Advent – general resources

Christmas Bowl 2017
Christmas Bowl resources, including songs, prayers and Advent Candle litanies are now available online.

Call to worship
God is here
And we are here to worship God.
In our darkness:
You are the God of Light.
In our despair:
You are the God of hope.
In our sadness:
You are the God of joy.
In our turmoil:
You are the God of peace.
In our heartache:
You are the God of love.
We worship you now:
God of everyone! Thanks be to God!
(Source: John Maynard)

Advent Prayer
God of hope,
who brought love
into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.

God of hope,
who brought peace
into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.

God of hope,
who brought joy
into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.

God of hope,
the rock we stand upon,
be the centre,
the focus of our lives always,
and particularly this Advent time.
(Source: John Birch, Faith and worship)

This world is God’s good creation; yet all is not well. We are a broken people. As the year descends into darkness and winter approaches, we feel in our bones the coldness and need of the human family. Evil abounds. Cruelty is policy. Injustice reigns. Racism, greed and sexual violence crowd the news. Hope flickers among dark shadows. We cry to God with Isaiah, “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Isa. 64.1).
But in our longing we do not just gaze at the sky. We get ourselves ready. We don’t just wish; we prepare. We trust God is at work in the midst of the mess with a transforming, life-giving power. Like Mary, we say Yes to that power unfolding within and among us. We become the change we want to see in the world. We become people of peace and gentleness, of love and courage. We become candles shining confidently in the darkness.
The Advent season is a time not just to ramp up to Christmas, but to open up to God. It’s a time to let God’s light spark in us, to let God’s Presence deepen in us. It’s a time of stillness, a time of prayer, a time of opening.
As we wait in the darkness, God’s light dawns in us, and we become people of joy. We are ready for new life. We are ready for Christ to walk into our living rooms. We are ready to bear Christ into the world. We become God’s love, enfleshed, vibrant, and powerful. Though we may fear people’s resistance, we are not the only ones who are crying, “O that you would come!” We bear love and grace and justice into a world that awaits us with hope. Welcome, Advent.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
Click on the link for more resources……

Let us wait as children wait (a series of reflections on Godspace)

Advent Calendar – 40 days of Advent from Nov 15th (general information here)
In the 6th century, the Celtic Christians celebrated Advent during the 40 days before Christmas, as a mirror to the period of Lent before Easter. In this age of  blurring of holy-days and consumerism, starting Advent earlier gives a longer, more intentional preparation for Christ’s coming.
Christmas seems to end abruptly on December 26th in our consumer-culture celebration. Another lost tradition marks the Twelve Days from Christmas to Epiphany.  Epiphany means appearance or manifestation and remembers the Magi visiting Jesus; Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan–the public revelation that he is God’s Son; and the first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.  The period from December 25 to January 6th is an ideal time for reflecting on the Light that has come into the world with the birth of Christ.
(Source: Susan Forshey)

A joy spiral for Advent (Christine Sine).

Magnificat: Canticle of the Turning by Rory Cooney – Irish traditional tune with words based on the Magnificat

Advent water wreath (particularly for southern hemisphere, and Australia
Using water as the entry point for the advent themes, especially suitable for the southern hemisphere as summer approaches and for the season of drought in many places.
http://ctm.uca.edu.au/childrenfamilies/files/2012/07/watery_advent_wreath.pdf

Christmas Bowl Resources, including songs, prayers and Advent Candle litanies here.

