omega,

the beginning and the end, the Living One and our Redeemer, now and forever.

CHILDREN’S SONG    The Advent Song (tune:  Twinkle, twinkle, little star)

Advent is a time to wait,              (hold hand up as you say “wait)

Not quite time to celebrate,         (shake head and wag finger from side to side)

Count the candles 1 by 1,            (put 4 fingers up, one at a time)

Until Advent time is done.           (wave hands, palms down)

Day by day we work and play,  (stack fist on top of fist, back and forth)

To prepare for Christmas day!   (put arms on shoulders and hug yourself)

                        blob:https://www.catholicicing.com/ed26ec88-7b1f-4781-94bf-3ea2f03b2cec

CENTERING PRAYER

Holy Light, God of faithful witnesses, please shine in our hearts with all the joys of your coming Son. May we be delivered from trusting the artificial lights of our generation, and from the ephemeral, decorative lights of this season.  Bring us into the open place where, dazed yet not afraid, we may praise you with wonder and adore you with profound joyfulness.  Through Jesus of Nazareth, our Christ and Saviour.  Amen! 

~ written by Bruce Prewer

A NEW CREED

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.

CHILDREN’S TIME

     Look what I have here…a Christmas present for me!  Oh, I can’t wait to open it!  I wonder what it could be?  It’s fairly heavy… And it makes a noise when I shake it!  I can’t wait!  I have to open it now!…Wait!  What’s this?  “Do not open until Christmas morning”?!!!!  Nooooooo!  Really?!  That’s a whole month away!  You mean I have to keep looking at this present, not being able to open it, for a WHOLE MONTH?!!  What am I going to do in the meantime until Christmas morning?  Good question!  Now, listen up for the answer….

      Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the start of a new year in the Church, the four weeks before Christmas.  Advent means “coming”.  We sang a song about it a few years ago.  “Advent means to wait, get ready, it’s coming.  Something special’s coming, don’t let down your guard!  Jesus as a baby, amazing, it happened.  Born inside a stable in someone’s back yard.”  Jesus is the best Christmas present EVER!!!!  You know what I find really interesting?  Jesus is the Christmas present we get every year.  We know what the present is before Christmas morning, and every year we get excited because Jesus is coming!  Very cool!  We also know that Jesus was human, was a child, had brothers and sisters; we know Jesus was part of God; that Jesus lived for us, died for us, forgave us everything, and was brought back to life by God.  We know that Jesus loves us more than words can say.  Advent.  Jesus is coming!  What do we do?  We get ready.  We can clean the house, decorate, bake Christmas cookies, buy and wrap gifts…AND…we can pray to Jesus to help us forgive others, help us ask for forgiveness from others; do acts of kindness for our family and neighbours; we can look for Jesus in everyone.  We can ask Jesus to help us be less angry and more loving, help us be less rushed and more patient, help us to speak less and listen more.  That is how we prepare for Jesus, our Christmas present, so that when Christmas day finally arrives, we are listening with our hearts as well as our ears,  we are thinking of others and not just ourselves, we are wanting to be as loving as we can, so that the love of Jesus is shared around the world. 

     It is a lot of work, preparing for the best Christmas present EVER!  AND…it is so worth it!

MISSION AND SERVICE

GROWING AT CAMP GOLDEN LAKE

     Our gifts for Mission & Service make United Church camps places where many lives are transformed.  Let us hear from Amy, a young adult leader at Golden Lake Camp in the Upper Ottawa Valley.

     This year will be my second as Program Director for Gold Lake Camp and my fourth year in total.  I started my GLC journey as a volunteer, spending two and a half weeks there my first summer.

     I could go into lots of detail about all the amazing things I experienced – the equally amazing staff and campers I met, the personal and spiritual growth I went through, and the deeper connection with God I fostered – but I don’t think you want to hear an essay-length story!  In short, by the end of my time volunteering I had been having so much fun that I didn’t even remember to cash my honorarium cheque.  The Executive Director (the one-and-only lovely Beth Payson) told me the following summer when I applied for a permanent position how I had kind of messed up the budget that year by not cashing it…whoops!

