CALL TO WORSHIP
In the midst of violence and terror,
we come seeking the presence of the Sacred.
Surrounded by voices stoking panic and mistrust,
we wait, listening for your Word for us.
In confidence we will cast aside all fear,
for the Holy One is at work in us,
creating us for love and compassion.
God of wilderness moments, we long for our path to be made clear. Uncover our eyes to see the good work you accomplish around us even now when times seem so dark.
Today we gather in this place, a small community of your followers, yet we discover ourselves united with your children, far and wide across the globe. Though we speak varied languages, in joy you reveal we are one in Christ.
We offer you our small praises and thanksgivings, you instead greet us with urgent calls to action. The prophets entreat us to prepare the way for your reign of peace now.
Bring light into our darkness, Advent God. Through your tender mercies use this time of worship to refine our hearts, sending us out to be messengers of your grace and peace.
In the name of Emmanuel, God with Us, we pray. Amen.
Lighting of the Advent Candle
All around us signs of the holidays are multiplying.
Christmas lights line the streets,
shops are decked out in red and green, silver and gold.
Even our coffee cups have turned a holiday red.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, the carol chime.
Yet in times such as these, the joy of the carols rings hollow.
Twinkling lights never fully pierce the darkness.
And peace on earth seems so elusive.
We wonder if Christmas is indeed only for children.
In the waiting time of Advent, we are called to pause,
to look past the tinsel and garland. All is not as it seems.
Yes, the darkness presses in.
Yes, our fragmented world seems beyond repair,
Yes, we fall short time and time again.
But Advent does not leave us in despair. It beckons us to cast our gaze again. In worship and prayer, our eyes see the world through the promises of Holy Scripture. The song of Zachariah resists the darkness, proclaiming:
…Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.
Today, against every naysayer and every proclamation of doom, we stubbornly light the second candle of Advent, the light of peace. Its light cannot cast out the darkness by itself, but spreads wherever we, who are called to be peacemakers, shine bright.
Song of Advent When God Is a Child vs. 1, 2
Prayer of Confession
Refining God, we confess we are not a peaceful people.
When our world is shaken,
we prioritize power and might,
we close ranks with those who look or think like we do,
and we distrust those who are different from us.
Merciful God, we confess we are not peaceful people.
When we are hurt,
we choose revenge,
we harbor resentment,
and we withhold forgiveness.
Compassionate God, we confess we are not peaceful.
When life gets difficult,
we don’t believe in nonviolence,
we fear appearing weak,
and we idolize power.
(silence for reflection)
This we know is true:
The One who began a good work in us
will bring it to completion.
With gratitude for the peace beyond our comprehension,
let us offer the peace of Christ to one another.
Sharing of the Peace
COMMUNION LITURGY (pieces only)
INVITATION TO COMMUNION
During the holiday season there will be much feasting. Invitations to luncheons and dinners, buffets and sit-down affairs will be shared. We will eat on paper plates and fine china. We will enjoy tasty treats and old familiar dishes.
At each invitation we may bring gifts for our hosts: a Christmas wreath, a bottle of wine, a box of our favorite chocolates.
At this table, no hostess gift is required.
No Christmas trinkets needed.
In fact, there is nothing for you to bring to this table–Nothing but an open heart.
So accept this invitation. Feel the welcome of God at this table. This is where Christ promises to meet us–here in bread and cup. Here we are his guests.
and here…all are welcome at Christ’s table.
Everyone is welcome at Christ’s table.
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 for your promise of peace.
Give thanks to the One who will set things right.
We praise the One who journeys with us.
We give you thanks, Compassionate God, you bless us with life and love. Never leaving us, you watch over us with hope.
Even when we turn away, reject your friendship, find ourselves in exile, you journey alongside us, never failing in your steadfast love.
In our tough days when we feel weak and broken, heavy-hearted with regret–you stay with us, holding us in your arms of grace.
With your infinite wisdom, you invite us to be partners in recreating the world, as the dwelling place of your kingdom,
where mercy triumphs over judgement,
love conquers hate,
and peace overwhelms the whole earth.
And so in hope for the in-breaking of your kingdom we join our voices with all those who long for justice and those who do the hard work of making peace, saying:
Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Advent Peace.
Heaven and earth sing your praises!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who welcomes all people into your grace.
Having feasted on bread, broken and blessed,
we are sent to share our plenty with the least of those among us.
With the taste of rich wine, God’s forgiveness and mercy, lingering on our lips,
we are called to be messengers for God’s realm of peace.
Embraced by the welcome of God at this table,
we are now free to love the world.