Our Shepherd in Heaven: A Liturgy

To be read in one of two ways: bold print read by the congregation, light print by a reader; or as an antiphonal reading, with one half of the congregation reading Psalm 23, and the other reading the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven,
The LORD is my shepherd,
Hallowed be your name,
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me, all the days of my life.
Give us today our daily bread.
I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever.
I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Amen.

Sowing and Reaping: A Liturgy

Galatians 6:7-9 

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:7-8 

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction

 

Lord, we have indeed reaped destruction.

We have sought to please our sinful natures.

We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed,

by what we have done and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole hearts;

we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

have mercy on us and forgive us;

that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.

LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY, LORD HAVE MERCY ON US

 

Galatians 6:8

those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open,

all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.

LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY, LORD HAVE MERCY ON US

 

Galatians 6:9 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Father, we are so very weary.

There is so much to do.

We confess that we have been caught up in the false goals of this world.

We confess that we have been sidetracked from the work you have set for us.

We have turned aside to other pursuits that are not of you.

Draw our hearts back to you.

Awaken our mouths to your praise.

Awaken our ears to your words.

Awaken our eyes to your presence.

Awaken our hearts to your love.

Awaken our minds to your wisdom.

Awaken our feet to your path.

Awaken our hands to your work.

In your mercy, do not let us become weary in doing good

LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY, LORD HAVE MERCY ON US

 

Luke 8:11-15 

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

 

Lord, prepare us.

Till us, turn our soil. Remove rocks, pull weeds, clear thorns.

Feed us with your righteousness, that we might be righteous.

Give us the water of life, that we might live.

In your mercy, may your words fall upon us

may they put down roots, may they send up leaves, may they produce fruit – that in turn produces fruit.

Fill us with the power of your Spirit, that we might persevere.

Fill us with the light of your presence, that we might grow.

We want to persevere, to serve you, to produce a crop,

but it is your word that will grow – your word that will spring up from the ground

your word that will produce fruit.

We surrender to you our hopes and dreams.

We surrender to you our plans and desires.

We surrender to you our families, our friends, our work

Lord, sow your seed in our lives

Reach your hands into the soil of our lives and make that seed grow

Grant us the opportunity to see the fruit of your word.

LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY, LORD HAVE MERCY ON US

 

Isaiah 55:10-11 

God says to Israel, to us: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. The word that goes out from God’s mouth: will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it.

AMEN

Advent Readings, 2012

 

 

This year our church is moving through John 1:1-18 for the four weeks of Advent and for our Christmas Eve service. We will be exploring the themes of creation, light, home, glory, and becoming. Each service will begin with a full reading of John 1:1-18, and before the sermon we will use the following readings as we light our Advent candle – followed by the singing of O Come O Come Emmanuel (without the chorus – until we get to Christmas Eve, at which time it will be sung raucously and with great joy several times over!).

 

First Week of Advent, December 2: Creation

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of your life: within us, within your world. We light this candle in the knowledge that without you, there is nothing. You are our life.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful for your life. We see you everywhere we look: in the beauty you have created, in the relationships you have given us, and in the many blessings we have received from your hand. But we do not live in the fullness of your life. We turn back, time and time again, toward our own sin—toward death. The world you created is mired in oppression, injustice, pain, and death—and sometimes we wonder where you are. You were there at the beginning. You are here now, even in the midst of our darkness. Living God, we long for you to come again and bring the fullness of your life. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Congregation Sings: verse one only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

 

 

Second Week of Advent, December 9: Light

John 1:4-8

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of your light: within us, within your world. We light this candle in the knowledge that without you, there is only darkness. You are our light.

 Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful for your light. We see it in the eyes of our children, in the kindness that we are shown, and in the many blessings we have received from your hand. But we do not live in the fullness of your light. Too often we shade our eyes and turn away toward the overwhelming darkness: toward famine, and sickness, and war. But you said “Let there be light“—and the darkness was shot through with the glory of your presence. Bright Morning Star, come again into our darkness and declare the night over, and day begun… Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Congregation Sings: verse one and two only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

 

 

Third Week of Advent, December 16: Home

John 1:9-13

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of your home: within us, within your world. We light this candle in the knowledge that without you we have no home. You are our home.

 Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful that you have made your home with us. We find you at home in our conversations, in our actions, and in our thoughts. But we do not always feel at home with you. We do not always recognize you. In the midst of strife and conflict, in the middle of illness and pain, we often don`t see you for who you are. But you have come, and you are coming. You have made us your family, and we long for you to come and live with us again—to sit at our table… Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Congregation Sings: verse one, two, and three only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

 

 

 

Fourth Week of Advent, December 23: Glory

John 1:14-18

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of your glory: within us, within your world. We light this candle in the knowledge that without you there is no grace or truth. You are our grace and truth.

 Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful that you have revealed your glory to us. We see it in the words you have left for us to follow, in the friendships you have granted us, and each time another person turns to you. But we do not always live according to your glory. Sometimes we look around us and we sink into despair. We are defeated by the suffering and delusion all around us. But you have already won the victory. We long to see your victory brought to completion. Lion of Judah, come quickly to shatter our despair with your grace and truth… Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Congregation Sings: verse one, two, three, and four only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

 

 

Christmas: Becoming

John 1:1–18

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

 

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of our faith in you. We light this candle in the knowledge that without you there is no faith. You are our faith.

 Prayer: Dear Lord, we have waited so long. And still we wait. But on this day, on this night we shout into the darkness and declare the victory of your light. For you have come. And by coming you have made us into something more than simply a people waiting in darkness. You have given us your life. You have given us your light. You have made your home with us. You have revealed to us your glory. You have made, and you are making us. You put on human flesh like a robe—wore our fragility like a cloak about you. But more than that. You are fully human. Vulnerable. Weak. But more than that. You are fully God. Powerful. Victorious. Holy God. Lamb of God. Jesus. Thank you… Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Congregation Sings: all verses of  “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” followed by several repetitions of the chorus.

Happy Pentecost!

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Andrew is preaching on “The Road to Emmaus” rather than on Pentecost this week (finishing up his series on “Eating With Jesus,” check it out at BACC). Since the road to Emmaus is all about the revelation of Christ in and through us, I thought it would be appropriate to use “Spirit of Faith, Come Down,” a hymn written by Charles Wesley, for our call to worship and our benediction. 
 
We’ll read the first two verses as our call to worship, while we light multiple candles on our table – to symbolize the tongues of flame that descended upon the disciples. The final two verses will be our benediction.
 

Spirit of Faith, Come Down

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Sacred Harp
Tune: BEALOTH, Meter: SMD


1.  Spirit of faith, come down,

reveal the things of God,

and make to us the Godhead known,

and witness with the blood.

‘Tis thine the blood to apply

and give us eyes to see,

who did for every sinner die

hath surely died for me.

2. No one can truly say

that Jesus is the Lord,

unless thou take the veil away

and breathe the living Word.

Then, only then, we feel

our interest in his blood,

and cry with joy unspeakable,

“Thou art my Lord, my God!”

3.  O that the world might know

the all atoning Lamb!

Spirit of faith, descend and show

the virtue of his name;

the grace which all may find,

the saving power, impart,

and testify to humankind,

and speak in every heart.

4. Inspire the living faith

(which whosoe’er receive,

the witness in themselves they have

and consciously believe),

the faith that conquers all,

and doth the mountain move,

and saves whoe’er on Jesus call,

and perfects them in love.

Good Friday: From Light to Darkness – a Liturgy

Call to Worship: Today we walk with Jesus to Golgotha. We remember the pain that he suffered. We remember the triumph of his death – that didn’t look much like triumph to anyone. And today we remember what it really means to say we are “taking up our cross” and “following Jesus.”

We are going to move together, as we did during Lent, through the words Jesus spoke as he hung on the cross – and we are going to move together through the last hours of Jesus, and with him into the tomb. As we move through each phrase that Jesus spoke from the cross, we will blow out one of our Lenten candles – and we will have a short time of silence. After the seventh word, I will ask you all to blow out your candles, and we will share a longer moment of silence in relative darkness.