From the depths we cry by Claire McKeever-Burgett
This is particular to events in the USA and can be easily adapted to local contexts. It is a lament and written in the context of Advent 2014 (can be used in place of prayers of confession). (Written in memory of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and all other black boys and men, black girls and women killed by those who purportedly exist to keep our communities safe.)
We hear the cry of Eric Garner’s widow: “Hell, no. The time for remorse for the death of my husband was when he was yelling to breathe.”
We hear the cry of Michael Brown’s mother: “We heard this and it was just like, like I had been shot. Like you shoot me now — just no respect, no sympathy, nothing. This could be your child. This could be anybody’s child.”
We hear the cry of Rachel in Ramah, one of deep anguish and bitter weeping, refusing to be comforted because her children are no more. (Jeremiah 31: 15)[1]
We hear the cry of Maya Angelou: “It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.
We hear the cry of Rev. Jeff Hood: “I keep thinking about Eric Garner saying, ‘I can’t breathe.- It made me think — that’s what Jesus is saying in this culture. Jesus is fundamentally connected to the marginalized and right now Jesus is saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I think the church should be saying the same thing — that we can’t breathe in this culture and we have to change this culture in order for us to have breath and exist in this society.”
We hear the cry of the prophets: “Repent, for the kin-dom of heaven is come near! Prepare the way of the Lord, and make the paths right!”
We hear the cries of each other[2]:
How do we live in a world that kills unarmed black boys?
How do we raise our children in world that sets murderers free?
What does our privilege afford us, and what does our privilege call us to do?
A silence is kept
Cries of silence, cries of pain rise up like incense before the Holy One as we sit, as we wait.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, God hears the voices of grieving mothers and marginalized prisoners and oppressed captives.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, God attends our needs for peace, for healing, for justice, for love.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we sit together, and we wait.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we trust and we live.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we sing a new song in spite of our fear.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy a child is born.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy we creatively and powerfully act.
A silence is kept
Amen.
[1] If we are to be so bold, someone could actually yell a cry here. It is dramatic, but I think it’s appropriate and adds texture to the true lamentation – or, invite a grieving mother to read this line about Rachel.
[2] Here, I would invite people to voice their questions, their cries, their laments. I would place a few in the congregation as “plants” with something already prepared, but invite people to spontaneously speak aloud a one sentence question or cry or lament.

Let us practice being ready
It doesn’t matter whether or not you can have faith;
whether or not you are cynical or despairing, hope-filled or hope-less:
what matters to God is simply that you are here.
We are entering the time of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.
Advent reminds us that if God is to be born again
in the most ordinary parts of our world and our lives
that we need prepare for it.
We need to make the space in our lives where love might be born.
Welcome to this tiny corner of a harsh and dark world.
Together, let us practice being ready in the faith that Christ will come.    Cheryl Lawrie

Learning to walk in the dark (Barbara Brown Taylor)
‘Through darkness, we begin to see the world and sense God’s presence around us in new ways, guiding us through things seen and unseen, and teaching us to find our footing in times of uncertainty. Like seeds buried in the ground, we will find how darkness is essential for our own growth and flourishing’.
‘I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.
Recognising our tendency to associate all that is good with light, and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness, BBT asks whether God doesn’t work at night too?
In Advent, themes of light and dark are explored, often with light trumping the darkness. But maybe this duality is unhelpful. At Pilgrim, we are doing a study of BBT’s book as our  Advent study this year. The wonderful Helen Wiltshire has penned some Advent introductions for our services in 2014 which will deliberately juxtapose hope with its opposite, love with its opposite etc and thereby explore the dark shadows, and discover God is in the darkness too.
Advent thoughts.HelenWiltshire.2014

Smuggling God into the world inside your own body
In a sermon about Mary’s response to God, Barbara Brown Taylor once said:
“If you decide to say no, you simply drop your eyes and refuse to look up until you know the angel has left the room and you are alone again. Then you smooth your hair and go back to your spinning or your reading or whatever it is that is most familiar to you and pretend that nothing has happened…. Or you can set your book down and listen to a strange creature’s strange idea. You can decide to take part in a plan you did not choose, doing things you do not know how to do for reasons you do not entirely understand. You can take part in a thrilling and dangerous scheme with no script and no guarantees. You can agree to smuggle God into the world inside your own body.
From “Mothers of God ” in Gospel Medicine

Reflection on consumerism and the realm of God
on Sojourners, by Scott Bessenecker
“The gospel ought to consume us; instead we have turned it into a consumable. I believe the good news about the reign of Christ over the all creation, the invitation to love our enemies, the vision of communities beating their weapons into agricultural implements, has been turned into a product. For many the gospel has been reduced to a privatized salvific experience purchased through a ministry outlet mall – the church dressed up like a coffee shop selling cups of Pumpkin Spice Saviour. When the gospel is reduced to a highly individualized and highly privatized experience, we lose the larger picture of God’s plan to make all things new. We see our part in God’s mission exclusively through the lens of producing a convert, not restoring the cosmos. If the gospel were only about words, then I suppose it could be wrapped in packaging and sold at gospel outlet malls. But its nature is cosmic and its purveyors are organic. It defies the easy reduction to a sales pitch. If the mission of God is the renewal and reconciliation of all things – people, planet, and powers – then the people of God need to be about the activities of God”.

