WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
December 13, 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
In the Gospel of John, Jesus sums up pretty much everything by saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” He said it at the supper that he knew was the last one he’d have a mouth to eat.
Happiness turns up more or less where you’d expect it to – a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths 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 joy. Even though we have walked in the darkness, we rejoice that we have seen the light of Christ. We rejoice that his light scatters the night of our disbelief and guides us into relationship with God. We rejoice that our faith finds voice in Christ and is sustained by the love of our coming savior.
The candles may be lit here.
Prayer: Emmanuel, brighten your light within our hearts by the power of your Spirit. Help each one of us to be ready for Christ’s return, whether He comes back today or years from now. Fix our hearts and our minds on the things you have done and those you have promised to do so that we may have joy in the new life you have promised. As we worship you, strengthen us so that we may always do your will and so bless you and the world you have made. We pray in the name of our greatest source of Joy, the One 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
When we encounter your presence, we erupt in joy, magnifying your love in this world, our God. Open for us, in these words today, your promise of Emmanuel that we may turn to see you in our everyday lives.
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
We are Waiting
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
To God we pray, “Your kingdom come!” Come bring your purpose near and fade the power of evil as your goodness brings righteousness like a rolling stream to quench every parched heart. Even in this season of waiting we can sense your kingdom is close at hand.
To God we pray, “Your kingdom come!” Come as the marriage feast in which the first and honored guests shall be the last and least; come life the poorest of the poor up to your finest ranks and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and may every downcast soul feel its worth.
To God we pray, “Your kingdom come!” Come and grant your unity. You seek and tend the wayward ones to form a new community, ensuring that no one at the margins is lost. You bring everyone in to find a good and holy place to rest. And we all find our joy is centered in your embrace.
To God we pray, “Your kingdom come!” Come claim the whole of creation and turn us from our ways of power and division; bring your lasting reign through the love of your Son so that all our old hurts may be healed, and mercy, justice, peace will finally guide our ways. We pray this in the joy of the one who comes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have that ability.
Living with joy is a kind of seeing beyond the present circumstances that dominate the scenery to the sublime movement of God through creation. When we catch glimpses of this our souls rejoice and the love cannot help but escape in a torrent of compassion for those we meet. It is encounters like this that change lives forever.
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.
Assorted prayers for this week have been taken and/or adapted from The Worship Sourcebook