a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Christmas Affirmation

We believe that God has come to us as a little child,
making our weakness his strength,
securing our salvation by becoming one of us,
blessing us with with a steadfast savior,
filling our hearts with joy to be shared with one another.
We believe that God has birthed righteousness and justice into the world,
giving us a law that will be written upon our hearts,
making the cause of the oppressed the highest priority,
declaring an everlasting reign of peace,
defeating the power of pain and suffering.
We believe that God calls us to participate in this reality of love,
inviting us to proclaim Christ’s resurrection at the Table,
transforming us as disciples to go out into the world,
sending us forth to announce his kingdom of peace and comfort,
challenging us to see everyone as nothing less than beloved children.
This we believe.
This we preach.
This we seek to embody in word and deed.

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

Christmas Eve wreath lighting

Lighting the Four Candles

(the sung response between each candle is optional. For the Christ Candle liturgy, scroll to the bottom)    

Together, we light this candle of hope
to represent the longing that resides in our hearts:
for a safer world,
for a world rid of warfare and oppression,
fear and hatred.
Only light will drive out the darkness.
    This hope is found in the God who has come to save us.

Light One Candle For Messiah–Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 1)

Together, we light this candle of peace
to represent the unity we have amongst each other:
as human beings,
as beloved children of God,
as disciples called to live in harmony with one another.
Only as partners in peace can we stand against violence.
This peace is found in a newborn child, cradled in his mother’s arms.

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 2)

Together, we light this candle of joy
to represent the delight that is found in the coming of our savior:
in the birth of hope,
in the fruition of faithfulness,
in the warmth of God’s love for a broken world.
Only joy can give us strength to continue our work.
    This joy is found in a God who finds joy in us!

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 3)

    Together, we light this candle of love
to represent the home we have in God’s steadfast shalom:
a home built with peace and kindness,
righteousness and justice,
where all are invited to the Table to partake in the feast.
Only love can bring us together.  Only love can save our souls.
    This love is found tonight in a manger, in Mary’s arm and in our own.