Who’s birthday is it anyway? Advent Studies by Walter Brueggeman

A shelf cloud passes over Botany Bay at? Kyeemah today.Sydney storm2
(Storm that passed over Sydney, March 5th, 2014)

Advent waiting goes both ways
Life involves a lot of waiting, both ways. Waiting in the check-out. Waiting in the doctor’s office. Waiting for the traffic light to change. Waiting for test results. Waiting for nine months for birth. Parents waiting for children to grow up and act more mature. Teachers waiting for students to finally grasp a concept. Waiting for those we love to be touched and transformed by that love.
At this time of year, we‘re especially reminded of it. Christmas involves a season of waiting. We hear talk about waiting for a saviour to come and free us from whatever is holding us back. Waiting for God to intervene and take our lives in a different direction. Waiting for dawn to arrive and end the long and lonely night we often feel in the pit of our soul. When will the waiting end?
Unfortunately, religious practices can degenerate into nothing more than waiting. We wait for God to respond to a prayer and make things go the way we want. We wait for God to right a wrong. Wait for God to set things straight. Wait for God to change the world. Change our lives. Please!
But wait! What if we‘ve got it backward? To revisit that waiting-goes-both-ways thing: Instead of us waiting on God, what if God is waiting on us?
John Dominic Crossan poses that question in his book The Power of Parable. He notes something that’s obvious: Jesus could be very impatient. He wasn’t one to just sit back and wait for things to change. As Crossan sums it up: “You have been waiting for God, while God has been waiting for you. You want God’s intervention, while God wants your collaboration. God‘s kingdom is here, but only insofar as you accept it, enter it, live it, and thereby establish it.”
You want the world to be a better place? Do something to make it so. And it doesn’t have to be a spectacularly grand act. Something little is fine — God works through the little things. But what’s important is to live each moment in this spirit. This moment is a gift.
If all we do is sit and wait for things to change, then we’re like people trapped in a perpetual state of Advent. We never get to our own Christmas morning. We do nothing more than wait.
Source: Joe Kay, on the Sojourners blog (adapted)

Advent prayers – ‘Faith and Worship’ website and Facebook
Link to many prayers written by John Birch for Advent here. His website has a plethora of prayer resources! (He also has a Facebook page where resources are posted).

Offering invitation
God is at work in the world, renewing, remaking, resurrecting, bringing hope through the faith, the gifts, and the work of the church. We trust in God, and together we work for peace and justice through God’s Spirit. Let us rejoice in our God-given opportunity to share in God’s work. The offering is collected.
Offering Prayer
Thank you, God of Love, for the promise of this season. We are grateful for the generosity aroused in us by Christ’s coming into the world. May these gifts represent a new spirit of joyous sharing among us, for the sake of all your children everywhere. Amen.

(Luke 1.76-79)
You, child of God, will be transparent to divine presence.
You will open doors for people into the Holy.
You will awaken people to the embrace of the Beloved,
enfolding them in forgiveness.
By God’s tender mercy
heaven will dawn on us,
giving light to those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
guiding our hands and feet
in the way of peace.                        Steve Garnaas-Holmes, www.unfoldinglight.net

prayer tree 2prayer tree 1

Prayer Tree during Advent 2007 at Spicer uniting Church St Peters South Australia.
Each week over the Advent season people wrote their prayers onto shapes that were added to the tree. Each week a different focus for the prayer & a different shape and colour. Each week the tree grew in its fullness and richness.

Mary, did you know? Youtube clip (could be used for Advent 4 with a focus on Mary)

Opening prayer
We come, O God, with adoration and praise, as well as thanksgiving, to you. Our anticipation grows as we begin the journey to the day of great celebration of the birth of your Christ. Open our hearts that we may truly receive the gift of your Son, and know that the joy of life is found with you. Amen.

A ‘within’ God, a ‘without’ God
Inspire comes from the Latin word meaning to breathe in. Too much religion is ‘out-breathing’ or talking at God or just talking God at other people. It isn’t a wonder then, that religion is often uninspiring for many people, (and sometimes often also for many who practice it – not that some are often honest enough to admit it). Too often religious practice has little to do with listening to God or listening for God. To listen for God or to God is an act of faith. To listen for God is also often a great risk, because we might hear God, and that is usually profoundly disturbing. It is not only disturbing because it is not what we are expecting, but usually because God calls us beyond ourselves into loving service of others which requires us to move beyond our comfort zones and enter into applied grace and compassion.
Professor David Tacey, a well-known Australian spokesperson on faith and spirituality, talks about how we need a “within God, as well as a without God.” This is what many Christians seek to focus on in the season of Advent, which is the lead up to Christmas. We seek to be inspired by God, through listening for what God may be calling us to and to celebrate the birth of Christ, which brings us a ‘within’ God – that is God who is within our understanding and who is within our experience as humans. That God might enter within the meagre grasp of our comprehension is inspiring. This is why Advent is a season to do some thinking about things and may we be inspired in the process. (Jon Humphris)

