COCU1A.Advent1A.1Dec2019

Readings
Isaiah 2:1-5 A prophecy of the days when all people will seek to learn God’s ways, and God will teach them justice and peace; and an invitation to walk in God’s light.
Psalm 122 A song of celebration for Jerusalem, the place of worship, the place where God’s people are taught and led by God, and a place for which the Psalmist prays prosperity and peace.
Romans 13:11-14  Believing in the soon coming of God’s day of salvation, Paul encourages the believers to live lives of morality, peace and modesty.
Matthew 24:36-44 Because we do not know the day or time when Christ will come, Jesus encourages the believers to be ready at all times.
See also Advent 1B and Advent 1C

Resources:
Textweek
Singing from the Lectionary (2016 entry)
Sacredise
Church of Scotland
By the Well (NEW): A preacher’s guide to the lectionary

Various resources from Wild Goose Publications may help with planning for Advent and Christmas – books, ebooks, and downloads.

advent-elit-selection

“Through Advent we experience a profound sense of the meaning of history. We rediscover the beauty of all being on a journey: the Church, with her vocation and mission, and the whole of humanity, nations, civilizations, cultures, all on a journey along the paths of time.”
Pope Francis

Acknowledgement of land

Call to worship
Romans 13: 11-14 and Matthew 24: 36-44
We are called to wake from sleep, to wake up and hear,
to wake up and see.
What has the Lord to show to us?
A new life, a new world,
a different set of priorities,
freedom from the tyranny of desiring and acquiring.
Wake up, wake up!
Hear the invitation
that echoes down the centuries.
Welcome the Way of Christ and find freedom.
Not when the mountains shake, or the seas roar,
or the clouds part to reveal you, Holy One,
but here and now,
on this one ordinary day,
we will wait and watch
for you will surely come to us. Amen.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

On this first Sunday of advent,
The cold world stands silent;
Silent to injustice,
Silent to the destruction of creation,
Silent to the tears of the innocent,
Silent to those whose hearts are broken.
Come Emmanuel into this cold dark world,
and may your love,
melt the hearts of your children
and bring hope of new life.
(Source: Church of Scotland Diaconate Facebook post 2019)

Opening Responses
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…. (Is. 64,1)
For your people watch and wait for your coming
We long for justice, we yearn for peace
Yet we know our own complicity with evil
Fear and hope contend within us
Through our tears we seek your face
We are all your people, the work of your hand
Give us patience to wait, strength to watch and faith to pray ‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down’.
Closing Responses
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down
On that day the stars will fall from heaven
and the powers will be shaken

But we do not know when the time will come
So we watch and wait, and gather and give
Something is happening, someone is coming
We will prepare for a revolution,
we will be awake to the signs of transformation,
we will watch for the day of the Lord to come

(Source: Kathy Galloway)

Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus Christ,
come into our hearts as light:
Make plain what is hidden in the shadow,
and give us such joy in receiving you
that we long to be rid of all that keeps us from you.
A silence is kept
Lord Jesus make us people of the light,
until in your glorious presence
darkness is driven away forever. Amen.
(Source: www.alternativity.org.uk)

