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.

The first week of Advent is always a surprise—no matter how much preparation takes place within the life of the church; no matter that out there in the wider world, Christmas has been advertised for months. We are always surprised when the season of Advent rolls around. There is more of a theological reason for this than a calendar one. Part of the purpose of the season, then, is to remind us that we are waiting; we are looking forward; we are leaning into what is coming. And the what is, for us, more of a who. That’s why the theme of “Company’s Coming” reminds us that we are looking for the Christ who comes, but also the community we are becoming.

Therefore, one of our Advent questions must be, “Who is missing from our fellowship?” Or to say it another way, “Who are we leaving out?” “Who can we include” states it in the positive. “How can we clean up the mess we’ve made?”

Call to Worship

Come, Lord Jesus, Come
(Based on Isaiah 64:1-9)

Many: Come Lord Jesus, Come!

One: Rip open the sky,
Make planes divert their flight paths,
Tell the mountains to duck,
And rush into this sanctuary.

Many: Come Lord Jesus, Come!

One: Come and silence the violence,
Stop stray bullets that kill the innocent,
Expose dealers who peddle addiction,
Make your enemies know you and tremble in your presence.

Many: Come Lord Jesus, Come!

One: We may fail to notice your presence
In everyday living,
In casual conversations,
Or in blessings disguised as “coincidences.”

Still we cry …

Many: Come Lord Jesus, Come!

(Kwasi I. Kena, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, p. 49.)

Opening Prayer

Father God, we thank You that You have promised to be with us no matter what difficult circumstances invade our lives and we lift up our many brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing increasingly hard times. We are watching and waiting for the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ and join with the Spirit in praying: "Come Lord Jesus". In these increasingly difficult times, we ask for Your strength and courage to face whatever lies ahead, knowing that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us... and that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. AMEN.

Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Isaiah/64

An Advent Prayer

O the power of the Baby! Such power can bring mama’s white family and daddy’s black family to understand that it is not about race, but about love.

O the power of the Baby! Such power can melt the hardest heart. Let this be a Kodak moment reminding us of the impact of seemingly tiny gifts … like crooked clay ash trays, popsicle crosses, stick figure pictures, wilted dandelions.

O the power of the Baby! Take this chip off our shoulder, help us forget the wrong done to us; make disappointment and rejection disappear; melt them like intense sun melts the snow. Take away the isolation of staying inside of ourselves, separated from the world.

O the power of the Baby! Take the anemic joy that we have today and light a fire under it so that we will boil over with unrestrained giving of ourselves!

O the power of the Baby! Make us angels gathering up coworkers, train-workers, house-workers, yard-workers, body-workers, taxi-workers, garbage-workers, factory-workers, classroom-workers, building-workers, and food-workers to behold the miracle child who can take our spiritual thirst away forever.

God, you opened the heavens and sent your Son down. Let us see your Star come from heaven to show us the Way. Let Mary’s Little Baby lead us. Let the mountains quake in His presence and the persistent, impatient car horns fall silent in adoration. Show us your Son through the clouds of our confusion and desperation and exhaustion. Let us experience His power.

O God, who works for those who wait on you, we’re waiting. There are days when we think we’ve just missed the train to get us where we need to go, or missed the opportunity to right a wrong. But God, keep us waiting on Jesus, the one who will make it right. Amen.

(Sherri Dobbs Johnson, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, p. 25-26.)

A LAMENT FOR A NEW LITURGICAL YEAR (YEAR B)

O, God if you would only tear open the heavens and come down!
Come and shake us out of our apathy.
Come and unite us with your compassion.
Come and heal us with your presence.

We have had enough of our rubble.

Our rubble is not made of fragmented stones from fallen city walls and a devastated Temple. Our rubble is more subtle, but just as real. It is the rubble of a world turned in upon itself.

We are tired, God.
We are tired of being at war with our neighbor.
We are tired of tyrants who turn citizens into desperate refugees.
We are tired of fearing the stranger.
We are tired of the continual threat of destruction.
We are tired of people misusing their positions of power against others.
We are tired of acts of terror – and tired of our failure to imagine any other way to respond than the creation of terror in return.
We are tired of how our lusts and the distortion of our desires erode every relationship and destroy the lives of our children.
We are tired of greed and the way it forms systems that benefit the few on the backs of the many.
We are tired of our bluster, pride, and arrogance. Our divisive political rhetoric is pushing us to the point of exhaustion.
We are tired of keeping up appearances and expending all our energy for things that will not last.
We are tired of the idols of amusement that sedate us into apathy.
We are tired of drowning in information while starving for wisdom.
We are tired of floods, quakes, and winds. We cannot take any more death, and destruction. And we are tired of that deep inner sense of fear that we are unwittingly awakening those primeval forces of chaos that we cannot control.
With Judah, we begin a new year sitting in the rubble our sinfulness has made… morally, emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted to the point of despair…
We have fallen into a gap of iniquity that seems to be swallowing all of creation in with it…

YET… YET… You are our Father.

YET… YET… You are the potter… we are your clay.

So we gather around your table reminded that you are present in our suffering.

But more than that, we gather around your table - not in fear of scarcity - but in the abundance of Advent hope that...

Your light can penetrate the darkness of our despair…
Your goodness can overcome the chaos of our evil…
Your grace can transform the rubble of our sin…
Your life can make all things new.

We come around your table of grace as prisoners of hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who had been given to us.

https://drtscott.typepad.com/pastor_scotts_thoughts/2017/12/a-lament-for-a-new-liturgical-year-based-on-isaiah-64.html

Prayer of Confession

Call to Confession

The cares of this life weigh us down, and we seek escape more than insight, avoidance rather than confrontation with God’s truth. God comes to us even when we are hiding from the best we know. God waits to hear our story and to restore us to life as it is meant to be. Let us come to God in prayer.

Confession

We confess, Surprising God, that our sense of anticipation has been dulled. We have ceased to expect any wonders from your hand. We do not see the marvels around us in the people and happenings we view as commonplace. We are not alert to your presence or your action on our behalf. Wake us up, God, lest sleep be our death. Pardon and redeem us, that we may escape the judgment we are bringing on ourselves. Send your light that it may shine through us into a needy world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Lavon Baylor in Ruth Duck, Flames of the Spirit, Pilgrim Press, 1985, p. 15.)

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

Colors


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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