a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

CTW: wonder and worship

Today we sabbath, we take rest in the Lord our God.
We put aside productivity to wonder and worship.
Today we sabbath, to do a different kind of work.
We have gathered to do liturgy, the work of the people.
Today we sabbath, for the world does not revolve around us.
We revolve around God and God’s goodness and grace.
Come, let us worship God!

 

Submitted by Stephen M. Fearing, Beaumont Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY

confession: prepared

call to confession
We are called to lift up our souls to God.
Often, we would prefer only to lift up the parts of our soul that we are proud of.
But it is equally important that we lift up to God our sins as well.
Let us do so together with honesty and courage.
Prayer of Confession
We are told to be on guard, to be prepared for your coming.

We confess, merciful God, that too often we are lazy
and do not trouble ourselves with the prayerful sabbath
that is required on this Advent road.
Help us to be alert at all times,
to be aware of your presence in our lives.
Make us to know your ways, O Lord;
teach us your paths and lead us in your truth.
This pray in your holy and merciful name. Amen.

 

Assurance of Pardon
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us
that the days are surely coming
when God will fulfill the promise God made to us.
A righteous branch is springing up!
God shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
The Lord is our righteousness!
Friends, I proclaim to you that our sins are forgiven!
Alleluia! Amen!

 

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

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

morning prayer: respite from our task-filled days

God of this new morning…

As the sounds of sunrise stir us from our slumber…
As the birds chirp their songs outside our windows…
As the squirrels scamper from tree to tree…

we celebrate the gift of rest…
the gift of sabbath…
the gift that reminds us to take care of ourselves…
so that the moments when we’re overwhelmed
by the burdens and challenges of life
might find balance with the much needed moments
of relaxation and self-indulgence.

We have all gathered here,
if only for a few days,
to find respite from our task-filled days.

We have all gathered here,
if only for a few days,
to be inspired with new ideas
and new visions of what it means to be “church”.

We have all gathered here,
if only for a few days,
to eat,
to drink,
to sing,
to dance,
and to play…

to create,
and to be RE-created…

to hear,
to smell,
to feel,
to taste
and to see your goodness!

We give thanks for the community we share at UNCO…
even this morning…
whether we struggle to stay alert
in our pre-caffeinated trances;
we struggle to stay focused
with each soothing, intra-caffeinated sip;
or we struggle to stay still
in our post-caffeinated restlessness.

In the aftermath of many spoken words
and many ingested thoughts…
give legs to those things that should not lose momentum…
so that vision, energy, and creativity
are not stifled by skepticism, traditionalism,
or any other “-ism” that seeks to sabotage
the potential that you see…
the potential that you CREATED…
within each of us.

Draw us closer to you…
and draw us closer to one another…

so that when we travel in all directions
back to our homes…
back to the churches we serve…
back to the ministries in which we participate…
back to our task-filled days…
we might be drawn closer to the world around us
that is longing to hear and SEE real good news

that has no conditions…
no punchlists…
no barriers…
and no secret handshakes.

This IS our prayer…even now…
as we sing the familiar words of Jesus’ prayer together…

(We closed with a sung version of “The Lord’s Prayer”)

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY), this prayer was used in a morning prayer service at Unconference East at Stony Point Conference center (Stony Point, NY) on May 23, 2012.