Dostoyevsky
Dostoyevsky got it right… “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!” Out of grief comes hope… but it’s not a linear kind of thing, where one moves from a state of grief to a state of hope. Rather, both circles move together… a little grief, a pinch of hope… much like the moon gives way to the sun gives way to the moon every single day. Hope doesn’t cancel grief, and grief doesn’t cancel hope – in a way, a strange kind of way, they actually compliment each other. Not as yin and yang, but as purple… the mixing of red and blue. Pastor Mike Rayson

Be Born in Me music video Be Born In Me.Music video lyrics

Resources for Advent 2C
RCL readings: Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Call to worship
Now is the time, let us pause.
As we wait, may we hear the voice of God.
Now is the time, let us watch.
In our homes, at our work, even while waiting in line
–may we see the face of Christ.
Now is the moment, let us prepare our hearts.
In our words, in our hearts, in all we say and do
–may God’s extravagant love shine through.
(c) Nancy Gowler Johnson, First Christian Church of Puyallup, WA, USA

Invocation
God beyond time and space, take this moment of worship and bless it.
May the grace experienced in this place be multiplied to overflowing so that your whole world sees the light of your love.

God of new surprises, take each of us here and bless us.
Create in us clean hearts, refresh our spirits, and transform our whole beings, until we reflect your love and compassion through and through.
In the name of Emmanuel, God with Us, the one who comes to us even now, Amen.
(c) Nancy Gowler Johnson, First Christian Church of Puyallup, WA, USA

Advent 1C

Bruce Sanguin writing on Apocalyptic HopeApocalyptic Hope.Bruce Sanguin

Jim Burklo, Mary’s rebirth – living into who we are called to be
Mary’s Rebirth.Jim Burklo

Compilation of resources for Advent 1C by Christine Longhurst (definitely recommend checking out her blog for more resources).

Call to worship and lighting of the Advent wreath/candle
It is a very long time since a young Jewish woman was surprised by a heavenly visitation,
and three wise men set off into the night to follow a star and look for a child.
But these are the stories that shape our faith, and we turn to them once again
to prepare for our annual pilgrimage through Advent to Christmas.
So as we set our feet on the journey we light a candle to honour their stories, and to guide us along the path of our heart’s deepest longings.
Let us make this year’s journey with courage and with hope,
for the One who waits on the horizon is calling our name. (first candle is lit)
Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality

A prayer about promises (Jeremiah 33)
God of truth and justice, it seems that the world is full of promises. As soon as we switch on the television the deluge begins: “buy this product and look 10 years younger,” “eat this food and lower your cholesterol,” “place your insurance with us and be safe for ever!”

And when we open our newspapers the hollow promises of our political leaders seek to persuade us that if we vote for them all our troubles will be over, and a new era of justice and mercy will prevail.

Even our own promises ring hollow in our ears, promises we make at the turning of the year, or in our prayers, or to our family and friends: all the good things we say we want to do, but then, amidst the pressure, allow to slide away.

So in the light of humankind’s tendency to make claims to ensure popularity and profit,
or to try to appear better than we are, we turn to you, God of life, and remember your promises, and place our hope and faith in you. Amen.
Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality

A meditation on portions of Psalm 25 for two voices
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust: do not let me be put to shame:
do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Against all that undermines my faith, I will stand strong,
and place my trust in you

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation for you I wait all day long.

Complex paths and choices lie open before me! I am constantly diverted and distracted.
Help me in all the small daily decisions to be flowing with the Spirit that shapes my life.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth. or my transgressions. According to your steadfast love, remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

There are many things in my life I regret, and sometimes memories of the past prevent me living fully in the present. But when you, God of my life, look at me, you see my potential for goodness, and forget the past. So I will hold the knowledge of your grace before me, and go confidently into this new day, and the days ahead.

