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First Sunday Of Advent

Worship
Lectionary Worship Workbook
Series IV, Cycle B
This Sunday's passages reflect a cry for God to restore. In Isaiah 63 and the Psalm there is a deep longing for God to restore the fortunes of Israel. The Mark passage speaks of Christ's return (the Parousia) and the restoration of all things that will occur at that time. First Corinthians 1:1-7 reminds us that Christians are called to live holy lives as we eagerly await the restoration.

Our prayers will focus on this theme of restoration as well as offering some traditional First Sunday of Advent material.


Call To Worship

This first Call To Worship cries out for the Lord to come quickly!
Leader:
Maranatha!
People:
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Leader:
Come with a flash across the sky,
People:
That every eye may see.
Leader:
Come with your refining fire
People:
To cleanse this earth of all injustice;
Leader:
To cleanse each soul of every sin;
People:
To purify away everything that pollutes your people
Leader:
And all that corrodes your creation.
People:
Come quickly, Lord Jesus,
Leader:
That your creation
People:
Might be restored to the Eden you desire it to be.
Leader:
Maranatha!
People:
Amen.

Our second option for a Call To Worship would be to use verses 1 and 2 of this week's Psalm.
Leader:
Hear us, O shepherd of Israel.
People:
You who watch over your children like a flock,
Leader:
Sitting enthroned between the angels,
People:
Shining forth before your beloved ones.
Leader:
Awaken your power,
People:
Come and save us.
Leader:
Restore us,
People:
Make your face shine upon us and we will be saved.
Leader:
Amen.

If your congregation does an Advent candlelighting ceremony you may want to turn to one of the more traditional Advent passages on this first Sunday. We have chosen Isaiah 9:1-7. Note that the candles are alternately called the Prophets' Candle, the Bethlehem Candle, the Shepherds' Candle, and the Angels' Candle -- or -- the Hope Candle, the Peace Candle, the Love Candle, and the Joy Candle. They are essentially interchangeable and we use them as such below, and on the following Sundays of Advent.
Leader:
The people who walked in darkness
People:
Have seen a great light.
Leader:
They have been filled with joy,
People:
Like the joy of discovering great riches.
Leader:
Their burdens have been lifted,
People:
Their chains have been broken.
Leader:
All the weapons of war,
People:
All the blood-soaked garments,
Leader:
Will be burned and forgotten.
People:
For to us a Child is born!
Leader:
To us a Son is given.
People:
And he will rule
Leader:
And his name will be -- Wonderful Counselor!
People:
Mighty God!
Leader:
Everlasting Father!
People:
Prince of Peace!
Leader:
And he will reign forever.
People:
And there will be peace,
Leader:
And justice,
People:
And righteousness,
Leader:
Forever.
People:
Amen!
(The lighting of the Prophets' Candle)

The next one could be used for any of the first three weeks in Advent. We put it here only to give you the choice.
Leader:
He was in heaven with God.
People:
He was one with the Father.
Leader:
In fact he was God.
People:
But he and the Father loved us so
Leader:
That he humbled himself
People:
And came into our world
Leader:
To be born a helpless infant
People:
In a crowded backwoods town,
Leader:
In a barn.
People:
But when that humble package was delivered
Leader:
And laid in a manger
People:
Hope was born.
Leader:
The hope that all people, every race and color and culture and creed,
People:
Can be saved from sin and death,
Leader:
Forever.
People:
Glory to God. Hope has come.
(The lighting of the Prophets' Candle)

We have also included a first-person monologue you can use to open the service. This monologue is spoken by an Old Testament period prophet looking ahead to the time of the birth of the Christ Child. This monologue is also based on Isaiah 9.

The Prophet

Once -- long ago -- in a time when there was darkness and fear upon the land -- God gave these words to be spoken: (Pause here)

The time will come, my people, when there will be no more sorrow for the sad.

For the people walking in darkness will see a great light;

And God will enlarge us and increase our joy;

So we will rejoice as people rejoice at a plentiful harvest.

For just as God once defeated the enemies of his people,

He will again shatter them and the chains that bind us will be broken.

every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood

will be burnt as fuel for the fire -- no longer needed.

For to us a child will be born, to us a son will be given, and the government will be on his shoulders -- and he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And of the growth of his government and of peace there will be no end.

He will reign over his kingdom, upholding it with justice and righteousness forever.

