Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent - B

Texts:  2nd Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Call to Worship
L:  O come, Rest of the righteous:
wrap us in your shawl of hope,
cradling us in your comfort and peace.
P: O come, Servant of salvation:
unlocking the chains of our sin,
sending us to dance in your kingdom's joy.
L: O come, Gospel of graciousness:
so we would welcome the outsider
and embrace the lonely hearts in our midst.
P: O come, Lover of the lowly:
to raise them up until they can look you in the eye,
and kiss your soft cheeks in gratitude.
L: O come, Child of the covenant:
heir of all those promises made so long ago,
and bearer of all the grace flowing from God's heart.
P: O come, Companion of creation:
to transform the mess we have made
into gardens overrun with goodness and beauty.
L: O come to us, Immanuel, come and live with us:
P: this day, and forevermore, come!

Prayer of the Day
You take us by the hand,
Gentle grace,
so we may walk
the paths of your kingdom,
carrying the light of joy,
to find the traveling companions
you give us for our journey
into the holiness of this season.

Adonai's Anointed:
you came among us
to whisper of your hope
above the jingles of these days;
you have been with us,
in every moment of our lives,
disguised as our friends and families,
living among us as the strangers
who welcome us as kin.

You are with us,
Spirit of kindness,
planting seeds of peace
which can bear fruit
for a shattered world;
you send us to sing
the glad tidings of
incomparable joy,
that God has kept every
promise ever made.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you give us the words we need,
even to pray as Jesus teaches us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
If we are to welcome the Child into our hearts, we must speak
of all the ways we have hardened ourselves against the good
news he brings.  Let us confess our sins, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer of Confession
How can this be, Holy One of Advent?
We would put the powerful on pedestals,
     but you send the lowly to remind us
     of our call to be servants.
We would stock our pantries with more and more,
     but you send our friends to our door,
     collecting for those who hunger and thirst for hope.
We would listen to seasonal sounds of sales,
     but you send the angels to carol to us
     of the promises made to all.

Forgive us, Hope of the world.
As we watch for your coming,
     may we see the need around us;
as we prepare to celebrate your birth,
     may we live with open hearts;
as we long for healing and hope,
     may we discover it in the Babe of Bethlehem,
     Jesus the Christ, sent for us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: The good news is not just announced to all people,
it is indeed, for all people.  For the proud, as well
as the humble; for the rich, and for the poor; for
those who have found faith, and those who long for it.
P: Our hearts rejoice in the promises, and our souls
rejoice in the One who has come to us, bringing
hope, joy, and peace into our lives.  Thanks be to
God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  Favored ones, the Lord is with you!
P:  And also with you!
L:  Children of God, lift your hearts to the One
       who brings good news to you.
P:  Our hearts glorify God, who strengthens us in every way.
L:  Beloved of the Lord, sing glad songs of praise.
P:  We rejoice in God our Savior, who looks with joy upon us.

Architect of the Universe:
like a mist over a lake,
your Spirit moved above creation,
so your peace could walk gently
through the fields of goodness,
so your hope could tiptoe quietly
into our lives to dwell forever.
You created us in your image,
so we could rest in your gentleness.
But we decided to warm ourselves
by the fireside of sin and death.
You asked the prophets
to come and remind us
of your everlasting covenant,
but we scattered their words
into the empty hollows of our hearts.
So, looking favorably upon us,
you sent Jesus to come,
appointing him to bring salvation
to us once and for all.

So, with those who waited on sheep-strewn hillsides,
and those who endured the pains of labor,
with all our sisters and brothers  in every time and place,
we sing of your great joy forever:

P:  Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Advent Joy.
     Heaven and earth sing your praises as you reach down
         to heal and comfort your creation.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who welcomes all people into your grace.
     Hosanna in the highest!

Your name is Holy, God of Grace,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Your Child, our Savior.
when we were chilled
to the bone by despair,
he came to warm us with your hope;
when we huddled against
the cold winds of fear,
he wrapped us in the shawl
woven from your hopes and dreams;
when we could find no life,
he walked to a cross-strewn hillside,
scattering sin's power with your grace,
sending the grave away empty-handed
as he greeted us with the promise
of the resurrection for all your children.

As we prepare to celebrate his birth once again,
as we await the songs of the angels on that holy night,
we would proclaim that mystery revealed as faith:

P:   Christ came, to humble the proud
          and to raise up the lowly;
      Christ is in our midst,
          feeding the hungry
          and filling the emptiness of all;
      Christ will come again,
          to bring us home into the kingdom of heaven.

Send your Spirit to move over your people,
and to fill the bread and the cup
with your presence and power.
May the bread we break and share
become the healing we need
and the hope we carry to a world
shattered by fears and doubts.
May the cup we bless
and pass to one another
be the grace for which we have yearned,
and the joy we can offer
to everyone we meet.

And, when the Spirit gathers us up
and brings us to the Table in the kingdom,
 we will join our hearts and songs
with your family from all time and places,
who forever sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
(c) 2011  Thom M. Shuman

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