CALL TO WORSHIP
I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn,
Yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
Eternal God, we have gathered in your presence because our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your word. May this morning’s worship service fill us with longing for Christ our Savior, and give us the strength to grow in your love. And may this Advent season find us welcoming his truth, even as we rejoice in the holy Name of the One whose coming we await
LIGHTING OF THE FIRST ADVENT CANDLE
The night has long been upon us. We long for the light—the fulfillment of God's promise of wholeness.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!
Though the light has not yet arrived, we wait and watch for the dawning of God's glory. We light this candle of hope to shine in the darkness. It reminds us to stay awake and keep watch, for the Promised One is on his way.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
[The first purple candle is lit.]
Let us pray.
How we long for the light of your presence, O Holy God! Guide us from the night of our hopelessness and lead us toward the dawning of your new day. Amen.
—Chalice Worship (alt.)
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Lord Jesus Christ! Your love has brought us together to begin a new Christian year. Now begins the season when we meditate on your coming into the world. We are told that, in your incarnation, you give us all your love. And yet we remain focused on ourselves. We have heard your word and we sing your praise. But there is very little Advent hope in our hearts. In your grace, you turn to us and make your face to shine upon us. But we cannot spare a thought for those whose lives are lived in darkness. Forgive us, we pray. Come to us where we are, and move us to where you are— not in the palaces of the rich, but in the tenements of the poor. Give us ears to hear your redeeming word, hearts to receive it, and hands to share it with others. Like Mary, help us to ponder all that you make known to us, in your precious Name. Amen.
—Inspired by the German Reformed liturgy
During the Advent season, we await the coming of Christ into the world. Yet even during this time of waiting, we know his presence in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. So no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, come, you are welcome at the table: Christ accepts our lives and our gifts.
You come to us, Lord Jesus: Into a world of noise and confusion, you will come to us quietly, as a Child. Into a world of darkness, you will bring light. Into a world of greed, you will come as the perfect gift— the gift of grace from our Creator. Into a world filled with hunger and thirst, you will give us the bread of life and the cup of salvation. As we await your coming, let us receive the bread and wine, remembering your sacrifice made in love for us. Feed us, refresh us, and raise us to new life. We pray in your Name. Amen.
—Fed by God's Grace (alt.)
SONG OF SIMEON
Lord, now dismiss your servant in peace according to your word, for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all people: A light to shine on the Gentiles, and to be the glory of your people Israel.
As you go forth into the week, may you be filled with hope. Have hope in your hearts and share your hope with those who despair. And may the love of + God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.