Come, let us worship together.

*Opening Song: O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus – vs 1, 2, 3

Reader 1: Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

Reader 2: John 18:28-19:18

 

Reader 3: Luke 23:32-34

Reader 1: You forgave even those who took your hands and feet and drove nails into solid wood. Who, straining, lifted up the cross that held you and dropped it into place. You have forgiven them. When we ask for mercy, we are amazed to find that it has already been extended. You have forgiven us.

1st Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: What Wondrous Love Is This – vs1, vs2

 

Reader 3: Luke 23:35-43

Reader 1: In your darkest hour, you turned to reassure the man beside you – a stranger. You extended eternity to him, even as you died. When we suffer, we find your hand extended to us – we find strength in the life you give us.

2nd Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: O Sacred Head Now Wounded – vs. 1, 2

 

Reader 2: John 19:19-24

Reader 3: John 19:25-27

Reader 1: You turned, in your suffering, to care for those who cared for you. You turned those you loved toward each other, and asked them to give each other the status of family. You have called us your sisters, your brothers.

3rd Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: O Sacred Head Now Wounded – vs. 3

 

Reader 3: John 19:28-29

Reader 1: You were fully human – thirsty as you hung there, in the hot sun. You felt the urgent need of a parched throat and a dry tongue. You have quenched our thirst with your living water.

4th Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: You Are My King – vs, ch, vs

 

Reader 3: Mark 15:33-34

Reader 1: You were abandoned by God, alone in your suffering. You withstood what we could not, and promised to never leave or forsake us.

5th Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – vs1

 

Reader 3: John 19:30

Reader 1: You finished the work you came into the world to complete, at great cost to yourself. At great cost to yourself, you completed, and will complete, the world in which you came to work. At great cost you have completed and will complete your work in us.

6th Candle blown out – short Silence

*Congregational Response: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – vs2, 3

 

Reader 3: Luke 23: 44-46

Reader 1: After all. After everything. After the pain, the rejection, the sorrow – you entrusted your spirit to your heavenly father. Although you felt the forsakenness of sin in its fullest, you trusted your father. Now you entrust us to your heavenly Father – sitting at his right hand, and interceding for us. The curtain was torn, our separation from God is ended – in this moment. May we trust. May we learn, in the darkness, the extent of your faithfulness. May we entrust ourselves to you.

In a moment, as I blow out the seventh candle, I will ask you, also, to extinguish the light on your table. We will take a moment together to grieve, and to feel the weight of Christ’s sacrifice, of the Father’s sacrifice. As we sit in silence, and as we sit in the dark, we will also fill our hearts with stillness, as we seek to understand the cross – and as we seek to take up our own cross.

Lord Jesus, we ask that you would teach us to understand this great and terrible mystery. Please accept now our silent worship.

7th Candle blown out – Long Silence

*Congregational Response: Beneath the Cross of Jesus – vs1, 2, 1

Reader 2: John 19:31-42

Benediction: And so we wait. Through the night, through the long, silent Saturday in the tomb. The battle is already won. Jesus has already declared his work finished – but we wait. We wait for the glimmer of dawn in the darkness. For the sliver of hope that lightens despair. We wait for the empty tomb. We wait for Christ to return.

In a moment, we are going to share a meal together. Communion, as it was first celebrated, was the sharing of a meal. Jesus did not sit with his disciples the night of his betrayal and offer them only a bite of bread and a sip of wine – he sat with them around a table that contained a feast. Take a moment before you eat, to bow your head and remember. As you eat this food that many hands have prepared, hold in the back of your mind the words of Christ: “Take and eat. This is my body.” And as you drink, hold in the back of your mind the words of Christ: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

And as you wait, as you eat and drink, may the darkness of waiting make the light shine brighter. May the pain you experience intensify your joy. And may your night, gradually, gloriously, give way to morning.

Amen.

