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

Invite Wonder

2014-10-11 09.04.07

Photo Credit: Amy Persons Parkes

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