Hymn No. 85 in Glory to God (verse 4)

~~~~~~~
Christ Candle
    Our wait is over, the Christ-child is here!
    Long we have waited, long we have watched for his coming.
God is not satisfied to remain apart from us, God must be one among us.
    We are God’s people, shepherd of God’s flock,
children of God’s redeeming.
We light this candle to represent Christ’s presence, his everlasting reign.
    We give thanks to God for the fulfillment of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY

illumination: light to our path

God of all peace and joy,
send your Spirit to this place
to bless this our reading of your word
that it may be a lamp to our feet
and a light unto our path. Amen.

 

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

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

benedictions for Advent

A Hopeful Benediction
Be people of hope.
Let hope live in your heart and share the hope of Christ with all you meet.
Share hope by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share hope by listening to someone’s story.
Share hope by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share hope.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Peaceful Benediction
Be people of peace.
Let peace live in your heart and share the peace of Christ with all you meet.
Share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear.
Share peace by listening to all sides of the story.
Share peace by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share peace.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share peace and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Joyful Benediction
Be people of joy.
Let joy live in your heart and share the joy of Christ with all you meet.
Share joy by seeing the good in each other.
Share joy by remembering good times and hoping for good times to come.
Share joy by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share joy.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Loving Benediction
Be people of love.
Let love live in your heart and share the love of Christ with all you meet.
Share love by loving those you see regularly. Start by loving your community.
Share love by loving those you do not know. How do your actions affect the rest of God’s creation?
Share love by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share love.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share love, joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

Christmas Eve Benediction
Tonight, as we celebrate God is with us in the birth of Jesus, let us continue to live lives of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Share God’s love with the shepherds you meet on the hillside.
Let the communion of the Holy Spirit fill your heart with glad tidings like the angels.
And the Prince of Peace born again tonight, may He live in your heart to comfort and challenge you as you seek to live as one of his disciples. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Christ Congregational Church & Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, Takoma Park MD

confession: worldly treasures

Call to Confession

God alone is perfect. As imperfect people, we try and fail to follow God’s will. But God has offered us forgiveness. Together let us confess our shortcomings and ask for mercy.

Confession

God of all, we admit that we often chase after worldly treasures.  We desire more; more power, more stuff, and more privilege. We repent of our evil desires. Lead us away from our greed into your peace. Teach us to walk in your ways and delight in your paths instead of following those of our own creation.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Comfort, comfort you my people. God tells us of peace. Our sins have been covered in God’s mercy and forgiveness. Through the work of Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

 

Submitted by Rev. Nikki Cooley, First Presbyterian Church, Liberty, MO

hymn: Advent Kyrie

Each verse could be used independently (one per week) during the confession sequence.

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

Advent Candles: hopeful anticipation

Week 1: Hope

Without hope, we have no direction, no purpose.
As we begin the season of Advent,
we wait in hopeful anticipation
of the newness God has brought and is bringing to this world.
We seek to live as a people of hope,
with our hearts set on our the life to come,
and our eyes set on the work we’re called to do in the meantime.
We light this candle to symbolize our hope in Jesus’ birth.
We gather to share this hope with one another.

 

Week 2: Peace

Without peace, we have no solace, no fulfillment.
As we continue the season of Advent,
we wait in hopeful anticipation
of the peace the Christ-child will bring to a weary world.
We seek to live as a people of peace,
working toward a world free of violence and vengeance,
where all can live free of abuse and fear.
We light this candle to symbolize the peace of Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this peace with one another.

 

Week 3: Joy

Without joy, we have no fulfillment to our lives.
As we continue the season of Advent,
we wait in joyful anticipation
of the happiness the Christ-child will bring to a world that needs it so desperately.
We seek to live as a people of joy
that share it with everyone we encounter,
to bless others with the happiness we have in Jesus Christ.
We light this candle to symbolize the joy we have in Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this joy with one another.

 

Week 4: Love

Without love, we have nothing,
wandering aimlessly in a world without hope.
As the season of Advent comes to a close,
we wait for love by practicing it,
by embodying the truth we trust in God-with-us.
We seek to live as people of love,
reciprocating that which has first been shown to us.
We light this candle to symbolize the love we have in Christ’s presence.
We gather to share this love with one another.

 

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

CTW: in this sacred space

Gather in this sacred space
and hear God inviting us to imagine and create!
Gather in this sacred space
and know that the peace of Christ surrounds us!
Gather in this sacred space
and let the Spirit of God inspire us once again!
Gather in this sacred space
and let’s worship God together!

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

Advent Candles–Sabbath

[This is a candle-lighting sequence for Advent following a 4-week theme of Sabbath – preaching each week on “Sabbath Hope”, “Sabbath Peace”, “Sabbath Joy” and “Sabbath Love”]

 

Advent 1

Today is the first Sunday in Advent – a four-week long journey preparing the way for Christ to be born again. This year, our Advent journey is more of a “stay-cation” – a Sabbath from the hectic lives, noise, and advertisements that bombard us in the world. We read in Genesis 2 that:

“On the seventh day, God had finished the work of creation, so God rested from all the work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when God rested from all the work of creation.”

So we, too, have hope for a time of rest – a time set apart this season to remember God and contemplate all that God has done in the world.

We light the first candle to call us together to focus on the hope of quiet rest shared as a communal Sabbath.

The first purple candle is lit 

O God, we light the first candle of advent. We light the candle of hope.

 

Advent 2

Today, we continue our Advent journey in God’s Sabbath, a time of peace and quiet. We recognize that peace is not yet achieved, and pray for God’s peace to come to our chaotic world.  We read in John 14 that Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

So we, too, have hope for peace. We light these two candles to call us together to focus on the peace of a community worshiping together, united by our love for God.

the first two purple candles are lit

O God, we light the second candle of advent. We light the candles of hope and peace.

 

Advent 3

Today, we celebrate the joy of the Sabbath, a time of appreciation for work well done. We remember Jesus’ resurrection and long for his return. There may be lots of work left to do before that glorious day, but we are intentional about taking time to praise God in the meanwhile! In Deuteronomy 5, we read:

“Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but Adonai brought you out with a strong hand and a powerful arm. That is why Adonai has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.”

So, we take joy in our rest, for it reveals that we are a free people – and that we should extend the joy of rest to all in our lives.

We light these three candles to remember the joy of being set apart, a Sabbath to the world, in hope and peace.

the first two purple candles and the pink candle are lit

O God, we light the third candle of advent. We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.

 

Advent 4

Today, we finish our Advent preparations and bask in the love of Christ. We remember how Christ showed love to both his disciples and complete strangers, healing, feeding, and walking closely even with the outcasts in his community. We, too, want to be prepared to follow Christ’s awesome way of love. We read in Mark 12 that Jesus said:

“The most important commandment is this: “Listen, O Israel! Adonai is the one and only God! You must love Adonai with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

So we, on this Sabbath day, remember Jesus’ words, and try to put them into practice.

We light these four candles to remember God’s love for us, which calls us to be set apart in joy, hope, and peace.

three purple candles and the pink candle are lit

O God, we light the fourth candle of advent. We light the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love.

 

Christmas Eve

Today, we welcome Christ into our lives once again!  As we remember the special circumstances of Jesus’ birth, we remember, too, the light of preparation from our Advent Journey into Sabbath.

the first purple candle is lit

The candle of hope, calling us to wonder what might be in the year to come

the second purple candle is lit

The candle of peace, calling us to step away from the hustle and bustle of the world

the pink candle is lit

The candle of joy, calling us to praise God for freedom from oppression

the third purple candle is lit

The candle of love, calling us to love God and each other from Sabbath to Sabbath

All of these candles light the path for Christ’s return – not as a conquering hero, but as a little, helpless child. We read in Isaiah 9:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light… For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity!”

So, we light the Christ candle, signifying that God’s hope, peace, joy, and love are realized in Christ Jesus.

the white candle is lit

O God, we light the Christ candle, knowing that you are present with us at all times, but remembering especially when you were present with us in the flesh as Jesus Christ.

God, we welcome you into our midst! We long to bring you gifts, to touch your robe, to know the beautiful sound of your voice in our earthly ears. Our waiting is rewarded – not in the way we expect, but in the wonderful Good News of your birth, heralded by heavenly messengers and earthly shepherds alike. Help us to see you in each other, and to be set apart as your hope, peace, joy, and love in the world! Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Ancho + Corona Presbyterian Churches, New Mexico