Advent 1-November 27, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Isaiah 2.1-5, in a time of violence and despair, the prophet envisions a radical transformation of the nation and the world into a community of peace, and invites us to walk in God’s light.

Psalm 122 imagines people streaming to Jerusalem. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem—holy city of three major religions, and site of much conflict—is to pray for all people, trusting in God’s peace.

Romans 13.11-14
urges us to awaken from sleep, for our salvation is like the morning that is about to dawn. Like Isaiah, Paul invites us to live in God’s light.

In Matthew 24.36-44 Jesus tells us to be awake and alert all the time, for we do not know when God will appear in our lives.

Preaching Thoughts

       The lectionary text for the first Sunday of advent always feels wrong. Our people are getting ready for Christmas. We want the cute little baby, not the end of the world. Nevertheless we realize the world is pretty screwed up, and in need of a major overhaul. It turns out the radical transformation scripture is talking about is just what we need, and just what Christmas will be all about. But first comes the hard work of acknowledging the mess we’ve made, turning our hearts toward God’s promise of a different world, and then… waiting.

Isaiah
       The image of “swords into plowshares” may be God’s promise—but we’re the ones who have to do the actual blacksmithing. What are the swords you need to convert? Probably not actual weapons, though those are included, too. It may include ways of being in conflict, or a desire to conquer or hurt others to get your own way. Maybe your anger is the sword you need to hammer into a new shape. Even anger can be a helpful resource, but not when used as a weapon.

Romans
       Wake up. It’s the most consistent spiritual message in every tradition. The dual action of our ego’s anxieties and society’s is a powerful medicine that lulls our hearts to sleep, closes down our spiritual senses, dulls our awareness. The “works of darkness” aren’t just evil things we plot in secret. They’re all the ways we keep ourselves unaware, the blinders we wear, the ways to dull our sensitivity to the world’s pain and beauty. To wake up is to be fully present to this life, awake to what God is doing, aware of the world around us, with our passions and our creativity heightened. To be awake is to notice keenly, to feel deeply, to interact authentically. The spirit of Advent requires us to be awake to the promises of God, to see them at work in this world even when it doesn’t look like it. With “the eyes of our hearts enlightened,” as Ephesians says.

Matthew
       What a blow, as we’re counting the days till Christmas, for Jesus to say “No one knows the day or hour!” We prefer events that are in our control, subject to our planning. But God’s New Reality will break in on us when we don’t expect it, like a thief in the night. (In fact it probably won’t come on Christmas Eve.) So we have to be ready. We have to be awake. Advent is a time to sharpen our spiritual senses. It’s a different kind of awareness than our ego’s obsession with opportunities to provide for ourselves (“On sale Now!”) and protect ourselves (“They’re taking our jobs!”). The kind of spiritual wakefulness Jesus has in mind is paying attention for signs of God’s coming, being attuned to how grace moves in this world, listening for that “still, small voice” that whispers the Word of belovedness beneath the rush and roar of the world. It’s a quiet, patient way of perceiving, like a doctor listening to a heartbeat, like letting our eyes get used to the dark.

Call to Worship

[See also Lighting the Advent Candle]

Leader: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Eager for the coming of Christ,
let us enter into the mystery of God’s dawning presence among us.
Loving God, we open our hearts to you,
and await your gracious coming.
In the winter darkness we long for your light.
We confess our need for your grace,
for the sin of our lives and the brokenness of this world.
Come, O Lord! May your peace dawn on our world.
Come, O Savior! May your grace be born in our hearts.
Bless the darkness, that we may wait with hope.
Bless the silence, that we may listen for your coming.
Grant us stillness, that with patience and courage
we may prepare room in our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.
Come, O Savior, Come!


Lighting the Advent Candle

[In addition, here is a series of four Advent wreath prayers suitable for Year A.]

1. (Isaiah 5.2-5)
Leader: In days to come peoples shall come and say:
All: Come, let us go up to the mountain of God;
that God may teach us God’s ways and that we may walk in God’s paths.

For God shall judge between many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

2.
Reader: Read Romans 13.11-12
Leader: Light of God, holy dawn, rising in our midst, awaken us to your promise.
All: By your gentle light may we see your hope for the world.
Light of Christ, rising in our hearts, awaken us to your coming.
By your growing light, may we see your presence hidden in all things.
Spirit’s light, rising in our world, awaken us to the gift of hope
By your transforming light, may we se all things with hearts full of hope,
longing for your coming. Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.


3.
Reader: Read Romans 13. 11-14
Leader: This candle represents our longing.
All: We long for deeper faith. We long forGod to come close.
We long to live more fully in harmony with God’s delight.
Awaken your hearts. Let your longing be God’s song in you.
Let your longing be a sign of God’s longing in you.
God of life, what new birth arises by your grace within us?
What new life unfolds by your mercy among us?
We come to listen, and to see.
We open our hearts to the coming of Christ in us and among us in new ways.
Awaken us, God, that by your Spirit we may be ready
for the coming of Christ.


4.
Leader: Lord of light, we kindle this flame as a sign of hope.
All: Even in the darkness, the dawn is upon us,
and our deepest longings lead to you.