     Working at GLC literally (and I don’t use that word lightly) made my life better, and I’ve met some lifelong friends there.  The atmosphere and love in this place are infectious, and you truly make a noticeable difference in children’s lives.

     If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much!  If you have not given, please join with me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith.  Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

Your love, O Lord, is a fire. Send your Holy Spirit to blow over the embers of your love set in the firebox of human words, song, and holy scripture so that your love may burn brightly in our hearts, fill our lives with the warmth of your life, and give light to all. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

This lament comes from a people who have had their hopes shattered. The visions of a rebuilt Jerusalem and a renewed people of God, spoken of in Isaiah 40–55, have not been realized. Instead, the people experience ruin, conflict, and famine. This lament calls God to account—to be the God who has brought deliverance in the past.

1O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
     2as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to       your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you,
  who works for those who wait for him.
5You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.  But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.  We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
      7There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever.  Now consider, we are all your people.

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

R:  Let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. (Ps. 80:7)

1Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
  shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
  stir up your strength and come to help us.
3Restore us, O God; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
4O Lord God of hosts, how long will your anger fume when your people pray? R
5You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6You have made us the derision of our neighbors, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
17Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
  the one you have made so strong for yourself. R
18And so will we never turn away from you; give us life, that we may call upon your name.
19Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. R

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

As the Christians in Corinth await the advent of Jesus, Paul reminds them how the Lord has already enriched them through spiritual gifts and will continue to strengthen them until the coming day of the Lord.

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel: Mark 13:24-37

In today’s reading, Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering.

[Jesus said:] 24“In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,

  and the moon will not give its light,

25and the stars will be falling from heaven,

  and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
  28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
  32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

SERMON

This is the last Sunday in the church year. Today, the Church looks toward the future – to the end of the age.  On this Sunday, the Christian Church talks about preparation – about being ready for the return of Jesus.

There is much in scripture concerning being ready for the return of Christ. Jesus took the time to prepare his followers. Jesus provided them with details about what conditions would be like when he returned. He talked to them about the signs of the end of the age and warned them about the challenges that believers would face as the end of the age approached.

There are few topics for which there exists such confusing and contradicting information as those matters concerning the end-time. The popular “Left Behind” book series engages in a great deal of speculation concerning this topic. What will happen to airplanes piloted by believers who are raptured’ out of the cockpit? What will happen on the expressways to cars that suddenly find themselves without drivers because the Lord has raptured them from the earth?   Perhaps one of the scariest thoughts that can come to us is, “When Christ returns, will he find me faithful?”  There is, and has been, rampant speculation about these sorts of things for centuries.

Today we will examine a couple of the common misconceptions regarding end-time matters. The first big misconception we need to clarify is the desire to set a date for Christ’s return. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus warned his followers, “No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don’t know. Only the Father knows.” The Scriptures are abundantly clear that only God knows when that is to be. Not even Jesus, in his humanity, claimed to have that knowledge. Yet many have attempted to set a date and lead others into believing and accepting their view.

In the book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, which was very popular when it was first published in 1970, a modern-day date-setter predicted that Jesus would return by 1988. The story continues today of people that claim to have a special revelation about when the end of the world will come.

Did Jesus actually encourage date-setting? Absolutely not! Jesus encouraged readiness. In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells a story of the owner of a house going on a trip and leaving the servants in charge. Jesus says that the servants need to be ready for the return of Christ because we do not know the day or hour when he will come back. Jesus encouraged being watchful. He encouraged us to tend to our faith so that we could look forward to Jesus’ coming with joy and anticipation rather than with dread. The last sentence of our reading states, “I’m telling everyone what I’m telling you: ‘Be alert!’”

A second misconception commonly made as people look to the end of time is an attitude toward the return of Christ that is just as unhealthy as date-setting – indifference. That we have an appointment to meet Christ at some moment in our future is a reality that should escape no one.  What does Jesus state regarding his return? Simply – WAKE UP!  Be ready! Be alert! Know that Jesus is returning and live in his forgiveness and grace. Know that the Cross was about making us ready to stand before Jesus. Know that God draws close to keep our hearts ready for that great and awesome day that is coming. Know that God has more at stake in us being ready for the end of time than we have.

