This Place is a Mess!

Company's Coming

First Sunday of Advent, Year B

What excitement this season brings! Certainly, you’ve done it many times before; the rituals may be set in stone, the expectations ripe, and the patterns already unrolling. But there is something about the season of Advent that brings forth the kid in us, and we all lean into the hope. So, let the excitement grow; let the buzz be felt.

Millennial/Centennial Voices from the Africana Diaspora

The first Africana Worship Book appeared in 2006. It was the brainchild of the Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman Davis and the Rev. Dr. Safiyah Fosua. Out of this effort, multiple worship resources have been produced: four Africana Worship books published by Discipleship Resources; The Africana Hymnal published by Abingdon; and Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice (print, eBook, and video) published by Discipleship Resources. These resources continue to inform and enhance worship in a variety of settings and traditions across the church.

Yet there are new voices ready to be heard speaking to and for a new generation of worship leaders and congregations. Dr. Fosua agreed to help shepherd a new generation of worship resources for the whole church from the Africana tradition. Along with Cheryl Walker, Dr. Fosua gathered these worship leaders and invited them to create new resources for a new day.

Here is the first collection of those resources written especially for the Advent season. It is the hope of the Worship Team of Discipleship Ministries that these resources will be used widely throughout the church, giving voice to people of color from within our tradition. These resources may be printed, copied, distributed, reprinted in church bulletins or newsletters, or otherwise used for nonprofit local church worship or education with the inclusion of the copyright citation. They may not be used for profit or republication without prior permission.

Dr. Fosua has now assembled a new vision team preparing to gather another group of writers. The Rev. Dr. Jacqui King, Director of U.S. Conference Relationships for Discipleship Ministries, and the Rev. Nathalie Parker, National Program Coordinator for Strengthening the Black Church for the Twenty-First Century, have agreed to work with Dr. Fosua in cultivating more liturgical resources from the African Diaspora. We look forward to their work.

Let’s meet the creators of this Advent collection of resources:

  • Rev. Lindsey Baynham is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving as the Director of Clergy Excellence in the Virginia Annual Conference. This proud alumna of Randolph-Macon College and Duke Divinity School has a passion for worship design, preaching and teaching, laughter over a meal with friends, and connecting folks.
  • Valerie Boyer was born and raised in Galveston, TX, the home of Juneteenth, curated at Howard University, with journey to Detroit, MI and now Columbus, OH. Valerie has embraced life through the lens of preaching, praying, poetry, and activism. She is working to make a difference in different pockets of the world, one person at a time.
  • Linda Furtado currently serves as the Minister of Worship, Arts, and Media at McKendree UMC in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Linda, a ministry leader in the Tennessee Annual Conference, is married to the Rev. Jefferson M. Furtado. She is the mother of three school-age daughters: Sueli, Cintia, and Emma.
  • Rev. Ashley Renée Johnson is a provisional deacon in the United Methodist Church. She currently serves at the Union Church in Boston, MA. This proud alumna of Spelman College, Brown University, and the Boston University School of Theology has also enjoyed serving as an elementary school teacher for more than ten years.
  • Rev. Michael Parker, a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church, pastors Bells United Methodist Church and United Methodist Church of the Redeemer in Prince George's County, MD. Rev. Parker is pursuing a D. Min. at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. He has been a consistent voice for the voiceless.
  • Rev. Alexis Carter Thomas is a writer, researcher, and adjunct professor, who lives with her husband, John, in South Carolina. Her current work includes an ethnographic study of the flourishing of Black clergywomen and providing soul care as a form of reparations to women to give their time, resources, and life to the thriving of Black churches.
  • Stephon Void is a Certified Lay Servant in the South Carolina Annual Conference and a member of New Covenant UMC in Bowman, SC. He is currently a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Technician and facilities manager at Claflin University.

The Season of Advent

The Jazz of Advent

Ashley Johnson

Do you hear that?
Do you see that?
That commotion.
That clamor.
That racket.

It’s created by the confusion and chaos of this noisy, broken world, and it can be especially loud in this season.

It’s not soothing.
It is anxiety producing.

It’s not inspiring.
It is distracting and rude and cold.
But if we listen harder… if we pay attention…


But, if we listen again, we can hear, we can see sweet music.
Jazz, if you will.

[Musicians play soft music]

In our everyday lives, we can hear surprising notes, electric instrumentation, smooth sounds, and even bluesy rhythms that remind us that we are not alone. This is the music that we are designed to enjoy.

This is jazz.

This is the music of Advent.

This music lasts.
This music affirms.
This music transforms.
This music promises a restored world.

So, the question becomes: How can we get ready? How can we prepare this shared space, this sacred space? We can remember. We can focus on growing together, on sharing this, God’s music, with others.

How can we prepare our hearts?

We shift our attention from the clatter. We close our eyes or open our eyes and position ourselves to see, to hear a new song, even when this world makes it so difficult to do so. We welcome the words that the prophets sing. And, we deepen our commitments to harmonize.

How can we prepare our hearts?

We make every effort to see, to listen to the jazz of Advent.



A Prayer for the Season of Advent

Valerie Boyer

Heavenly Father,

We come to you right now, Lord, starting off by saying thank you. We are constantly reminded, that everyone doesn't get a chance to say thank you, so while we have it, we're going to take it.

Thank you for our good days.
Thank you for our bad ones.
Thank you for our hard times.
Thank you for our pain.
Thank you for our joy.
Thank you for your strength.
Thank you for your peace.
Thank you for our families.

God, we thank you.