Dear Child, prophet of the most high, grant us healing and forgiveness.
By your tender mercy, may your dawn from on high break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of light, in the darkness of this world your dawn is rising. Your love is at work. Waken our spirits. Keep us ready to see you. Open the ears of our hearts, ready to hear you. Speak, for in the dark, we are watching. We are listening. Amen.

2.
Gentle God, the darkness draws in around us. In our hearts, in our communities, in the nation and the world there is mistrust and fear and despair; there is hurt and injustice. Yet you promise your light. You promise you are coming. Ready our hearts, God, for your coming. Help us to see signs of hope. Help us to see the coming of Christ. Amen.

3.
God, we long for more than what is visible in this life. We yearn for the presence of Christ. Come, then, in Word and Sacrament, in prayer and song, in silence and in companionship: come, and be Christ among us. Awaken us to your promise. Alert us to your presence. Revive us with your Word. In the name of Christ, and the grace of your Spirit, we are listening. Amen.

4.
God of Creation, we long for your Word. We yearn for your presence. Come to us in this darkness, speak to us, and bring us your light. Light of Christ, shine on our path; chase away all darkness, and lead us to the heart of God. Amen.

5.
Gracious God, you came to us in Jesus, your Son. As we await his coming again, make ready our hearts to receive your Word made flesh as it appears among us. Bless us, that we may prepare ourselves for your coming in peace. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

God of life,
we confess we are asleep;
oblivious to our sin,
ignorant of your grace.
Awaken us; open our eyes,
to see our sin and brokenness,
to see your forgiveness and healing,
through the gift of Christ Jesus,
to shine with your grace

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Leader: Awaken our hearts, God, to your promise.
Help us to walk in your light.
All: Loving God, you birth new life within us.
With open hearts, we await your coming.

Poetry

Manger

In rough-edged wind,
edge of town,
end of day,
light all used up,
a shed waits, still,
dust settling,
shadows
bedding down for the night,
doors resting on their hinges.
You want to say it’s empty,
but it’s full—
full of silence, of longing,
of waiting,
full of God’s hopes,
full of space for a birthing.

The passion that makes worlds
is still dreaming.
This stable is made of that,
the manger carved, through eons,
of your deepest ache,
this empty space,
this womb,
created by your soul, unerring,
leaning with God toward that realm.

Enlarge its longing in you.
Breathe in.
Let the cupped hands of the manger
hold your heart open
with God’s deepest desires.
The angel song that sounds like sorrow
but feels like joy,
the harmony of longing and confidence,
swells in the waiting silence,
wondering.

Warm wind
blows in through the window.

Reading

O Hands of God
[May be read responsively.]

O Holy Presence, whose love brings all things into being,
        —come, and draw open by your light the ancient blossoms.

O Beloved, radiant with glory in all Creation,
        —come, and awaken us; teach us to see.

O Hands of God, who has opened doors that none could shut,
who has healed and blessed, and none could defy,
        —come, and hold us in your grace.

O King of Gentleness, who knows our sorrow
and yet embraces us with joy,
        —come, and guide our hands in the way of healing.

O Open Eye, who sees us in all truth, and loves us,
        —come, and reveal in us your beauty.

O Light of Justice, whose heart breaks for those who sit in darkness,
        —come, and show us the way of courage and compassion.

O Companion, who makes us all one in your love,
        —come, and kindle in our hearts the spirit of the Beloved.

Eucharistic Prayer

———Sung prayers———
Here are four Eucharistic prayers set to familiar Christmas tunes: “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Rocking, Rocking,” and “What Child Is This.”

“Longing Night,” an original song (see below), includes music for sung Eucharistic responses.

———Spoken prayers———

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

—— #1 ———


God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God of Light, we thank you,
for in the beginning you brought light out of darkness.
In Egypt you condemned the forces of oppression
and brought us out of slavery to freedom.
In the wilderness you fashioned your People.
In the life and death and resurrection of Jesus
you shined light in our lives, light that renews the world.

We rejoice on the light of hope; and therefore with your people
and with all Creation we sing your praise:

Sanctus—

Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved the neglected and healed the broken,
who gathered the outcast and gave hope to the despairing.
Christ is the flesh of your presence and the light of your coming.

[The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

Memorial Acclamation—Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
filled with the light of your presence,
living in hope of your coming.
—Amen—

————— #2 —————

God is with you.
And also with you.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of God.
Let us be wakeful, for the Chosen One
is coming at an unexpected moment.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Holy Mystery, Radiant Darkness,
in the depth of the night, and the failing of our light,
we behold your glory, and we thank you.
In the cold of this season, we sense your warmth
as you wrap yourself around us, and we praise you.
In this darkness you are coming, as you always have,
as in the beginning you drew light out of darkness,
as you brought Israel out of slavery,
and deliver your beloved from all oppression:
still you come to us and deliver us.
Still you provide for us: light in the darkness,
food in the wasteland, love amidst injustice and violence.
Even now you are coming in new ways,
as you renew all of Creation.
We behold your mystery unfold among us,
and we come to your table in awe and gratitude,
and with all Creation we sing your praise.

