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

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Practice Discernment

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Photo Credit: Liz West, Bifocals

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.

November 22, 2015 (Advent 2)
John 18:33-37, key verse 34a (NLT):  “Is this your own question…”
Two-word meditation:  Practice Discernment

Leader:  For hundreds of years, our Jewish ancestors waited for the promised Messiah, the one who would come in God’s name and power, one in the line of kings, one who would be greater than David, one who would restore Israel to it’s former glory.

John the Baptist, in the order of the prophets, called on the people to confess their  sins, to repent, and to look to one who was more powerful than he. But the ways of God are mysterious and unfathomable to the human mind. While we searched for one who would lead an army, sit on a throne, and reign over a nation, God was putting two microscopic cells together in a woman’s womb. While we were combing through the genealogies of heroes and palace families, God was spreading a little straw in a splintering manger. While we were seeking power from above in places of power here below, God was lifting up the anonymous and silencing the authorities.

As we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent, we remember how we have often followed a misguided majority rather than a faithful few.

People: We remember Jesus saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

Leader:  Like Pilate, our hearts—when we listen for God’s spirit within—tell us what we know is right.

People: Like Pilate, we brush up against the Truth of the Gospel; and we seek answers from Jesus.

Leader: On this second Sunday of Advent, we embrace the need for us to practice discernment, to recognize the nagging questions arising within us, and to be wary of where the crowds may lead us.

People: We will listen for the truth. We will heed the voice of Jesus.

All: Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come!

Amy Persons Parkes  & Gayle Youmans © 2015