The Seven Last Words of Christ: Readings for Lent

First Sunday of Lent

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”(Luke 23:34)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You forgave even those who took your hands and feet and drove nails into solid wood. Who, straining, lifted up the cross that held you and dropped it into place. You have forgiven them. When we ask for mercy, we are amazed to find that it has already been extended. You have forgiven us.

May we, in turn, forgive. Even before it is asked of us.

Second Sunday of Lent

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”(Luke 23:43)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

In your darkest hour, you turned to reassure the man beside you – a stranger. You extended eternity to him, even as you died. When we suffer, we find your hand extended to us – we find strength in the life you give us.

May we, in turn, have the strength, even in our darkest hour, to turn to the stranger suffering beside us and extend your life to them.

Third Sunday of Lent

“Dear woman, here is your son.”(John 19:26)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You turned, in your suffering, to care for those who cared for you. You turned those you loved toward each other, and asked them to give each other the status of family. You have called us your sisters, your brothers.

May we, in turn, turn to those you love, to your church, and give them the status of family.

Fourth Sunday of Lent

“I am thirsty.”(John 19:28)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You were fully human – thirsty as you hung there, in the hot sun. You felt the urgent need of a parched throat and a dry tongue. You have quenched our thirst with your living water.

May we, in turn, choose to quench the physical thirst of others. May we, in turn, choose to quench the spiritual thirst of others.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”(Mark 15:34)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You were abandoned by God, alone in your suffering. You withstood what we could not, and promised to never leave or forsake us.

May we, in turn, be faithful to those around us, walking with friends and strangers through their suffering.

Palm Sunday

“It is finished!”(John 19:30)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You finished the work you came into the world to complete. You completed, and will complete, the world in which you came to work. You have completed and will complete your work in us.

May we, in turn, have the opportunity to join you in this completion. To take up your work, and to pull the yoke with you as our partner.

Good Friday

“Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”(Luke 23:46)

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

After all. After everything. After the pain, the rejection, the sorrow – you entrusted your spirit to your heavenly father. Although you felt the forsakenness of sin in its fullest, you trusted your father. Now you entrust us to your heavenly Father – sitting at his right hand, and interceding for us.

May we, in turn, trust. May we learn the extent of your faithfulness. May we trust ourselves to you.

Easter Sunday

Jesus we come – to walk the road with you – to follow you to the cross. We prepare ourselves now to follow your footprints in the dust. To understand how you died. To understand how we die. To understand how you lived. To understand how we should live.

You consented to take on human weakness, being born as a baby. You healed the sick, gave hope to the poor, and freed the captives. You suffered sickness, and pain, and oppression. You were arrested. You were beaten. You were nailed to a cross. And you died. But then.

Oh but then.

After a long, dark wait – light conquered darkness.

Advent Liturgies, 2011

Most of the scripture passages are taken from the lectionary. The other words I wrote in the hope that they will help our community to be honest about the darkness in which we wait – but also will encourage anticipation for Christ’s coming. So often we seem to think he could hold off a bit (until we reach a certain goal, or achieve a certain experience), but the reality is that we need him now – our world needs him now.

If you wish, you could repeat these readings and prayers each day, as a personal means of experiencing Advent. Light a candle. Create some space. And add to these words your own prayers for our world, for your community, and for yourself.

Week 1, Sunday, November 27: HOPE

Reading 1: Psalm 80:1-7; 17-19

Reading 2: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of Israel’s hope for a Saviour, fulfilled in Christ. We light this candle as a symbol of our hope that Christ might enter each of our lives and transform us. We light this candle as a symbol of our hope that Christ will return and make all things new. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are surrounded by darkness. When we look at our world we see famine, injustice, and war. When we look at our community we see loneliness, sorrow, and pain. When we look at our own lives we see sin, fear, and shame. We are surrounded by darkness. But you, Jesus, are the morning star. The star that appears when night is at its darkest—and heralds the morning. Come, Lord Jesus, and awaken our hope. Come, Lord Jesus, and light our darkness. Come, Lord Jesus, and restore us, restore our community, restore our world. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Congregation Sings: verse one only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

