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GOOD MORNING!

 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

3rd Sunday of Advent (Joy)

Communion Sunday

 

 

Scripture Readings:

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Sermon/Gospel Reading: John 1:6-8, 19-28

 

3rd Advent Candle Lighting Reading:

Reader One: We want everything to look nice: the decorations of the season, our homes with their lights and tinsel, wreaths and ribbons. We want to lighten the darkness around us, bring beauty to the ugliness that wears us down. We decorate, because it is tradition. Because it lifts our hearts. Because it makes us feel like children again. We deck our halls because company is coming.

 

Reader Two: The prophet Isaiah smiled when he said, "God will give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit." No matter how far we feel from the spirit of the season, God promises to decorate us with love and with joy.

 

Reader One: We light these candles as a sign of our joy in the beautiful things of this season - not just the things that glitter and flash, but the deeper things, the beauty of the heart and the soul, the beauty of love shared in service and hospitality. We light this candle of joy because company is coming.

 

Reader Two: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. (Light the two previous lit purple candles and the pink candle)

 

Call to Worship: (responsively)

Leader: A voice cries out: "Prepare for God's arrival!

Congregation: Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God.

Leader: Fill in the valleys, level off the hills.

Congregation: Smooth out the ruts, and clear out the rocks.

Leader: For our God is coming!

All: Let's worship together.

 

Opening Prayer: (in unison)

Holy One, you have come among us to lead us in paths of righteousness. Guide our feet through the wilderness toward the living water of your grace, following in the steps of our Savior: Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

 

Affirmation of Faith: (in unison)

We believe in the one God, creator and sustainer of all things, Father of all nations, the source of all goodness and beauty, all truth and love. We believe in Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, our teacher, example, and Redeemer, the Savior of the world. We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance, for comfort, and for strength. We believe in the forgiveness of sins, in the life of love and prayer, and in grace equal to every need. We believe in the Word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments as the sufficient rule both of faith and of practice. We believe in the church, those who are united in the living Lord for the purpose of worship and service. We believe in the reign of God as the divine will realized in human society, and in the family of God, where we are all brothers and sisters. We believe in the final triumph of righteousness and in the life everlasting. Amen

 

Communion Liturgy for Advent

One: In this season of expectant waiting, we are invited to Christ's table here and now.  Coming to Christ's table is a way to experience the grace of God.  Therefore, it is open to all.  The only requirement is a sincere heart.  The only barriers to the table are created in our own heart.  So, we come together as a people to confess our sins to God.  We confess as a people because we all fall short of God's plan of perfect love.  We do not confess to avoid punishment.  We confess to free our own hearts and minds, so we may remove the barriers we build between ourselves, our God, and our brothers and sisters.

 

All: We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.   We go about our lives as if Christmas is an event to be celebrated, but not lived.  We hear the good news, but do not heed it.  We turn away the holy family for there is no room in our hearts.  We hear the cry of the expectant mother, desperate for care and a place to lie, but listen instead to the carols.  We see the lowly children, born in mangers among the filth of the world, but we look instead to the decorations.  We hear the call of the Angels to come and worship the newborn King, but we bow down to the idols of our culture.  Forgive us, we pray.  Forgive us and free us for joyful obedience.  Remove the barriers that we construct and empower us to be a people doing the real, gritty, holy, graceful, loving work of Christmas every day. In the name of the Holy Spirit, we pray.  Amen. 

 

One: Out of the wilderness a voice calls out.  Prepare ye the way of the Lord.  Prepare ye the way of love.  Prepare ye the way of forgiveness.  The Christ child was born in the midst of darkness.  The waiting is over.  Christ may be born today in your heart.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven.

 

All:         Joy to the World. Amen.

 

One:      The Lord be with you

All:         And also with you.

 

One:      Lift up your hearts.

All:         We lift them up to the Lord.

 

One:      Now let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All:         How good it is to give thanks and praise.

 

One: It is good to give our thanks and praise.  It is a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you, God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.  You create the world from chaos.  By simply speaking, you set the cosmos into motion, and create all things from the dust of stars.

All: Blessed are you, O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth.

 

One: God of many blessings, you called out a family to be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  You gave them a land, and promised to make of them a great nation so that all of the nations of the world could be blessed.

All:         Blessed are you, God of Abraham and Sarah.

 

One: God of salvation, when the people were but slaves in Egypt you called upon your servant Moses. You gave him the power to speak salvation to the Pharaoh, and led your people out of slavery.  You led them over the water, and helped them Passover into freedom.  When the people were hungry, you gave them food from the sky.  When the people were thirsty, you brought forth water from the rocks.  When the people were no people, you gave them the Law.

All:         Blessed are you, God of our salvation.

 

One: When the people asked for a King, you anointed David to be a just ruler. Though flawed, David united the people, and you promised to be with his line forever.  When the Kings rebelled, as you warned them they would, you anointed the prophets, who called the people back to obedience.  The prophets spoke the truth to power, and called the people to remember who and whose they were.  The prophets warned the people of the consequences of injustice and false worship.  When the people fell into exile, the prophets spoke words of hope and restoration when all around them, there was nothing but despair.

All: A voice is crying out: "Clear the Lord's way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!

 

One: You promised the coming of an anointed one, who would lead the people to peace and righteousness.  You promised that the descendant of David would rule forever. You promised that out of Bethlehem would come the Prince of Peace.  You promised the coming of your Kingdom, when "swords would be beaten into plows, and spears into pruning hooks."

All: "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

 

One:  John the Baptist came, telling the people to "Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!"  John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. And so now we come, having confessed our sins, searching for the Holy Spirit to come and fill us with expectant grace.  We come to be transformed by what has already come, and waiting with hope for what is to come.  We deck our halls with joy, but it is our hearts that truly matter.

All:  Prepare the way of the Lord in our world.  Prepare the way of the Lord in our communities.  Prepare the way of the Lord in our churches.  Prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts.

 

One: And so, in hopeful anticipation, we give thanks to you, God of Creation,  God of Abraham and Sarah,  God of salvation, God of the Law, God of King David, God of the Prophets, God of hope and deliverance, God of John, and God of us all.  We join in praise and come together to sing unending hymn of the saints of glory.

 

All: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord.  God of power and might adored, heaven and earth are shining bright with the glory of your light.  Loud Hosannas now we sing. In the highest they may ring. Blessed is the coming one. Christ Emmanuel your son.  Glory in the highest. Holy God, your name is blessed. 

 

One: Holy are you, and holy is your Son Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh.

All: Holy are you, and Holy is your Son Jesus Christ.

 

One: Who is the one to whom John pointed in the wilderness.

All:  Holy are you, and Holy is your Son Jesus Christ.

 

One: Who was born to us in a manger, for there was no room in the inn.

 

All: Holy are you, and Holy is your Son Jesus Christ.

One: Who came to show us the way to your love.  He proclaimed good news to the poor.  He restored the sight to the blind.  He called the children to his side, taught the women, ate with sinners, and called out the religious leaders blinded by the letter of the Law.

All: Holy are you, and Holy is your Son Jesus Christ.

 

One: Who was betrayed by those who loved him.  Who was persecuted by those who feared him.  Who was crucified by those who thought that his death would be the end of him.

All: Holy are you, and Holy is your Son Jesus Christ.

 

One: Who, on the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

All: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

 

One: And when the supper was over, took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples and said:

All: "Drink from this, all of you.  This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

 

One: And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

All: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

 

One: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.  Make us a Christmas people, secure in what has come, and hopeful for what is yet to be.  By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.  Keep us vigilant in our Advent waiting until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

 


 

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