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Bulletin – Sunday, December 6, 2020

Advent 2 – Peace in the Wilderness

Candle Lighting

We light this candle of peace this day knowing that there are so many places in the world where peace is but a dream. As we move towards the coming of love incarnate into the world, let us work towards peace in our lives and in the world, that we might open our hearts to you so that the peace that lives in you might come into our lives.

God of Advent, You have called us together to be peacemakers. During this Advent season help us to be attentive to one another. Be with us to comfort us and allow us to bring comfort to others. Let our hearts be filled with your peace as we flatten the rough places and straighten the curved paths in our lives and community. We pray in the name of the one whose coming we await, Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Response:

We light this candle for Peace.
Await the new life within.
May our hearts now live each day,
So Peace can find a way,
So Peace can find a way.

Call To Worship

One: The time of waiting and watching is here! Are you ready?
All: We are waiting for God of peace to open our hearts.

One: God of all peace come to us this day to free us from our burdens, to bring peace to a world that longs for something more.
All: We are ready to receive the precious blessings of God.

One: Come, let us worship God who loves us dearly.
All: Let us praise God for God’s blessings in our lives. AMEN.

Opening hymn – VU #18 – “There’s a Voice in the Wilderness”

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places where God, our God, may go!

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
Like grass our works decay;
The power and pomp of nations
Shall pass, like a dream, away.

But the world of our God endureth,
Whose arm is ever strong;
God stands in the midst of nations, and soon will right the wrong.
God shall feed the flock like a shepherd, the lambs so gently hold;
To pastures of peace will lead them, and bring them safe to fold.

Prayer of Approach

God of peace, we look at our world today and all we see are wilderness places. In our lament we cry “Help! We need some peace right now! We need to stop rattling sabres at each other and try to talk things out!” “Where is God in all of this mess?”, we cry. About the only response we can offer is “God is right here, in our midst, working for peace and justice.” We forget to look for you in acts of justice and kindness, in moments of reaching out to help without expecting something in return – there is where you dwell, God. In times when people feel lonely and marginalized, when they are lost and alone, there you are, God, extending the embrace of welcome and fellowship.

Yet, Holy and loving God, we so often have dwelt in darkness and preferred it to the light; we have been proud of our accomplishments and despaired over our shortcomings. Smooth down the mountains of our pride, and lift up the valleys of our doubts. Open a path in the wilderness of our lives that we might find our way to you again, find our way to peace. Refine us and prepare us once again for life in your kingdom. Amen.

Sung Response:

Breathe into this moment of peace
With courage to let go, daring to dream.
For the days are surely coming when we’ll rise –
Strong together once again in peace.

Words of Assurance

For the wilderness places in which we walk, the streets we roam, the paths we cross, we know that you guide our feet, take us to places, where you would go.

You continue to pour the blessings of your mercy and forgiveness down on us. Give us words that you would use, that in this Advent season of promise and preparation, we might point the way with John the Baptist to the coming Messiah, to the greatest of your blessings to be shared with all the world. Amen.

Time for All Ages

Response – MV #33

Jesus came bringing us peace,
Jesus came bringing us peace,
Jesus came bringing us peace,
Hallelujah forever more!

Scripture

Isaiah 40: 1 – 11

1    Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
2    Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
    that she has served her term,  that her penalty is paid,
    that she has received from the LORD’S hand
    double for all her sins.
3    A voice cries out:    “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4    Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
5    Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
6    A voice says, “Cry out!”    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
    All people are grass,  their constancy is like the flower of the field.
7    The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
8    The grass withers, the flower fades;  but the word of our God will stand forever.
9    Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;
    lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
    lift it up, do not fear;  say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10    See, the Lord GOD comes with might,  and his arm rules for him;
    his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
11    He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.

Mark 1: 1 – 8

1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
    “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way;3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with£ water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Meditation – Peace in the wilderness of this time!

Anthem – Every Valley

Communion

As we come to this table,
we are reminded that this is the table of Jesus Christ,
a banquet prepared for everyone.
All who seek to be nourished and sustained in the journey of faith,
all who seek wholeness and compassionate paths to peace and justice,
are welcome here.  