Have you noticed in the recent past that the world is in a mess?  Have you noticed how the media preys upon this reality and plays with it to increase our paranoia and fear?  Have you noticed how it is working?

A third misconception commonly made by those who read these apocalyptic words of Jesus is that we are to live with paranoia and fear.

As we examine the text and human history, the century, millennia, form of media and the weapons may have changed, but the messed-up state of the world has not.  Jesus gives us the message to stay alert NOT to make us paranoid, but to actually free us up to live!!! 

At its core, Advent is another chance for us to get it right. Advent gives us four weeks to get our act together. It is a season of preparation, a time to make ready, a time to clean out our hearts, minds and souls to receive Christ in the flesh. We are to make ourselves into empty vessels, ready to receive what is revealed. Don’t get me wrong we need to write our Christmas cards and purchase gifts for our loved ones.  Thinking of others and preparing our hearts, minds and attitudes for Christ is an essential piece to the Advent experience.  We need light and joy in our lives this time of year.  AND…

I believe that in order to know Advent, we must make ourselves aware that the word “apocalypse” means “to reveal”. Popular culture has taught us to equate “apocalypse” with destruction, but you and I must understand what the word was originally meant to convey: clarification, enlightenment.  Education takes two.  There is the one who reveals, and the one who opens up to receive what is revealed. This is why Isaiah equates our iniquity with God being “hidden” from us.  This is why Mark is telling us to “keep alert, keep awake.”  You and I ought to proceed through Advent as if St. Nicholas weren’t the only supernatural presence coming to town. We should expect Jesus to show up unannounced on our doorsteps. We must expect the wise counselor to pop in tonight for dinner, or tomorrow for breakfast, or perhaps next week for tea, to show us our spiritual progress reports, and to chat about them. 

Those realities of life over which we have some control, strive to be as prepared as you can be and then you do not have to live in a state of worry or fear.  Those realities of life over which we have no control, hand them over to God and carry on doing the work of the realm of God where you live and with those you meet so that they, too, can live without worry and fear.  Jesus did not come and give us these words to make us paranoid and fearful.  Jesus gave us these words so that we can live in the moment, prepared, and look forward with joy to when he returns. 

WAKE UP!  Get yourself prepared and then go and celebrate the coming of Christ child.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH  MV #127  I Saw The Rich Ones

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

God of power and might, tear open the heavens and come quickly to this weary world. Hear our prayers for everyone in need.

We pray for the ministry we share in Christ’s name. Open our hearts to your call for justice, peace, and healing. Attune us to the needs of the world as you draw near. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We pray for this planet in need of restoration: for devastated habitats, polluted waters, thawing ice, blazing fires, swelling floods, and long-lasting droughts. Renew the face of the earth and our relationship to it. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We pray for all people who care for others in our community and around the world. Fill them with compassion and the power to respond with justice for those who are oppressed, with welcome for those who are excluded, and with relief for those who suffer. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We pray for people who are in crisis as the seasons change: for those without homes facing severe weather, for those who are unemployed or underemployed, and for those in poverty or facing food insecurity.  Relieve their burdens, sustain their bodies, and ease their minds. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We pray for those in our families, congregations and communities who live with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, addiction and other invisible illnesses. Where people feel pain in body, mind or spirit; where someone grieves the loss of a beloved or the future they planned; in places where the pandemic has done its worst and desperation has moved in; for our family, friends and community members who are close to our hearts:  Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn & Douglas; Gordon Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange. Ease their suffering and support them when they struggle. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

We give thanks for the lives and witness of those who died while waiting for justice, peace, or healing, those whose names we know and those whose names are known only to you. Sustain all who still yearn for the completion of your redeeming work. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Draw near to us, O God, and receive our prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

BENEDICTION

The Creator of the stars bless your Advent waiting, the long-expected Savior fill you with love, the unexpected Spirit guide your journey, ☩ now and forever.

Amen.

SENDING SONG  WOV #633  Awake, Awake, And Greet The New Morn

 

 

 

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