WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
December 20, 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
Of all powers, love is the most powerful and the most powerless. It is the most powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart. It is the most powerless because it can do nothing except by consent.
To say that love is God is romantic idealism. To say that God is love is either the last straw or ultimate truth.
In the Christian sense, love is not primarily an emotion, but an act of will.
- 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 love to remind us of the burning love that God has for each and every one of us. His love is one that never dies, never tires of pursuing us, and never gives up on us. We are reminded that since God loved us so much, we also out to love on another. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. We love because he first loved us.
The candle may be lit here.
Prayer: O God of Love, Emmanuel, send the light of your love into our hearts at this time. Help us to be ready for the return of our one and only truest love, your Son Jesus. Grant that we may so dwell in Him and He in us that His perfect love would fill our entire being. Make our worship a time in which we celebrate Your love and are made ready to show and proclaim that love to the whole world, both today and forever. We pray in the name of Him who loves us most and best, 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
It is in you and you alone, Father, that we discover true love, and also our need for it. Open these words of scripture for us that we may find here your promises and catch glimpses of how they have already been made true in our world and in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
The King Shall Come
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
Martin Luther, without whom the Reformation would likely have stalled, rejected any notion of venerating Mary, the Mother of Jesus, but he did still feel that the “Hail, Mary” prayer – as it is scriptural – was an important one for worship. In our tradition, however, it has fallen more and more into disuse. Today, we begin our prayers with the reminder that it was in the low state of a poor, teenage girl that God saw fit to enter into the world and work for the reconciliation of all creation.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Jesus
In you, Mary, God blesses all creation and shows us that it is in both the giving and receiving of love that we are able to live as humans are created. In you, Mary, God has shown what it is to be blessed – not from the material things of this world, or through our achievement – by simply being seen and known by our creator. In you, Mary, God has entered into creation and experiences all that we experience. As a saint, beloved of God, and example of faith for us to follow, we ask that you attend with us in our prayers to God this day.
Dear Father in Heaven and on Earth, be close to us this day. As our neighbors continue to deal with the winter storm, and others struggle for heat and basic goods, we are aware of just how fragile human life is, how dangerous this good creation can be. Help us to see our blessings, and live as blessings for others in need.
Even as new hope stands on the horizon in the form of two vaccines reaching our people, we see that this health crisis is far from over, and more dangerous than ever. We mourn with families across the country as nearly one percent of the country has perished this year from the illness. We also pray for those responsible for caring for and dealing with this pandemic, from first responders to those walking the halls of power. Be with them and grant them both strength and wisdom.
The winter promises to bring more difficulties for many as more lose jobs, housing, and bills mount. Give us a sense of purpose as a church to stand with those in need during these uncertain times to offer love and compassion while making life a little more bearable.
We turn also to think of the dangers posed by the rampant division and boiling social atmosphere in our culture. Help us to see in our everyday life moments when we can bring your presence to light; where there is potential for conflict, let us be peacemakers. In all that we are and in all that we do, help us carry you into the world, not for our sake, but that your healing presence may be known by all.
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.
Love is so much more than a feeling. Love is a charge, and a firm action in the world. Love is a choice we make to live and breathe for the sake of others, because in doing so we are living the life of Christ. Love is the recognition that our world is held together by something far more powerful than force. Go, and love others for no other reason that it is your nature to do so. And know that as you do, God is being carried into their very presence.
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