God be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift our hearts in prayer.

Let us give thanks to God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.

Let us pray:

(The following prayer was inspired by “Blessed are you, gracious God…” by William Kervin and Lillian Perigoe in Celebrate God’s Presence, page 276. Used with permission.)

Blessed are you, Breath of peace, Giver of all life,
Source of love that knows no boundaries.
Your song of wisdom rang out before the world began;
throughout the ages, your song of liberation has impregnated us with your hope for a world where: those considered last and least are first and most;
violence is overcome by the power of your ancient love; and,
all siblings work together for peace.
You bring our longings to birth, and send prophets to awaken us to your approaching Advent among us.
We thank you for those who, like Mary,  have the strength and courage         to give birth to your love in the world; for those who, like the shepherds, dare to seek out the Child of Bethlehem; for those who, like the wise ones, actively challenge violent and oppressive powers.
We praise you that your everlasting light is shown to us
         in womb and tomb,
         in cradle and cross,
         in tenderness and compassion.

We join in the Advent prayer of all your people,

“O come, Emmanuel.”

And, as we wait and watch for your coming among us,
we proclaim your goodness.

All sing: Sanctus — “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (Voices United 1)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lowly exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

At this time, we also remember
all with whom you would have us share your feast.

We pray for all who are in sorrow or in pain…
all who are ill or alone…
all who are close to our hearts…(prayer list)
all our sisters who live with fear, oppression, or hunger…
all whose lives have been blighted by violence, racism, or poverty…
for all whom the world counts as last and least.

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

We pray for the church and its many ministries,
for nations as they strive for peace and justice,
for an end to violence against women.

God of hope, make this bread the means of our rebuilding,
this wine the medium of our transformation,
this table the foundation of our renewal,
and this community the place of our rebirth.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
O bid our sad divisions cease,
And be for us the Prince of Peace.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.  Amen.

At this time, we remember Jesus,
Who on the night before he died,
took a loaf of bread, gave you thanks, broke it, and said,
“Take and eat; whenever you do this, remember me.”

Likewise, after supper, he took the cup, saying,
“This is the new covenant; remember me.”

Gracious God, Breath of peace,
Source of love,
we pray for your Spirit.

Make us, while many, one.
Make us, though broken, whole.
Make us, despite death, alive.

And so we pray:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

And so we join with our siblings around the world in the prayer of Jesus:…

SHARING THE BREAD AND CUP

The body of Christ,
the Bread of life.

The lifeblood of Christ,
the cup of blessing.

Let us eat and drink together for our strengthening in the faith,
and for the sake of the world.

Communion is served

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

We thank you, God, for breaking into our world
and pouring into our lives and our experiences.

We thank you, God, for this meal of thanksgiving
and the stories of love, grace, and hope that it tells. Amen.

Hymn – MV #173 – “Put Peace Into Each Other’s Hands”

Put peace into each other’s hands and like a treasure hold it,
Protect it like a candle flame, with tenderness enfold it.

Put peace into each other’s hands with loving expectation;
Be gentle in your words and ways, in touch with God’s creation.

Put peace into each other’s hands like bread we break for sharing;
Look people warmly in the eye; our life is meant for caring.

Reach out in friendship, stay with faith in touch with those around you.
Put peace into each other’s hands; the Peace that sought and found you.

Benediction

Can you be a voice crying in the wilderness?

Can you proclaim that God is active in the world?

As people who are being changed, we go into a world that is being changed.

Ready to share the Good News that the long expected Jesus is coming, that we are being freed from whatever binds us.

Glory be to God! Who walks with us, sings with us, and struggles with us, each and every day.  Amen

Response – (tune VU 36)

God, dismiss us with your blessing;
Fill our hearts with joy and peace;
Let us each, your love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace;
O refresh us, O refresh us
Travelling through the wilderness.

Categories: General News, Sunday Bulletin and Announcements, Worship