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liturgy for the fourth Sunday of Advent

Prayer of Approach and Confession for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Most High, we sing your praises, for your love endures forever. The Virgin Mary bore the ultimate revelation of your divine love, the baby Jesus. And now we thank you for the privilege of bearing your love in the world. We confess that often we have failed you in this commission. At times, we have questioned this call, saying “How can this be?” Other times, we have failed to offer love out of fear of rejection or self-involvement. Send your Holy Spirit upon us. Strengthen us and show us where revealing your love can bring new life. Amen.

 

Words of Assurance

When Mary found that she would bear God’s love in the world by giving birth to a baby, she asked the same question: “How can this be?” And the angel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Nothing is ever impossible with God. Be therefore assured that by the power of the Holy Spirit we, too, shall carry God’s love into the world. Amen.

 

Prayers of the People for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

God of Wonder,
We come before you in anticipation of what is to come;
We are excited
We are fearful
We are relieved
We are uncertain
In all these emotions, you are here with us.

God of No Limits,
We give you thanks for the boundless gifts you have given us:
This universe which you have created with its infinite mystery;
This earth that sustains us with its resources and beauty;
This created life, with all its relationships, of which we are a part;
For all these acts of love, we give you thanks.

God of Love,
We give you thanks for your Church
The community of those who came before, are here now, and are yet to come.
Help us to work together in the building of your kingdom here on earth
That we might live in justice, peace and harmony with all.

God of Many Blessings,
We call to mind all the ways in which you have blessed us individually,
With family and friends that fill us with belonging,
with studies and ministries that challenge and excite us
with good health and happiness.
In silence, O God, we give you are thanks for other blessings that you have laid before us….

God of Wisdom and Understanding,
As we give thanks we also hear the words of Scripture, urging us to bring all the concerns of our hearts to you.
And so we come with prayers of petition and intercession:
For a time when all this world might know peace
When hunger and oppression might end
When those who suffer might know freedom from pain
In our individual lives, O God, we name and offer the sighs of our hearts.
Hear them now as we call out these prayers to you……….

God of Patience and God of Surprises,
Teach us, in this time of waiting, to be open to let go of all those things
That hide your presence from us.
Catch us by surprise, catch us with wonder,
Fill us with the gift of your grace and your love
In this time of Advent and all the days to come.

In the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus, your wonderful gift to us,
we pray the words he taught us to say: Our Father…

 

Commissioning for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

May you be strengthened as you go forth
To carry God’s love, as Mary did.
A love that is radical, powerful, and life-affirming.

 

Submitted by Rev. Daniel Hayward, Trinity Ingleside and Newington United Churches, South Stormont ON Canada. Written by Karen Boivin, Daniel Hayward and Maggie Melanson while MDiv students at Queen’s School of Religion, Kingston ON.

a dramatic reading of the Magnificat, in three parts

All: And Mary said,
One: my soul magnifies the Lord,
Two: and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
Three: for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
One: Surely, from now on, all generations will call me
Two: blessed (reverently),
Three: blessed (surprised),
One: blessed (excited),
Two: for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
Three: and holy is God’s name.
One: God’s mercy is for those who fear God
Two: from generation to generation.
Three: God has shown strength with God’s arm;
One: God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
Two: God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
Three: and lifted up the lowly;
One: God has filled the hungry with good things,
Two: and sent the rich away empty.
Three: God has helped God’s servant Israel,
One: in remembrance of God’s mercy,
Two: according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
Three: to Abraham and his descendants
One: forever,
Two: forever (more intense),
Three: forever (even more intense).

Adapted from Luke 1:47-55.

Submitted by Rev. Daniel Hayward, Trinity Ingleside and Newington United Churches, South Stormont ON Canada. Written by Karen Boivin, Daniel Hayward and Maggie Melanson while MDiv students at Queen’s School of Religion, Kingston ON.

confession: when we ___…

“A servant woman saw Peter sitting in the firelight. She stared at him and said, ‘This man was with Jesus too.’ But Peter denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I don’t know him!’” Luke 22:56-57

When we deny you, Christ, forgive us.

“All his disciples left Jesus and ran away.” Mark 14:50

When the risks of following you are high, and we are nowhere to be found, Christ, forgive us.

“Pilate took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I’m innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. Then he handed Jesus over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:24, 26

When we wash our hands of responsibility, Christ, forgive us.

“Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I turn Jesus over to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver.” Matthew 26:14-15

When we side with powerful oppressors and seek to buy freedom, Christ, forgive us.

“When the women returned from the empty tomb, they reported everything to the Eleven and all the others. Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women.” Luke 24:9, 11

When fear keeps us from witnessing to your truth, or prejudice keeps us from believing it, Christ, forgive us.

(Silent prayer)

Tender God, raise us in your love so that, with joy, we may witness to the good news of Easter, in the name of Jesus the Risen One. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Daniel Hayward, Ingleside-Newington Pastoral Charge, South Stormont, Ontario, The United Church of Canada, adapted from a prayer in The United Church of Canada worship resource Celebrate God’s Presence.

 

Aside/idea from your LiturgyLink admins: this would be a really interesting prayer to “build up” throughout Triduum–the first to sections on Maundy Thursday, add the next two on Good Friday, and then add the final sections at the Easter Vigil or on Easter morning…

call to worship for Advent 1 – rip open the heavens

Submitted by Rev. Daniel Hayward, Trinity Ingleside and Newington United Churches, South Stormont, Ontario, Canada.

Leader: O that God would rip open the heavens and come down, and make the mountains shudder.
People: But isn’t this season about tinsel decorations and Santa?

Leader: The sun will become dark, the moon won’t give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the planets will be shaken.
People: But isn’t this season about lights twinkling in the streets?

Leader: Then you will see the Christ coming in the clouds, with great power and splendour.
People: That sounds more like it – the hope we’re looking for, the promise of something better. We can’t wait!

Leader: But now we must wait. Keep watch! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming.
People: Come, Lord Jesus!

Leader: Come, Lord Jesus. We wait for the arrival of this hope, we long for the return of Jesus, we look for the signs of God coming among us.