December 2, 2018
This first Sunday of December is also the first Sunday of the season of Advent – four Sundays of “preparation” for the coming of the Christ.
Many traditions have built up in the church in the last 75 years, including observance of this season with the lighting of a candle, adding one each of the four weeks until the center Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve.
Also, in some congregations, “Hanging of the Greens” is a traditional, celebrative service on the first Sunday of Advent, when the congregation works together to hang the greens, adding holly and/or lights and/or candles and/or chrismons and/or a Christmas tree.
Call to Worship and opening prayer
(linked to lighting the Advent wreath candle of Hope)
One: It is the first Sunday of a whole new season: Advent!
Many: We’re gathered, beginning preparations for the Coming One.
One: Today focus with me on our Advent wreath;
together, let us voice our longing.
Solo: (sing just this phrase) “O come, O come, Emmanuel…”
One: __________ comes to light the first candle, a candle of hope.
(candlelighter lights the first candle)
And together we pray: (unison)
All: God, we stand in the dimness, eager for your Light to emerge.
Help us wait actively, hopefully,
until your Son shines brightly,
and the whole world can see your power and your glory. AMEN
All: Sing verse 1, “O Come”, CH #119
This first Sunday of December is more likely to be known in the USA as the mid-way point of Black Friday, small business Saturday, Cyber Monday and giving Tuesday…
How we’ve managed to buy into the hype of “more”, and “faster”; “new” and “improved”. Retail businesses recognize 20-40 percent of their profit for the year comes in sales in November and December!
So we come to this day in the church, aware of the financial appeals, the gift expectations and the family/friends/work demands which are all around us.
And yet…the ministry of this congregation continues. The opportunities for lifting up and encouraging our neighbors-in-need, (name a particular outreach or mission ministry here) grow in December. Our special-day Christmas offering will help ______________ (for Disciples, this offering supports the ministry of our region).
Your giving makes a difference to the church, to our ministries, and to the world.
In response to God’s great gift of salvation, let us offer our thankful response.
Our financial gifts today are one way God teaches us (Psalm 25:5)
“lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation,
for you I wait all day long”
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Holy God, thank you for leading us and teaching us. Thank you for sending Jesus. In this hope-filled day, we offer you our gratitude for the opportunity to give a portion of what we have received. Help these gifts grow your Realm of hope,
and help us to be your ambassadors of hope in a world struggling against hopelessness. AMEN
Invitation to Communion
With Christmas decorations appearing in US stores at the end of October, the media blitz erupting to urge everyone to shop, shop, shop, and Santa arriving by helicopter in the city’s downtown, it’s all the more challenging to focus our anticipation on the coming of the Christ.
So join me as we take time this Advent to step resolutely into the original “reason for the season”.
Pause. Breathe in the moment.
Re-orient your minds and hearts.
Come to this Table, with Luke’s language ringing in our ears:
“be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
Today, consider this bread “power bread”, and this cup “mighty juice”.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
All are welcome to take and eat, take and drink…that we all may have the strength to stand before the Coming One!