Sanctus—

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Beloved, whose birth we await,
and whose love we remember.
In love he healed us and fed us and set us free.
He came to heal us of our injustice,
yet by that very injustice he was taken into death.
But in your grace you have raised him from the dead.
And so we await the one who is always present, always coming,
who renews with us in this meal
your covenant always to be with us in love.

—The Blessing and Covenant

As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     —Memorial Acclamation—

In this meal the night is far gone; day is near.
Therefore our out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In our love may we be living signs of your coming,
one in your Spirit, and awake in hope,
trusting that even now you are coming anew,
transforming the world according to your delight.
—Amen—


————— #3 ——————


God is with you.
And also with you.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of God.
Let us be wakeful, for the Chosen One
is coming at an unexpected moment.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Blessed are you, O God, creator of the dark and of the light.
This world is yours, and all that is in it.
You who create us in your image, who call us as your Beloved,
who rescue us from evil and turn us from injustice:
you are present even in the darkness;
even now, you are coming.

Awaken our souls to your coming, Beloved!
Waiting for your appearance,
with all Creation we sing your praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who has come among us bearing your love.
He taught us your ways and walked in your paths.
He opened our eyes and awakened our hearts.

In his love, and in his death and resurrection
you have revealed your covenant to be with us in love.
The night is far gone and the day is near;
in this meal we both hope and remember.


     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,

laying aide the works of the shadows
and wearing the armor of light,
beating our swords into plowshares,
walking in the light of your love.

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem;
and ready for your coming,
and we watch for you, now and in the days to come.
All praise be yours. Alleluia!
     
(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Beholding your presence, we trust your promise. Send us into the world, awake to your grace, shining with your light in the darkness, as signs of your coming, alive with hope, in the name of Christ, who is coming. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Blessed with a taste of the glory of your coming, may we prepare in peace, and wait with the confidence of the angels. Send us now for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name and Spirit of Christ, who is coming. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(All songs with “Advent” tags, of course, but especially these. Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Child of Promise (Original song)

Child of promise, oh, child of hope, prophets spoke of you:
visions treasured but unfulfilled. Shall our dreams come true?
Help us wait for you.

Child of woman, oh, child of God, birthing us anew,
make a room, oh, make a womb, in our hearts for you.
Help us wait for you.

Child of patience, oh, child of pain, suffering ills we do,
heal, forgive and help us be gentle child, like you.
Help us wait for you.

Child of wonder, oh, child of joy, you make all things new.
Re-create us, come again like the morning dew.
Help us wait for you.


Come, O Savior (Original Song)
[May be sung in one piece… or one verse at a time in various points of the service…or used throughout the season of Advent, using one verse each week. As usual, the lyrics of each verse correspond to themes of the week’s lectionary readings.]

Spirit of peace, be born in us.
Help us to walk in your light.
Help us be ready, help us be wakeful.
Give us deep gentleness, and a spirit of peace.
Refrain: Come O Savior, Come, we pray.
Come, O Savior, Come.
Come, O Savior, Come. Amen.

Spirit of wisdom, be born in us.
Grant us the fruit of repentance,
that we no longer will judge with our eyes.
Give us deep vision, God, and a spirit of hope.
Refrain

Spirit of joy, be born in us,
grateful for gifts of your healing:
bodies made whole and a whole new Creation.
Give us deep patience, God, and a spirit of joy.
Refrain

Spirit of holiness, come to us.
Grant us the courage to serve you,
trusting your mystery growing within us.
Give us deep willingness, and a spirit of love.
Refrain


WEEKLY ADVENT THEME RESPONSES

[These songs are designed to be used throughout Advent, using one verse per week. Each is a dialogue between a soloist (or ensemble) and congregation. Each week’s (solo) verse reflects the week’s Lectionary readings, especially in Year A. The congregation’s response remains the same throughout the season. Below are the current week’s lyrics.]

Come, Holy Dawn (Original Song)

Congregation:
Come, morning star, light our way in our darkest night.
Come, light of God, grant us peace, gently shining bright.
Come, holy dawn, sun of love, fill us with your light.

Solo:
Waken now, my people! Morning soon will rise.
Love is working quietly. Open up your eyes.


Come, O Jesus (Original song)

Soloist, introduction:
Rise, O people, awake!
The light of Christ is dawning!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Come, O Jesus, come!

Congregation, chorus:
Dawn on us from above. Raise us up in your love.
Awaken our hope with the day, and lead us in your way.
Come, O Jesus, come! Come, O Jesus, come!

Soloist, verse:

Salvation is near, the day is at hand. Rise and put off the night.
Walk in the light of our God with hope. Awake, and greet the light! (Chorus)


Longing Night (Original song)

Introduction- Cantor:
      Alleluia. Alleluia. Make ready your hearts for the Coming One. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Response- Congregation
     In our deepest longing night, dawn upon us, God of light.
VersesCantor:
     Now is the time to wake from your sleep. The night is far gone; the day is near. Response
    Watch for the unexpected hour. Come, let us walk in the light of God.
Response