A Prayer for the Christmas Season

As we move into the Christmas season, I’m continuing to follow the theme of God’s promise.  Here is the opening prayer for worship during our Sundays of Christmas.

Background information:  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 post Three Ways to Celebrate Advent and Christmas Season Fully updated for 2016-2017 , my congregation will begin to observe Advent Sunday, November 13, 2016. The “new” fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 4, 2016.  We are following the lectionary for these Sundays, as they already exist. Using the Old Testament lessons, 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 me as the author of the material.

By your birth, Promised One,
you have renewed our hope
and reassured us of your constant care.
Prophets foretold it;
angels proclaimed it;
and humble arms received your salvation in the Babe of Bethlehem.
As we celebrate this season of Christmas,
may we, too, speak as prophets,
witness as angels, and welcome You like Mary and Joseph,
so that all people will know You keep your promises.  Amen.

Amy Persons Parkes © 2016

The Promised Leading

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 post Three Ways to Celebrate Advent and Christmas Season Fully updated for 2016-2017 , my congregation will begin to observe Advent Sunday, November 13, 2016. The “new” fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 4, 2016.  We are following the lectionary for these Sundays, as they already exist. Using the Old Testament lessons, 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 me as the author of the material.

I have centered worship around the prophetic promises about what God will do. Each week, the sermon is focused on a promised action from God.

Advent 4 – December 4, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
Sermon: Promises – The Promised Leading

Leader:

The prophet Isaiah names a future leader who will rise from what is perceived to be a dead nation. In the underground roots of a conquered people, God’s subterranean activity on behalf of equity, righteousness, and faithfulness continues despite appearances to the contrary.

God’s promises surprise us in this way. What we had thought no longer useful, what we had believed to be irrelevant, houses new possibility and nurtures emerging strength.

People: “A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots” (Isaiah 11:1).

 Leader: As people of God’s promise, we cast our lot with those who will not be deceived by appearances, who will not follow hearsay. We believe in God’s hidden movement in the midst of our world, even if we are not able to understand God’s ways just yet.

People: “My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my plans than your plans” (Isaiah 55:8)

 Leader: We light this candle on the fourth Sunday of Advent counting on the promises of God that challenge our assumptions and exist beyond our perceptions.

People: The promises of God shall be fulfilled. On that day, Christ will come again; and there will be no more night.  All things shall be revealed.

 All: Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Rev. Amy Persons Parkes © 2016

The Promised Peacemaking

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 post Three Ways to Celebrate Advent and Christmas Season Fully updated for 2016-2017 , my congregation will begin to observe Advent Sunday, November 13, 2016. The “new” fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 4, 2016.  We are following the lectionary for these Sundays, as they already exist. Using the Old Testament lessons, 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 me as the author of the material.

I have centered worship around the prophetic promises about what God will do. Each week, the sermon is focused on a promised action from God.

Advent 3 – November 27, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5
Sermon: Promises – The Promised Peacemaking

Leader:

The future God has planned for the nations of the earth is a peaceable kingdom, an existence in which all the nations and their peoples will not have a need for war or weapons of war. The prophet Isaiah saw a day that is to come when swords and spears would be fashioned into tools for tending the earth, tools that bring life not death.

In this third week of Advent, we join our voices to that of Isaiah as we proclaim the promise of God to make peace among the nations and to settle their disputes so that all may be taught the ways of God without fear.

People: “Nation will not take up sword against nation: they will no longer learn how to make war” (Isaiah 2:5).

Leader: As we wait for Christ’s coming, we do what we can to make peace with our neighbor; and we trust in the power of God to bring an end to every war and to reconcile all humankind.

People: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Leader: We light this candle on the third Sunday of Advent confidently waiting on God’s promise of a world free from violence.

People: The promises of God shall be fulfilled. On the day of Christ’s appearing, peace shall reign forever and ever.

All: Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Rev. Amy Persons Parkes © 2016

 

The Promised Gathering

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 post Three Ways to Celebrate Advent and Christmas Season Fully updated for 2016-2017 , my congregation will begin to observe Advent Sunday, November 13, 2016. The “new” fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 4, 2016.  We are following the lectionary for these Sundays, as they already exist. Using the Old Testament lessons, 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 me as the author of the material.

I have centered worship around the prophetic promises about what God will do. Each week, the sermon is focused on a promised action from God.

Advent 2 – November 20, 2016
Scripture: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Sermon: Promises – The Promised Gathering

Advent Wreath Lighting Liturgy

Leader:

Not all who have been called prophets agreed with one another. One prophet encourages, “Nothing bad will happen to you” (Jeremiah 23:17); and another prophet warns, “Your own weapons will be turned against you” (Jeremiah 21:4). And, both claim to be speaking for God. So, the faithful are aware that the true prophetic voice will only be recognized as such, with the passage of time.

Jeremiah was a prophet whose message of accountability and judgement no one wanted to hear, but time told the truth. In this season of Advent, we affirm with the prophet Jeremiah that God has looked upon creation and all contained within it and that God as the Good Shepherd denounces the actions of all who have misled and scattered the Good Shepherd’s sheep. In this season of Advent, we join Jeremiah’s prophetic voice to proclaim God’s promise to gather in the sheep of God’s fold and to keep them from harm.

People: “The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing” (Psalm 23).

Leader: Trusting in the promise of God spoken through Jeremiah, we look toward a coming day when the sheep of God’s pasture will listen to the voice of the True Shepherd and follow his voice.

People: “They won’t follow a stranger but will run away because they don’t know the stranger’s voice” (John 10:5).

Leader: We light this candle on the second Sunday of Advent believing in the promises of God, which will stand the test of time.

People: The promises of God shall be fulfilled. The night may be long; but the sun will rise.

All: Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Rev. Amy Persons Parkes © 2016