We come to you, Lord, asking that you go and see about the people who are poverty-stricken.
We pray for the bodies who must sleep outside tonight in this weather,
Give them warm souls,
Remind them that you never leave us or forsake us.

God, convict us in our spirits to be your hands and feet,
To go to their aid, not just during this time of the year,
But year round, Lord.

Thank you for your servants who will house the homeless.
May their work never be in vain.

Now God, we pray for those who wrestle with loss and depression this season.

Depression is real.

Anxiety is real.

God, for so many people,
This holiday season has been redefined by the absence of a loved one's physical presence,
But, Lord, we know you can handle it.

God, you are a heart-fixer and a mind-regulator.
We pray you give us wisdom and the right words to say to those who are in distress.
We pray you send your peace.

God, we're coming against increased suicide rates right now.
We're coming against wrist-cutting and slicing right now.
We rebuke the overuse of alcohol; we rebuke drug abuse, right now.
We bind inappropriate reactionary behavior right now and send it back from whence it came.

God in this holiday season people need to experience you.
We want the world to know the love we've come to know.
We want the world to feel the joy we've come to feel.
And, we want the world to feel the hope that you give.

For people who have put distance in the relationship,
We pray that they draw near to you again.
And, for people that don't know you,
We pray that you reveal yourself to them.
God, for the individual things that your children stand in need of,
We ask to you meet them where they...where we are.

You promised us you'd never leave us or forsake us, and we choose to trust you.

God, you are a redeemer.
You're a restorer.
We love you so much.
Lastly, but certainly not least,
We thank you for Jesus.
Thank you for the hope he brings,
And thank you that he gives us access to you.

And it's in the name of that Jesus,
Our hope-giving, saving, redeeming, loving Savior's name, we pray and ask it all.


First Sunday of Advent

Stephon Carlisle Void

Church Voicemail

A Gathering Meditation based on Mark 13: 24-37
Prepare for a dramatic presentation of Church Voicemail to precede the Call to Worship that follows

The phone rings five times; no one answers.
"Hello, we aren’t available; please leave a message after the beep."

"Hello, my dear, are you there? It is important that I hear from you.
The sick haven’t been seen in weeks. No one has looked after the widowed and the poor. Your soup kitchen is closed. Are you OK? Call me back, my dear, I miss you."

The phone rings five times; no one answers.
"Hello, we are not available. Please leave a message after the beep."
Hello, my dear, it is me again. I’m still away, prepping for my return. What is this I hear? No one has professed their faith, nor no child has been baptized in a while? Why are your pews so empty? Are you asleep? I need you to wake up and stand watch until I get back. Get back in touch with me soon.

The phone rings five times, and no one answers.
"Hello, we aren’t available. Please leave a message after the beep."
Honey, are you still asleep? The people I entrusted you with are in need of your help.
I said I was going away to prepare a place for you. I told you that I love you. I gave my life for you. Why are you asleep? Why are you ignoring me? Why are you so pious and clinging to your traditions? My bride, can you wake up please? I need you! My return is soon coming, and I don’t want to leave you behind. My dear, please wake and do the work you have been asked to do before it's too late."

The phone rings once.
"The number you have dialed is no longer in service."

Stay Woke!

A Call to Worship, Inspired by Mark 13: 24-37

Look at the signs of the times. There are hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, famine, and incurable diseases.
Stay Woke! Christ is coming again!

Civic leaders care more about their own interests than they do about the people.
Stay woke! Christ is coming again!

Our youth are being imprisoned or killed by a system that is meant to fail them. Mothers are burying their children because of violence in the streets.
Stay woke! Christ is coming again!

No one knows when Christ will return. It’s time to put in some work. It’s time to reach those who are lost. It is time to be the light of hope that this world needs. Christ is coming, and there is no time for sleeping. We have work to do.
Stay Woke! Christ is coming again!

Please Don’t Condemn Us

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent

Please don’t condemn us, O God, for not standing firm on our calling. We, your church, have become a barren dessert to our own people. We have not heard the cry of our people. They are crying in Ferguson, Houston, Charleston, Chicago, and Baltimore. They turn to us to respond, but we have yet to bear fruits of promise. Young people need our wisdom, but we fear them because we don’t know how to bridge the gap. We are meant to be a beacon of hope and light, but we are stuck in our traditions. We are called to change the world, but we let the world change us. We are to stand up for injustice, but at times, we sit in silence.

Despite our flaws, you still love your church. You prove that love to us through your Son Jesus Christ. We know that he is coming back again, and we can expect him at any time. Guide us to walk in his light and to serve like he served. We ask that you mold us, like clay, into new vessels of hope, faith, courage, and love. Pour your living water into our newly shaped vessels. Give us so much living water that it will overflow and reach every ministry we do. Strengthen us to the extent that we will go out into the wilderness and bring forth change in the hearts of people. When you come back for us, may we be the church that you have called us to be. Help us to be the hope that so many people need on this day.

In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Stay Alert, We Have Work to Do

A Sending Forth for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Inspired by Mark 13:24-37

If someone is hungry, then feed them.
If someone is naked, then clothe them.
If someone is lost, then show them the way.
If someone is afraid, then show them that he is strong!
If some are excluded, include them.
If someone is empty, then introduce them to the one who can fill them up.
If there is no shelter to house the people, build it.
Be the hands that lift your brothers/sisters up.
We have work to do before the Savior comes.
Don’t let him catch you asleep on the job.
Stay alert, stay diligent, and stay woke.
Be the church that Jesus brags about to his Father.
May his peace be with you until we meet again. Amen.

In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes First Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

First Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes First Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes