WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
November 29, 2020
First, a word on fancy words. In worship we have this phrase we use called liturgy that feels like a formal way of having a worship leader saying stuffy things about God. The word means, “the work of the people” and liturgy is meant to be held, and owned by the worshippers, i.e. you. This service is planned to give you a path, a guide to pray, interact with scripture, wrestle with it – wrestle with God – and in so doing, have a moment of coming face to face with the divine right here, right now.
So, come and lay all the worries of the day aside. Take a deep breath, and we will start with a prayer.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
Christianity is mainly wishful thinking. Even the part about Judgment and Hell reflects the wish that somewhere the score is being kept.
Dreams are wishful thinking. Children playing at being grown-ups is wishful thinking. Interplanetary travel is wishful thinking.
Sometimes wishing is the wings the truth comes true on.
Sometimes the truth is what sets us wishing for it.
- Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
CALL TO WORSHIP
For those with Advent Wreaths, please take the moment to light your candles when directed in the words below
The Advent wreath is a circle with no beginning and no end, a sign that in Christ – our Alpha and Omega – we find our place in the eternal love of God. This wreath and the candles in it, is a symbol of God’s faithfulness, and the dawning realization we have of God’s nature that comes to life in Jesus, the one for whom we wait.
Today we light the candle of hope. The people of Israel hoped in God’s promises and were not disappointed. Again and again God delivered Israel from its enemies. We too have the same experience of deliverance in our own salvation. That is why we believe in God’s promise to send Jesus to us once again to establish His everlasting kingdom of light.
Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. Today we light this candle, celebrating the certain hope we have in Jesus.
The candle may be lit here.
Prayer: Thank you God for the hope you give us. We ask that, as we wait for all your promises to come true and for Christ to come again, you would strengthen our faith and help us to sense your presence beside us and within us. Help us today and every day to worship you with the way we live. Empower us to hear your word and then do your will by sharing your hope with each other and with those around us. We ask these things in the Name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Surely, God is our salvation. Have faith, and do not be afraid.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Lord, we have not kept watch for you. We have occupied ourselves with our concerns. We have not waited to find your will for us. We have not noticed the needs of the people around us. We have not acknowledged the love that has been shown to us.
Forgive us for our lack of watchfulness. Help us to wait to know your will. Help us to look for the needs of others. Help us to work and watch for your coming. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The wilderness will rejoice; the dry land will blossom. The people of God will return with joy and singing. In the name of Jesus Christ, the very one for whom we wait, we are forgiven. Amen.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Even in the darkest of times you prepare the tender shoots of our tomorrow. Remind us in these words of your promises of goodness, of love, of wholeness, and bring us the peace of real and lasting hope. Amen.
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
From the Fig Tree
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
SUNDAY SCHOOL AT HOME
Although we can’t be in the same proximity physically, we can be together in spirit. We are happy to be able to provide to you age appropriate Sunday school lessons each week for you to do with your children. Click the Sunday School button to be directed to our weekly lessons.
STAYING CONNECTED FOR ADULTS
Faith Formation is pleased to announce the following adult learning opportunities that are meeting “virtually” while we “shelter in place”. Anyone is welcome to participate. Contact information and more details can be found by clicking the Adult Opportunities button.
RESPONDING TO THE WORD
Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer
God of our future, you are coming in power to bring all things to yourself. We have hope for your coming kingdom because we trust in your promises, which are found to be true in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we enter this new season of waiting today, help us to be on the watch, expecting to see how you continue to show up in our lives today. Shape our thoughts beyond what we can see with our eyes, beyond even our normal expectations, and help us live with steady hope for what is to come, by learning to see glimpses of your kingdom already among us.
In Advent we try to live with the same immediate anticipation as the first Christians. We strip away the distractions to celebrate that in Jesus we come face to face with who you really are. Make us open up so that when we meet you, we can be shaped by the encounter so deeply that our decision-making, our everyday chores, our relationships will all be rooted in the love you pour into the world. Make us open to others, especially in this season, that we may invite others into our own lives and remain connected. Even as we acknowledge a world fractured by necessary social distancing for health reasons, we also recognize the far deeper and far more toxic fracturing that exists along social and political lines. Give us hope for a restored future, and make each of us open to others that we may be a healing presence in this time.
As a people filled with hope, keep us ever watchful in this world for the pain and suffering of others in a needy world. Allow our prayers for others to drive us to action by providing care for those we remember, and become agents of your peace, even as we pray for your Kingdom Come. Closer to home, we know that you see the needs and hurts of our members, even those that lay deep within wounded hearts. Come close to those struggling with loneliness, frustration over the health crisis, loss for friends or family, fear for the future in the economic crisis and the lay-offs that are once more mounting. Be with all who are struggling with chronic pain, especially the spiritual pain that drive coping mechanisms and self-medication.
You alone see us as we truly and fully are, and yet you love us far more than we can ever hope or imagine. This alone fills us with hope, knowing that we are never truly alone.
You are invited to silently lift the names of particular people or situations that weigh heavily on your soul at this time.
We seal these prayers with the one he taught us, saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and power and the glory, Amen.
How can we pray for you?
Click the button to send us your prayer concerns and joys and stay connected.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS
During Advent we turn so much focus on our “waiting” for Jesus’ that we sometimes miss how our daily life is part of the waiting. Right here, right now there are ways to live with hope and expectation for what God is doing in the world.
We can join in this work by volunteering to help our neighbors, by joining with our ministries to continue making an impact in the lives of our fellow church members – like helping to teach our children. We can also help by pledging to support this church community financially as we make a bigger and bigger impact in our local, regional, and even international communities.
If you have struggled finding a way to help support the work PCW does in our local and broader community in these days of worshipping remotely, remember, you can send checks to 140 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090, or email Tina Barulli at email@example.com if you have that ability.
Living with hope means living with a knowledge of things to come, based on and trusting in the past. God has tended our lives and even in this difficult time, God loves and cultivates our lives still. The world needs, perhaps more than ever, to see hope lived out.
This is our call, and for this we wait. We wait for the coming kingdom of Christ as a way of teaching our neighbors that God can be trusted.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one for whom we wait; the love of the Father, who calls us back to abundant life; and the communion of the Holy Spirit, who sustains us still with every breath we take, be with you now and always. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
Peace be with you
Please pass the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to your neighbors.