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him --


the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,


the Spirit of counsel and of power,


the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,


or decide by what he hears with his ears;


but with righteousness he will make his judgments,


with justice he will make decisions for the poor of the earth.

In his kingdom the wolf will live with the lamb,


the leopard will lie down with the goat,


the calf and the lion together;


and a little child will lead them.

They will neither harm nor destroy one another under his rule,


for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord


as the waters cover the sea.

And all the nations will rally to him -- and it will be glorious.

These words were given by God more than 2,000 years ago

And I give them to you, again, today.

For a child has been born;

And in every heart where he rules,

There is peace and power -- wisdom and love,

And glory upon glory shall be to these hearts.
(Light one purple or blue candle -- the Prophets' Candle)


Prayer Of Confession

This first Prayer Of Confession pairs well with the first Call To Worship above.
Leader:
Stay awake!
People:
Be alert.
Leader:
For you have no idea when your Master might return.
People:
But we do know this,
Leader:
That if the homeowner knew what time of night the burglars would arrive
People:
He would have been there armed to prevent the break-in.
Leader:
Let us be prepared then,
People:
For we do not know when the Master will return!
Leader:
Master -- forgive us for living as if you will never return;
People:
For living to please ourselves
Leader:
Rather than you.
People:
Awaken us
Leader:
That we might begin to live alert lives,
People:
Ready for your return,
Leader:
Today, tomorrow, and always.
People:
Amen.

This prayer will go well with either the candlelighting reading based on Isaiah 9 or with the Prophet's monologue.
Leader:
And his name shall be called -- Wonderful!
People:
Really?
Leader:
Counselor!
People:
Uh-huh.
Leader:
Mighty God!
People:
Is that so?
Leader:
Everlasting Father!
People:
Well.
Leader:
Prince of Peace!
People:
You don't say.
Leader:
Lord -- forgive us for such matter-of-fact responses to your majesty and holiness,
People:
And grace and love.
Leader:
And as we enter the season of preparation for your coming into our lives
People:
Remind us of the honor,
Leader:
And wonder,
People:
Of knowing you. Amen.


Assurance Of Pardon

Based on Isaiah 63:7-9.
Leader:
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
People:
Of the deeds for which he is to be praised.
Leader:
I will tell of all the Lord has done for us,
People:
Which he has done according to his compassion and kindness.
Leader:
He said, "Surely they are my people."
People:
And so he became our Savior.
Leader:
In all our distress God too was distressed,
People:
And the angel of his presence saved us.
Leader:
In his love and mercy he redeemed us;
People:
Lifted us up and carried us.
Leader:
Praise God for our salvation!
People:
Amen.


Prayer For Illumination
Lord, it is the most familiar of stories. We have heard it so often that it no longer strikes a fresh chord. It no longer astounds or amazes us. It seems routine, even boring. Shine the light of your hope through all the darkness in our world and our lives that we might hear anew the amazing truths that we begin to celebrate this Sunday. We ask it in the name of incarnate God. Amen.


Pastoral Prayer
As we think of your Second Coming, when the creation will be restored to its original glory and harmony, we are reminded that there are many in this world of ours who have not yet experienced your first coming. Entering this season turns our attention to that first coming long ago in the obscurity of the ancient holy lands. Lord, open our eyes to the opportunities that you place before us each day to share you, and the good news of your coming, with the many people in our lives who have not met you. May we truly be your ambassadors during the season leading to Christmas' joy.


Benediction
If you like scriptural benedictions, use these verses from the Epistle Reading, 1 Corinthians 1:7-9.
Therefore, you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

Or if you prefer, the following can serve as a benediction as well.
The very name of Jesus means "The Lord saves." Go in the knowledge that in Jesus, our God has saved us from all sin, all darkness, even death. Amen.


Hymns

Arise, The Kingdom Is At Hand

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Honor And Praise

O Son Of God Come While We Wait For Thee

Once He Came In Blessing

Of The Father's Love Begotten

When Came In Flesh The Incarnate Word


Contemporary Choruses

Come, Now Is the Time to Worship, Brian Doerksen

Cry Of My Hear, Terry Butler

Draw Me Close
, Kelly Carpenter

Emmanuel
, Bob McGee


Other Music

Emmanuel, Michael W. Smith
This is a wonderful, well-known song for your soloists. It was written by Michael W. Smith and made popular by Amy Grant.
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