Week 2, Sunday, December 4: LOVE

Reading 1: 2 Peter 3:8-15

Reading 2: Isaiah 40:1-11

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of God’s love for us, for our community, and for our world. We light this candle in the understanding that we continue to live in darkness, because God desires to bring light more abundantly. We light this candle as a symbol of our love, which provides light to the world through the Spirit of Christ, as we wait for him to return and make all things new. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are surrounded by darkness. We don’t understand why you allow famine and sickness. We don’t understand why you allow injustice and war. We don’t understand why you allow loneliness and pain. We are surrounded by darkness. But we understand that you love us. We see evidence of that love in the air we breathe, in the beauty we see, in the community you have given us, and especially in the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. Even as we long for your coming, we are thankful that your love holds it at bay—that more may come to you. As we wait, help us to extend your love to others. Come, Lord Jesus, and love beyond our understanding. Come, Lord Jesus, and let your tenacious love transform us, transform our community, transform our world. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Congregation Sings: verse one and two only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

Week 3, Sunday, December 11: JOY

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of the joy we have in Christ. We light this candle in celebration of the good news we have received, and the good news that is surely coming. We light this candle in anticipation of the joy we will experience when Christ returns to make all things new. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer:  Dear Lord, we are surrounded by darkness. Our joy is tempered by tears of sorrow. Our joy is tempered by pain and confusion. Our joy is tempered by news of the world’s despair. We are surrounded by darkness. But even in the midst of darkness, our joy cannot be repressed. For you have come to free the captive. You have come to make the blind see, and the deaf hear. You have come to bring peace to the nations. You have come to give sustenance to the poor, and to provide justice for the oppressed. Come, Lord Jesus, and teach us joy beyond circumstance. Come, Lord Jesus, and give us reason to rejoice. Come, Lord Jesus, so that our joy may be abundant, spilling from our mouths to light our community, and even our world. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Congregation Sings: verse one, two, and three only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

Week 4, Sunday, December 18: PEACE

Reading 1: Isaiah 9: 2-7

Reading 2: Colossians 1:15-20

Lighting of the Candle:  We light this candle as a symbol of the peace given to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord. We light this candle as a symbol of our unity as the body of Christ, and in the hope of greater unity yet to come. We light this candle, in a world tainted by war, as a proclamation that the God of peace will bring justice and peace to every shore. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are surrounded by darkness. When we look at our world we see hatred and war. When we look at our community we see anger and broken families. When we look at ourselves we see selfishness and discontentment. We are surrounded by darkness. But you, the light of life, have come to bring us peace—a peace that passes understanding, as we wait in our war-torn world for the light of your righteousness. Come, Lord Jesus, and heal our broken nations. Come, Lord Jesus, and heal our broken families. Come, Lord Jesus, and heal our broken hearts. Fill us with your peace. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Congregation Sings: verse one, two, three, and four only of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (no chorus).

Christmas: Sunday December 25 (or Saturday December 24); repeat on Sunday, January 1

Reading 1: Psalm 98

Reading 2: John 1:1-14

Reading 3: Titus 2:11-14

Lighting of the Candle: We light this candle as a symbol of our hope in Christ (light first candle). We light this candle as a symbol of Christ’s love for us (light second candle). We light this candle as a symbol of the joy we find in Christ (light third candle). We light this candle as a symbol of the peace of Christ (light fourth candle). And we light this candle in thankfulness for a creator who consented to become part of creation, so that we might know him better. We light this candle, rejoicing in the light of life that has broken into the darkness of the world. We light this candle, proclaiming that Christ has come, and that Christ is coming. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are surrounded by light. We do not deny the darkness that still lays hold of our world, of our community, of our lives—but we recognize that your light is greater. Your hope is stronger. Your love is wider. Your joy is deeper. Your peace is more substantial. We welcome you here. We rejoice over the unimaginable mystery of your incarnation with Simeon and Anna. We sing for joy over field and city with the angels. We kneel by your humble cradle with the shepherds. You have come. And everything is different. May we draw nearer to you this Christmas. May we share your hope. May we extend your love. May we be filled with your joy. May we experience your peace. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Congregation Sings: All of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” including the choruses!