a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Confession + Pardon: Darkness + Light

Holy and Beloved God, it is hard to hope when all seems lost. The darkness has a way of fuzzing our vision, of taking our eyes off of your holy light. It’s hardest to see your light when our eyes are shut – shut to you, shut to each other, and shut to the suffering that is just barely disguised by thin smiles and haunted eyes. Yet, your light shines. Your hope abides with us, awakening us to your love, and calling us to share your light with each other. Help us prepare a way for you in our hearts, that your love might open our hearts to see you fully in the world. Amen.

 

silence or musical response: Prepare the Way (Glory to God #95)

 

Awake, people of God! Open your eyes, open your ears, and open your hearts! The Holy One arose, yes, arose even from the depths of death, and calls you to do the same, with messages of hope, peace, joy and love. Know that God’s love and grace are greater than sin! Know that you are forgiven!

Submitted by Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bixby, Okla.

Opening to the Light–Advent Candle Liturgies

2016 Advent/Christmas Theme: Opening To The Light
Narrative Lectionary Year 3: Daniel 6, Joel 2, Isaiah 61, Luke 1

Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings (tune: Picardy, except last two lines):

As we light the Advent candle
with the light of hope burning bright,
faithfully we wait for his coming;
faithfully it shines through the night.
In our humble hearts a fire burns as well;
hear the prayer these flames would tell.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel.

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

week 1 (Daniel 6.6-27):
Liturgist: One candle shines as shadows lengthen and chaos roars—
the dawn of God’s kingdom in our midst.
All: Courage awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 2 (Joel 2.12-13, 28-29):
Liturgist: Two candles shine as light peeks through the cracks
and God’s dream overflows.
All: Vision awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 3 (Isaiah 61.1-11):
Liturgist: Three candles shine as God’s promise draws near,
beckoning us to be good news in body and spirit.
All: Justice awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

week 4 (Luke 1.26-55):
Liturgist: Four candles shine as God’s purpose is revealed
in word and flesh.
All: Possibility awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.

Liturgist: Radiant flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

Here is a bulletin-ready version:

week 1:

Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings
As we light the Advent candle
with the light of hope burning bright,
faithfully we wait for his coming;
faithfully it shines through the night.
In our humble hearts a fire burns as well;
hear the prayer these flames would tell.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel.

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: One candle shines as shadows lengthen and chaos roars—
the dawn of God’s kingdom in our midst.
All: Courage awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

week 2

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Two candles shine as light peeks through the cracks
and God’s dream overflows.
All: Vision awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.
week 3:

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Three candles shine as God’s promise draws near,
beckoning us to be good news in body and spirit.
All: Justice awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Bright flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

week 4:

(Lit candle is carried in as congregation sings)

Candle-bearer: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Liturgist: Four candles shine as God’s purpose is revealed
in word and flesh.
All: Possibility awakens in us, a spark to brighten the way.
Liturgist: Radiant flash and feeble flame break through;
a long time coming, yet unexpected.
Watching and waiting, we prepare him room.
All: Christ is coming to make all things new,
and we are opening to the Light.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

***song is an excerpt from “Light the Advent Candle” by Ruth Elaine Schram

CTW: look to the stars

One: Look to the stars—filling the sky with light!
All: God’s word is a light, shining bright in the darkness.
One: Look to the stars—spread across the universe, farther than any eye has seen.
All: God is everywhere present, whether we go to the ends of the earth or depths of the sea.
One: Look to the stars—more than we even have numbers to count.
All: God’s grace is beyond imagining, beyond language, beyond counting.
One: Look to the stars—signs of God’s promise, shining through all generations.
All: We come to worship God, in whom we trust.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

Prayer for Illum. – Divine Light + Breath

Holy Spirit, bring your divine light into the readings this morning. Help us to see as you see – to hear as you hear – to act in the world as you would have us act. Breathe life into us as you breathe into your living Word, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bixby, OK

POP: on psalm 19

O God, the heavens declare your glory,
and all creation reveals your surpassing wisdom.
We give thanks to you for those who reveal your riches to us
and teach us in the way we should go.
We pray for all who are searching,
that you would shine your light ahead of them
and help all people rejoice in you.
We pray for those who struggle and suffer,
especially those we have lifted up by name today.
Revive all our souls and refresh our spirits.
Guide us in your service,
because your will is the desire of our hearts.
Let all that we say or do be acceptable in your sight,
we pray in Jesus’ name, saying together:

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Submitted by Rev. Nathan Williams, Echo Hill Presbyterian Church, Marion, IA

prayer: you break forth

God of all Goodness and Grace,
tonight, you break forth into a world waiting in wonder.
So long we have waited,
so long we have watched,
so long we have wondered what tonight would bring.
To you we ascribe all thanksgiving and praise
for you alone are our hope and our salvation.
You alone are the light that has come to rescue us from ourselves.
You alone are worthy of our worship and you alone are our King!
Come to us on this blessed evening and hear our joyful welcome!
Come to us, Holy Savior, and send your Spirit to tell us a story,
the story of salvation’s birth and hope’s fullest fruition!  Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY

CTW: newborn Light

We gather in the darkness of evening to celebrate the newborn Light.
With family and friends we worship and adore the Christ-child.
With Mary we will ponder these things in our hearts.
With Joseph we will give thanks to the Lord for God’s steadfast love.
Lift up your hearts in thanksgiving, for a child, the Child, has been born!
We gather to worship him and welcome his peaceful kingdom.
His name will be blessed among all the earth;
His reign shall have no end!
Come, our wait is finished!  Let us worship the newborn King!

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY

hymn: Good People Come and Listen

Here is a Christmas hymn that would work especially well for either a Christmas Eve service or a Christmas Day service (as well as the rest of the season of Christmas).  It is written to the tune BEREDEN VAG FOR HERRAN which is commonly sung to the hymn “Prepare the Way, O Zion.”  The meter is 7.6.7.6.7.7. with refrain.

This hymn has at least two possibilities for singing:

  1. Have everyone sing every verse, or,
  2. Have a cantor sing verse 1, the choir sing verse 2, and everyone sing verse 3.

unnamed-5

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY. Permission is given for use in worship–please do not remove copyright information.

confession: in the wilderness

Call to Confession
Like John the Baptist and like the Israelites,
we often find ourselves in wildernesses.
Sometimes, the toughest wildernesses are the ones we build ourselves.
Join me in confessing the wild sin that so often takes over our lives.

 

Prayer of Confession
Forgiving God,
in this season of Advent,
we welcome the coming of your light
in a world filled with darkness.
We confess to you the ways in which we have added to that darkness
rather than obeyed our call to live as children of the light.
We ask your forgiveness:
for times when we worship violence and belittle peace,
for times when we fight amongst ourselves,
for times when we forget that we are all children of God,
for times when we do not stand up for the helpless among us.
By your tender mercy,
may the dawn from on high break upon us,
and give light to those of us that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.

 

Assurance of Forgiveness
By the mercy and grace of our Good God,
we may live in peace with one another
for we have been forgiven
and Christ welcomes us
as a parent welcomes home a long-lost child.
Alleluia! Amen!

 

Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY

illumination: that we may cling to your heart

Draw us from our tombs…
from the dark, self-imposed prisons of knowing-it-all…
into the light of your unflinching good news.
Use our encounters with the stories of scripture
to unbind us from our fascination with the status quo…
so that we may cling to your heart,
and see the world through your eyes.
Amen.

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)