December 1, 2019
Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving
This is the first Sunday of the Christian year. Four Sundays of Advent give us time to prepare for the Coming One. Some congregations will be dressed in purple; others in blue. Tradition in some places include lighting an Advent wreath candle, and many places focus on hope, peace, joy and love as themes for those candles/weeks. Consider taking time at the beginning of each Advent service to explain the themes, colors, candles and the growing sense of expectation.
Call to Worship (including allusions to Isaiah 2:1-5)
One: Prepare the way for the Christ child. God is at work, and
it’s time for us to get ready!
Many: We gather, eagerly waiting for the light of the world to
come to us.
One: We’re expecting … one who will challenge us to beat our swords
into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.
Many: Standing in the light, we shall not learn war or hatred,
division or cruelty any more.
One: So wake up! Get ready, for the long-expected one is coming!
All: With quiet anticipation, we come to worship the God
who will come again.
Holy God, we are drowsy. We are so sleepy! We mostly want to concentrate on our own comfort.
But you shine the Light of Life before our eyes. We recognize the bubble of hope rising in us. Help us wake up! Fill us with hope for the Coming One, even as we offer you our praise. AMEN
(call to worship and opening prayer adapted from https://ruachwords.org/2016/11/19)
Invitation to the Offering
In the church, this is the first Sunday of a whole new year! It’s a time of anticipation, as we eagerly and actively wait for the birth of the Messiah.
Connected to the birth of Jesus AND connected to our American culture, this is a high-intensity season of spending money as we buy or create gifts for family and friends (and work colleagues, and study group participants, and the neighbors…)
On this first Sunday of Advent, I’d like to challenge you to include this congregation in your gift-giving.
(list several options which are available in your congregation, such as:
You might be part of our providing gifts for those in our community
who are unable to provide gifts for their children.
You might make a gift to our special Christmas offering, which will
________ (describe where it will go and what you expect it to do).
You might want to remember our staff, your Bible study leader, your
Sunday School teacher, or the children in your class with a gift.
You might make a discipline of setting aside one item for our Little
Food Pantry each day, bringing your contributions on Christmas Eve.)
You could make a year-end gift to support the work and mission of
our congregation, to complete our Capital Funds campaign or add to
our endowment funds.)
In the midst of any and all of your special ways of giving, remember the on-going work of _______ Church can only continue when we faithfully share our tithes, our gifts and our offerings.
Launching into this new church year, let us share as we celebrate God’s presence among us, for “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God of Hope, we give you thanks for the ways you appear among us. Receive this offering, and help us utilize these gifts to continue to prepare the way for your Realm to come on earth as it is in heaven. AMEN
Invitation to Communion (from Matthew 24:44)
Near the end of Matthew’s Gospel (chapters 24 and 25), we hear a “little apocalypse”, when the end of time is described in graphic (and sometimes gruesome) language.
Yet our text today begins with the caution: “about that day and hour no one knows.” Even so, the instruction is clear; “you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
So today, I invite you to see this table as an athletic training table. Here you are provided with what’s needed to get ready! It’s the exact diet for disciples: symbols of Jesus’ life, of his death and resurrection. In these gifts of bread and juice we are invited to take Jesus into our lives to be made one with him.
Come! The feast is before us, we are all welcome, and in this meal we are given what’s needed for us to be ready!
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