Meditation based on Matthew 24: 36-44 A disciple reflects
(The story is read from Scripture first, followed by the meditation).
We had wanted to have the facts, to know what to look out for. And as usual he spoke in riddles, confusing us even further. Why is it so hard to understand the ways of God?
By this stage of the journey we were pretty tired, a bit like you feel at the end of the year; ready to take a break from all that is going on but with a sense it’s not over yet and you have to keep going. As we’d neared Jerusalem Jesus had become more enigmatic, speaking of things that sounded urgent but which felt like they were hard to grasp hold of.
He seemed different now, from the Jesus who’d taken us round the Galilean countryside, teaching and healing. There’d been a turning point and he’d brought us to Jerusalem to face goodness knows what. He’d already stirred up the authorities and for all the lips that praised him there were others that whispered threats and warnings.
So we weren’t too pleased when he didn’t seem interested in us showing him the various parts of the Temple, but muttered something about stones being thrown down. It was a relief when we had dragged ourselves up the Mount of Olives and found a private moment to put our own questions to him.
We wanted some clarity. When would the Temple tumble down, and what signs would indicate the end of the age to us?
Perhaps we hoped it would soon all be over, all the tiredness and our anxieties about the tensions that were building. We wanted him to sort out Jerusalem, ensure peaceful times for Israel, bring an end to the current age. And what we do get, “You will hear of wars … they will hand you over to be tortured …false messiahs and false prophets will arise … And, oh yes, do not be alarmed.” (Where have we heard that before, “Be alert, but not alarmed!”)
Just as we hoped he was getting to the point he said that no-one knew the day or the hour when the Son of Man would come with power and glory. No details, no timelines, no plan for us to follow. Just “stay awake.”
When you feel tired after a long journey, or a long year, and someone tells you to stay awake – and he said it several times – it leaves you feeling a bit flat.
So, I ask you, you who have also tried to follow Him, how do you understand His call to stay awake, to watch, to be alert, to read the signs of the times?
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

Prayers of intercession
Preceded by the reading of Psalm 122
We pray, O God,
along with the Psalmist, for peace in Jerusalem and in the Middle East.
For the joy experienced by so many
when their feet finally
stand within the gates
of the Old City
there is all the pain
of those who cannot any longer
stand on the land that once was their home.
For the joy
of entering sacred sites
and being filled with awe
that Jesus was in this place, there is all the turmoil
of walls and fences,
security checks, armed soldiers, bomb threats
and stone throwing.
We pray, O God,
along with the Psalmist
for the peace of Jerusalem.
May this apex of religious fervour,
this ancient land so many have claimed, be turned from a cauldron of hatred into a place of peace and community.
In the name of Christ, in the name of Christ, Amen.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

Prayers for Others
Lord Jesus, our hope and our help,
we bring to you our prayers for the world:
In the countries where people live in fear, we pray for God’s mercy;
in the countries where children are hungry, we pray for God’s mercy;
in the countries where justice is hard to find, we pray for God’s mercy.
Mention places in the world which have featured in this week’s news.
We wait and watch for the answer to our prayers:
Your Kingdom come,
yes, come Lord Jesus.
On our church, seeking to serve you in this community,
we pray for God’s blessing;
on our church, in its joy and in its failings,
we pray for God’s blessing;
on our church, one with Christians the world over,
we pray for God’s blessing.
Mention events in the life of the church that need our prayer.
We wait and watch for the answer to our prayers:
Your Kingdom come,
yes, come Lord Jesus.
For ourselves, in the changes and chances of life, we pray for God’s grace;
for ourselves, especially those whose health is frail,
we pray for God’s grace;
for ourselves, that we may know love the length of our days,
we pray for God’s grace.
Mention people known to the congregation in particular need.
We wait and watch for the answer to our prayers:
Your Kingdom come,
yes, come Lord Jesus.
Amen.
(Source: www.alternativity.org.uk)

Offering
Until poverty has ended,
until broken lives are mended,
we come with these our offerings.
As a humble act of praise
to the God of endless grace,
we come with these our offerings.
Until justice is restored,
until Jesus comes as Lord,
we come with these our offerings.
(Source: www.alternativity.org.uk)

Benediction
In the name of the One who created and stands by the Earth and its people; in the name of the One who walked its roads and embodied Good News; in the name of the One who descended with gifts and with power –
go out into this coming week to know and love God,
to learn from and follow Jesus,
and to feel in the depths of your being the movements of the Spirit. Amen. 
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

Dedication
We dedicate ourselves:
to be a people of faith,
believing in one God – Father, Son and Spirit;
to be a people of sacrifice,
giving of ourselves so that others might live;
to be a people of trust,
rejecting cynicism and refusing despair;
to be a people of prophecy,
holding out Good News to a weary world;
to be a people of hope,
waiting expectantly for the coming of a Saviour;
until we see Jesus face to face.

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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