In an effort to be intentional about celebrating Advent and Christmas more fully, as outlined by Taylor Burton-Edwards, Director of Worship Resources, Discipleship Ministries (United Methodist Church), in the United Methodist Worship blog post Three Ways to Celebrate Advent and Christmas Season Fully in 2015/16 , my congregation will begin to observe Advent Sunday, November 15. The “new” fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 6. We are following the lectionary for these Sundays, as they already exist. Using the Gospel Lessons, Gayle (the Chairperson of our Worship Committee) selected key phrases from different translations of the Bible and paired the phrases with two words that will be used for silent meditation at the beginning of worship. Using these phrases and two-word meditations as inspiration, I am writing Advent Wreath Lighting Liturgies for our Advent observance. If you would like to use them in worship, please feel free; however, I do ask that you acknowledge Gayle Youmans and Amy Persons Parkes as the authors of the material.
December 6, 2015 (Advent 4)
Luke 3:1-6, key verse v. 6 (CEB): “And all humankind will see God’s salvation.”
Two-word meditation: Invite Wonder
Leader: With wonder and humility, we look to the heavens, mindful of our small place in the vast universe you have created, O God. We marvel at your attention to the details of our lives, amidst the expansive nature of existence.
In a universe containing some 70 billion trillion stars, you see our pain and longing. In a world encompassing the astounding paradox of creatures like the 400,000 pound blue whale and the 1/2 inch krill upon which it feeds, we are confounded by the interconnectedness of creatures great and small. How miraculous that the largest animal which has ever lived, only does so because one of the smallest creatures exists and multiplies and migrates day in and day out. With amazement, we ponder the infinite mystery of our own bodies whose cells contain enough strands of DNA, that laid end to end would make over 70 roundtrips from the earth to the sun.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we light these candles, at last, holding only to the promise of your coming. Gazing toward the heavens, we are stunned by your greatness. Turning inward, we are mystified by the intricacies of these bodies you have created. Our hearts and minds fall short in contemplating the ways in which your salvation will be made known to all humankind.
People: We wait actively for your coming, Lord.
Leader: We practice discernment until we see and know the Truth.
People: We allow the discomfort that accompanies the birth of a new heaven, a new earth, the fullness of the Kingdom of God among us.
Leader: We invite wonder to soothe our longing and to nurture the embers of hope lying dormant yet
alive within us.
People: For you, O God, know the stars, feed the blue whales, and are well acquainted with our DNA. In you, O Lord, the heavens and the krill live and move and have their being.
All: With wonder, and the hope it engenders, we believe, “Come! Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”
Gayle Youmans & Amy Persons Parkes © 2015