I wait for you, O God. I wait for you. I wait for you (both voices)
Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality

Prayer of Confession/Words of Assurance – Advent

Call to Reconciliation
God is the witness to our lives, the One who sees all we do and fail to do, the One who hears what we say, and don’t. God is also the One who cleanses us, who makes us pure, who forgives us. Join me as we pray to our God:
Refining God, it is not easy for us to admit we are not a blameless people. We have trouble believing the promises you have made. We find ourselves captive to emotions and lusts which stun us, but doubt you can save us. We prefer the shadowy streets of the world, rather than walking in your Light. 
Forgive us, Faithful One.

May the Light of Christ show us your way;

may the Love of Christ overflow from our lives to others;

may the Life of Christ be our model as we seek to be your people.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Do you feel it? God’s tender mercy rests on you, heals you, transforms you.
Do you see it? God’s Light breaks into our lives, and shows us the way.
Renewed and made whole,
we see the path God has prepared for us— the way of peace, the way of hope, the way of grace, the way of service. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Source: Thom Shuman, http://lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.ca/

Resources for Advent 4

Collect for Advent 4:
Let us pray:
God of the impossible and unlikely,
God of pregnant old ladies and virgins,
you turn our conventional world upside down,
where the hungry are fed,
and arrogant rich are turned away.
Instill in us unthinkable marvels.
Make us pregnant with wonder
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.  Amen    (c) Bob Eldan

Call to worship/candle lighting
We light this candle because we have heard a promise of peace
We light this candle because we wait for the coming of justice
We light this candle because we long for the presence of love
We light this candle because we need the rumour of hope.
We light this candle because we have heard of the birth of the Christ-child
and we pray God’s realm might come near. (Cheryl Lawrie)
We gather as those who carry the rumour of peace
and the truth of love into a world longing for light.
We gather as those who pray for the justice another is waiting for,
who speak of the hope another needs to breathe.

Prayers for others Advent 4
Eternal God, you are love, love made clear in the life of Jesus.
You come:
In the hope kindled that keeps us from despair
In the peace shared that encourages comfort
In joy that makes hearts sing
You are near, very near

You come:
In the sudden shock of ‘aha’ moments
In the laughter of a child
In times of spontaneous affection
You are near, very near

Please come:
To the ones who have given up hope
To the depressed and the despairing
To the war torn places and the conflicted hearts
Come near loving God, come very near.

Please come:
To people who are worrying
To the sick and to the dying
To those who are sobbing
Come near loving God, come very near.

Please come:
To the ones whose faith is strong
To the ones who look for you
To the many who worship you this day
Come near loving God, come very near.
Amen                Janice Freeston

A Prayer at the Culmination of Advent
God of hope, peace and love,
We wait
We remember
We ready ourselves
We pray.

We pray hope.
Hope for the hopeless
Hope for the hopeful
Hope for all people
Hope for healing
Hope for meaning
Hope for peace
Hope for now
Hope for the future
Hope for ever

We pray peace
Peace for people
Peace for all places
Peace for all times
Peace for all situations
Peace for all circumstances
Peace in our hearts
Peace in our minds
Peace in our lives
Peace in everything

We pray joy
Joy for the young
Joy for the old
Joy for all people
Joy and happiness
Joy in sadness
Joy in work
Joy in play
Joy in everything

We pray Iove
Love for others
Love for self
Love for family
Love for friends
Love for neighbours
Love for strangers
Love for enemies
Love for the lonely
Love for the lost
Love for those sick
Love for those left out
Love for everyone
Love for the world
Love for life
Love for you

We pray Christ
Christ who brings hope
Christ who brings peace
Christ who brings joy
Christ who brings love
Christ for world
Christ in the world
Christ for all people
Christ in all people
Christ for our lives
Christ in our lives
Christ who is the Way
Christ who is God
Christ who is with us –
Always. Amen. (c) Jon Humphries

Making Room for the Christ One
(A meditation for Advent …or any other time)
There is space in my life, Lord.
Come and enter in.
There is room in my heart, Lord.
Please fill it with your compassion.
There is an expanse in my mind, Lord.
Expand your Kingdom throughout it.
There is an emptiness in my soul, Lord.
Pour in your meaning and fulfillment.
There is space in my life, Lord, if l just can clear out the mess and clutter of my material existence.
Come Lord, dwell within me.
Occupy my living with your loving purpose.
This I pray.
May it be so.
Always. Amen. (c) Jon Humphries

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.

This entry was posted in Advent. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Advent – general resources

  1. Pingback: COCU3B.Advent 3B.17th December 2017 | pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au

Leave a Reply