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

Singing from the Lectionary (2016 entry)
Church of Scotland
By the Well (NEW): A preacher’s guide to the lectionary
ALTERnativity download, Starters – Advent 1

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


“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)

An advent creed
It is not true
that creation and the human family
are doomed to destruction and loss – 
This is true:
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish
but have everlasting life;
It is not true
that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction – 
This is true:
I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
It is not true
that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever – 
This is true:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
It is not true
that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world – 
This is true:
To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
It is not true
that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church
before we can be peacemakers – 
This is true:
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions
and your old men shall have dreams.
It is not true
that our hopes for liberation of humankind,
of justice, of human dignity of peace
are not meant for this earth and for this history – 
This is true:
The hour comes, and it is now,
that the true worshipers shall worship God
in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope,
even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ—the light of the world.
(Source: Allan Boesak)

Call to worship
Let us go up to the mountain of life
and see another dream for the future. 
Our God always offers something new – 
a vision which will expand our sight
towards the coming again of love and peace
Let us place our feet on a higher way
so that we my stand and look for the signs of Christ. 
In all eternity, God is spreading out
a prophetic view before us. 
We may see an unexpected promise of good,
one which inspires in us a renewal of hope
(Source: Words for Worship 2010)

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)

Responsive prayer
Patient God, your people waited over many years:
Through defeat, exile and restoration, they looked to what might be. 
Patient God, your people waited over many years: 
In the words of the prophets, the ministrations of the priests, they looked to what might be. 
Patient God, your people waited over many years: 
In the sacred Scriptures, they were confronted by your truth so they looked to what might be

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.

Prayer of Confession
O God, we know there are times
when we do not love with enough anticipation. 
We become immersed in old habits and cultures
and fail to search for what is surprising and new. 
We stay on the plains of life
instead of climbing to the mountain tops of hope. 
A time for silent reflection. 
Forgive us, Jesus Christ. 
Lift us up again and give us a glimpse
of a different view for our next days, we pray. 
Sometimes we push away the ideas of those
who challenge what we have always been doing. 
We resist being called upon to go in another direction
when it is not what we had planned. 
We cannot imagine that it will lead us
towards the place where you are born. 
A time for silent reflection. 
Forgive us Jesus Christ. 
Lift us up again and give us a glimpse
of a different view for our next days, we pray. 

Words of Assurance
Love is always waiting to be found among us in Christ Jesus. 
It will surprise us with its faithfulness and kindness. 
On this day, we are forgiven. 
Thanks be to God.
(Source, Words for Worship 2010)

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.

Advent Prayer of Intercession
Eternal God, Sustainer and enlivener,
In your hands you hold the gifts of hope and love, plenty and peace.
We bless you for your infinite generosity and unhesitant mercy.
We come before you to lay down the needs that press upon our lives. 
For ourselves,
the hopes and hurts, the brightness and gloom
that populate our waking and our sleeping hours.
Help us to separate our needs from our wants,
that we may discern where priorities in our ordered lives should lie.
In a world where consumption rules
and many have become accustomed to plenty,
remind us of the privileges we take for granted,
and the bounty we believe is our right, and not Your gift.
We pray for common-sense, and the touch of faithful humility
that marked the life of your Son, our Saviour.
that we may determine to live lives of kindliness and grace.
God of faithfulness and truth,
we pray for the world around us,
for peoples whose names we do not know
yet whose hurts fill the news,
and whose afflictions touch us not nearly long enough.
We can change a channel, or turn a page,
but they endure the long days and months
of famine and thirst,
of racial injustice,
of disease and virus,
of war and feud,
of corruption and despair.
Solutions may not be easy for all the ills of this world,
but in each hurting place send Your Spirit,
that those who do have the power to effect the changes
needed for justice, peace and honor
may use their power for wellbeing of all.
In this season of Advent, where many watch and wait,
be with those who at this time
wait by a hospital bedside,
watch anxiously for results in exams and tests
wait for news of an interview,
watch of a loved one to return.
May all who wait with anxiety continue in hope,
and all who watch with fearfulness continue with a steady heart.
We pray for the Church,
the family of hopeful people,
persistent in faithfulness and graciousness,
marked by a willingness to work in kindness
and not count the hours or the cost.
As the world darkens and the days grow short,
may our light, Christ’s light in us,
shine with a steady flame,
bringing light, bringing healing, and bringing hope.
And all for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Dr. Derek Browning)

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.

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)

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.

Music: O Come O Come Emmanuel (Susan Wickham)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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