December 8, 2019
Center for Faith and Giving
This is Advent 2, traditionally known as Peace Sunday. If you are lighting an Advent wreath, this is a second Sunday for a purple (or blue) candle.
Call to Worship (inspired from Matthew 3)
To make this quite clear, use 1 voice, but ask six people to hold up newspapers, across which you’ve written. Use 1 word over the paper’s front page…like a one-word headline … (or create a slide for your screen, with one word super-imposed over your local paper’s front page)
Prepare – the – way – of – the – Lord
Have you heard the news?
Get the news writers excited.
Rearrange their headlines
with words of hope and peace:
Get the economists excited.
Give them news of upturns and renewal
in people’s values rather than market value
Get the politicians lobbied.
Inform them it is time to measure
a new index of the nation’s GNP: gross national peace
Get the poor enthused.
Invite them to find their place at table
and help themselves to a banquet shared with the rich
Get justice underway.
Get busy crushing the darkness
and countering the now exposed half-truths of those in power
Get the bread of life baked.
Get the wine of truth poured
and bring on the advent of God
Prepare the way of the Lord!
~ (adapted from a piece by Roddy Hamilton, https://www.nkchurch.org.uk/original-liturgy)
Opening Prayer (inspired from Matthew 3)
God, your servant John the Baptist cries out to us:
“Repent; turn and be restored”.
Can we hear? Will we respond?
Holy God, open the ears of our souls
to hear your word of salvation.
Holy and Peace-Inspiring God, on this second Sunday of Advent,
Open wide our hearts and our minds
To see, feel, hear, and know the salvation of our God.
~ adapted from Literature & Liturgy. https://jesusscribbles.wordpress.com/
Invitation to Stewardship (from Isaiah 11 text)
(if this is a Sunday to make an appeal for a special Christmas offering, please include that description, as well)
In this Advent season, so many of us are inundated with appeals to give. The reality is, the number of non-profits in the US (about 1.5 million!) has grown exponentially in our life-times.
So why is this congregation one of the best places for you to offer your financial gifts? (In addition, why is this Christmas offering appeal one to which it would be great to respond?)
We may not have flashy advertisements or great ads to pop up on our computers, but we do provide outreach and ministry in our community throughout the year. (tell 1 specific story about 1 particular ministry, preferably as a story you, yourself, can tell with assurance as a place you support with your finances).
It is here, through ministries like this, we seek to live into the vision we recognize from Isaiah: where “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”
Your gifts help provide a space and a way for PEACE to be at work, and “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”.
With JOY, let us offer our tithes and financial gifts.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Peace-Making God, with gratitude we receive these gifts from your people. For each one who has offered coin or check and for all who have given online, we ask your blessing. May your spirit dwell with each; a spirit of wisdom and understanding, so we will not hurt or destroy, but step into the way of life Jesus taught, that your Realm might be ever-more real among your people. AMEN
(if you have the capacity to use music videos, here’s a classic to consider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9kfdEyV3RQ&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3HzbOgkrgZtwU 4gox3tMmsoDNbELbK_4U9vA3L_irCAq7b4LcuoC3uiWo)
Invitation to Communion
John the Baptist is one of those Biblical characters who cause most of us to turn and go the other way! He’s a demanding, challenging character, full of hard sayings, as we hear from him in Matthew 3.
And yet, John the Baptist makes clear he’s coming to prepare the way for the Christ who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire.
We regularly come to this table during Advent and Christmas with a crèche nearby, helping us look back, remember, and think about the beauty, freshness, innocence and simplicity of a babe in the manger.
Today, I invite you to come to this table with a different orientation. Come in anticipation of Christ coming to harvest the wheat. John the Baptist draws the image: Christ will come with his winnowing fork, ready to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Come to the table, eager to partake of bread and cup as symbols and signs of Christ’s presence we take into our own lives. Let this be a feast of identification, for we’re determined to be “little Christs” in today’s world.
All are welcome to share in this meal!