CALL TO WORSHIP
Take comfort, for though darkness looms heavy upon us, all is not lost.
We choose to wait, but not as those without hope.
Today is a beginning, a pregnant pause,
brimming over with fear and wonder.
We will stop and linger,
listening for the Holy One to show us the paths of peace.
Watch, for the God of the threshold comes near.
We will not be afraid, for our Pilgrim God meets us along the way.
Journeying God, stay with us at the beginning of this Advent road. As the days grow shorter and darkness holds sway, the path before us seems dim. Take our hand, Source of Love, and walk with us.
Teach us to travel lightly.
Free our hearts from fear as we encounter unfamiliar crossroads.
And as we find our bearings, grant us courage to welcome those we meet, be they on journeys different from ours, yet still companions on life’s way. Amen.
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLE
A secret entrance to another world has long been fertile ground for great writers.
Alice enters a backwards world through a looking glass.
Harry Potter walks through a brick wall at 9 ¾ Kings Cross Station to board the train to Hogwarts.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic tale, little Lucy Pevensie accidentally discovers the world of Narnia while playing hide and seek in the back of an old wardrobe.
In the midst of everyday life, another world is waiting, unnoticed by passersby.
In a similar way, the ancient Celtic Christians spoke of thin places and times. A thin place is somewhere in which the veil between this world and the Holy has worn thin. Sometimes, thin places are created in an instant, with a momentary blinding light of grace on an open road or crowded street corner. Most often, thin places were made so through prayers upon prayers offered by generation after generation in that same space.
Advent is such a thin place–a thin time–a moment of the year in which prayers and stories, rituals and shared meals bring us within a whisper of the Sacred. Generations of the faithful have been here before us, seeking the promised Christ Child.
Today we light the first candle of Advent. In the middle of ordinary days, the light shines as a sign of hope: the Holy One draws near, so very close.
Let us keep watch.
And may God grant us eyes to see.
SONG OF ADVENT When God Is a Child, v. 1 (candle is lit)
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of mystery, giver of light and hope,
we confess we have little patience to wait–
we’ve exchanged the priceless for worthless trinkets,
the poor for the well-connected,
the eternal for the immediate.
We have fallen for the lies we tell ourselves–
we’re too busy,
it’s not important,
it won’t make a difference.
We confess we are captive to the voices of fear around us–
we have tightened our grip on our possessions
locked the gates of our communities,
justified our prejudices with lies.
Forgive us all that is past
and lead us out from darkness
to walk as children of light.
(silence for reflection)
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
This we know is true:
The Lord leads the humble along right ways,
and all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love. Amen.
SONG OF PRAYER Come, O Lord, and Set Us Free (video link here.)
Come, O Lord, and set us free;
Bring your people peace.
Come, O Lord and set us free;
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
COMMUNION LITURGY (PIECES ONLY)
May the God of Advent be near to you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, do not be afraid.
We will lift our hearts in unwavering hope.
Give thanks to the One who will set things right.
We praise the One who journeys with us.
Creator of Light, we rejoice for the Sacred reveals itself to us everywhere:
in the never ending flow of ocean waves,
the beauty of a starlit night,
the splendor of all creation.
In the waiting time of Advent, you beckon us to listen for the voices crying in the wilderness:
speaking out for justice for the oppressed,
offering comfort for the brokenhearted,
bringing hope to those living in dark times.
With your merciful spirit you invite us in, and your love provides the space for us to live and breathe.
And so, in anticipation of your realm of peace yet to be fully realized,
and in celebration of your presence with us in each moment,
we lift our voices in thanksgiving,
joining the mighty chorus of those who long for hope
and those who have seen your face, saying:
Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Advent Hope.
Heaven and earth sing your praises!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who welcomes all people into your love.