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Sunday’s Coming: working toward December 11

It’s amazing how fast Advent flies by. One minute we’re in the wilderness, the next minute we’re singing praise with two pregnant women. One minute, we’re praying for God to tear open the heavens, the next we’re proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. Maybe this week you’re contemplating the command to “rejoice always and pray without ceasing.” It is, for some of us, the Sunday when we light the pink candle of joy (and others of us have 4 purple or blue candles, since we can never remember which week is pink!). Perhaps you’ve chosen to save the Magnificat for next week and you’re going with the Psalm and its proclamation of all the great things God has done for us. Is anyone going with a season-long preparation theme, perhaps this week using John and the story of John the Baptizer preparing the way for the light?

So, what are you dreaming about this Advent? Are you conspiring with God, and working that into your worship life? Are you writing all new liturgy this year, or borrowing from a favorite resource (if you are, please share it in the comments!)? Are you following the lectionary, or flitting about in order to fit in special programs? Do you sing Christmas carols before Christmas, have a children’s pageant, or a cantata? What are you up to, and how can we work together for a creative and meaningful Advent liturgy?

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  1. We are incorporating some banners from Contemporary Drama Service made by the kids. We had to move the lectionary around a bit to make them work together, and that offered the chance to do new themes with the Advent Candles. For the wreath we are using the Psalms and incorporating it into our Call to Worship. Instead of the traditional Advent Wreath themes we are going with Covenant, Restoration, Expectation, and Deliverance. The last two connect directly with birth and the new reality of participation with God rather than the more apocolyptic/salvationist rhetoric.
    We are focusing on expectation this Sunday and deliverance the next. Here is our Prayer of Confession for this Sunday:
    Eternal God, we are so easily disappointed when our expectations in life are unfulfilled. We confine our hopes and desires to this life and our experiences. We place eternity in the future and fail to see it in the present moment. Forgive us when we reduce our faith to the expectation of fulfilled desires. Fill us with the expectation of your will to be done here and now as we await and experience your kingdom together. Amen.

  2. My congregation has had a rough year, pastorally speaking, so we are doing a nice, easy Advent theme this year. We are talking about the past, present, and future endurance of Christ in a world that wants to throw away things — and people — that are considered broken or otherwise useless. We are using Isaiah 40:8 as a theme scripture: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” My challenge is that, with our choir cantata next week and Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, this Sunday is my last chance to really develop that theme. I would like to have something with some pastoral and theological depth, perhaps talking about how we can understand what the word/Word of our God is (I have thought of using John 1:1-9 along with Isaiah 40:1-8). But I am also open to doing something more creative with the sermon (dialogue, turn-around-and-discuss-with-your-neighbor kind of thing, a monologue, ???). Any ideas?

  3. We are praying the magnificat this week. I started with the CEB and tweaked a little bit–I removed lines like “he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” and “abraham and abraham’s descendants forever” and generally just made it a little more unison-speakable. I’m pasting it in…hoping any CEB publishers/editors out there will consider it an advertisement for their wonderful new translation!

    All: With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 

    In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
    He has looked with favor on me.
    Look! From now on, everyone will consider me blessed
    because the mighty one has done great things for me.
    Holy is the Lord!
    He shows mercy to everyone,
    from one generation to the next.
    He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts
    and proud inclinations.
    He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
    and lifted up the lowly.
    He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty-handed.
    He has come to the aid of his servant,
    remembering his mercy,
    just as he promised to our ancestors.

  4. We’ll be looking at “rejoice always” from the Epistle as well as from the First Reading (Is. 61) AND the Magnificat. We’ll open with “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” and close with “Joy to the World!”

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