Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving
Continue to grow your Advent decorations, perhaps adding poinsettias, or additional banners, and lighting the second Advent candle. If you are lighting a traditional wreath (3 purple, 1 pink), remember the pink candle is lit at the ½ way point in a season which was observed as a season of fasting – JOY to have reached the mid-way of Advent 3).
Call to Worship (in 1 voice)
(if you have someone who could/would dress as John the Baptist, and speak out the Call to Worship, have that person emerge suddenly into the chancel and proclaim,
Prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight the paths.
For every valley will be filled,
every mountain and hill will be flattened.
that means YOU (pointing) and YOU
ALL of YOU (sweep to include all)
will see the salvation of our God!
Then John authoritatively strides down the aisle and out, as a worship leader prays, a hymn is sung, or a soloist/choir sings “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” from Godspell)
(if not using Luke 3 with a “live” John, invite the worship leader to use this adaptation from Luke 1, Zechariah’s prophecy:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who has visited
and raised up for us a power for salvation.
For God remembers this oath, sworn to Abraham:
to grant us freedom from fear,
deliverance from our enemies
and time to serve God
all our days.
So, come! In peace let us rejoice in the Coming One, the Rising Sun,
who comes to give light to all who live in darkness.
God of peace, open our hearts, our minds, and our spirits to your presence in each of us. Receive our eager desire to claim all you have promised your people, through your covenants. Fill us with a yearning to prepare our inner lives with as much energy and delight as we express with our friends and family in this holiday season. Challenge us today and each day to be true followers of the One who is coming, even Jesus, the Christ, AMEN
Moment for Stewardship (from Malachi 3)
We so easily get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas! With a huge tradition of buying MORE, MORE, MORE, it’s such a challenge to stand against what surrounds us. It’s one reason I’m so grateful for a weekly worship time, reminding each one of us of the birth of Christ as the “reason for the season”.
The prophet Malachi would not be welcomed in many places, because his message challenges us to take on the hard work of changing ourselves as we prepare for God’s Son, the Coming One, described as “refiner” and “purifier”. Malachi urges us to prepare so our offering will be welcomed by God.
“Return to me” is the plea from God…encouraging each of us not to cheat God, but to bring our full tithes.
So how will you “return”? What gift do you bring to identify yourself as a child of God? What offering will you bring to honor the God who gives us hope and peace?
May our gifts be symbols of our lives, helping us turn away from piling up excess for those who already live in abundance. Today, let’s offer our best to our Creator and to sisters and brothers who are in need (end this invitation with a specific appeal for your congregation’s Christmas offering).
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God, it’s not easy to stand against all the hubbub and commotion around the “buy more” culture! Thank you for the challenge from your prophets, and the invitation you keep extending to return to you.
Please receive these offerings even as you continue to refine each of us. Help us stand as your purified people. Inspire us, again and again, to offer you the first portion of our finances, our time, and our talents, not only in this Advent season, but in every day of our lives.
Invitation to Communion
Long before Jesus was born, the priest Zechariah prophesied God’s tender mercy would be made known in the Coming One. This un-named Lord would give light to those who live in darkness and serve as guide to lead our feet into the way of peace.
Today, we know so much more of the full story of God’s mercy, embodied in Jesus. The man who long ago said “peace I leave with you” still speaks “peace” into our lives today.
So each Sunday, as we come to the Table, we recognize the amazing gift we’ve been given. In these simple emblems of bread and juice,
we’re invited to re-member – to put the pieces together –
and to re-claim the peace/shalom of Christ.
So much of this Advent season brings memory to the forefront.
We remember how the waiting world yearned for a Savior.
We remember how the prophets anticipated light for the darkness, hope for the suffering, and peace for a weary world.
We remember our own family or friends, who joined us at communion in the past (many of whom now are part of the great cloud of witnesses).
We remember Jesus,
Today, as we eat this bread and drink from the cup, may each of us claim the peace of Christ as we are nourished for the journey. Let peace be in our hearts as we follow the One who guides our feet.