Advent Opening Prayer 2016 & Scriptures with Sermon Themes

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 1 – November 13, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25
Sermon: Promises – The Promised Creating

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

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

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

Because I tend to use one collect in worship for a season or month, depending on the time of year, I have also written a collect/opening prayer that keeps these themes of prophetic promises before the congregation for the four Sundays of Advent. Again, feel free to use this in worship; but I do ask that you acknowledge me as author.

God of the Coming Day,
we await Your advent among us
with hope and assurance.
We have no need to worry or fret,
nor to anxiously pace back and forth,
because you are as good as your Word,
because you keep your promises.
God of the Coming Day,
we rise up in the darkness preceding the dawn,
looking East, toward Your appearing.
For we know that when You appear,
You will create a new world;
You will gather in all of your people;
You will make peace the law of the land;
and You will lead us in life everlasting.
God of the Coming Day,
we await Your advent among us.  Amen.

Amy Persons Parkes © 2016


Which Bird Will Fly?

2015-04-28 16.43.09
“What do you think? A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
“‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.
“The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.
Which one of these two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first one.” Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you.
                                                  Matthew 21:28-31 (Common English Bible)

We have no greater threat to our life with God than this: an inconsistency between what we say and what we do. We cannot afford to be mockingbirds who blurt out melodies of faith arising from pretend experience.  Let what we say be naked doubt or pylons of assurance, but may we stray far from an impostor’s song.

The greater threat to a life lived in peace with God is not whether we confess belief.  Rather, the greater threat is whether or not we act consistently with our confessions.

“Are you able?” Jesus asks.

“Yes, Lord, we are able!” we answer, right alongside of Peter and Judas and the other ten who, in fact, were not able.

I like words.  I want words.  I want to hear them pass across my consciousness and disrupt the quiet unease I feel when no word is there.  I yearn for the distraction of a word, the engagement of a word. I fear, too quickly, I jump full sail into the words which dribble from my loose lips, but no paper towel can whisk away the mess I often make with my words.

If I am to say a word, may the word be full – full of my heart, full of my mind, full of my body.

If I am to form a word and let it fly out of me into the wide open world, let it be like this:
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.