Advent 4: Participating in a new plan

On the final Sunday of Advent we are invited to become more than spectators to Christ’s coming; participants in God’s new plan for all people to know God’s gift of salvation.

This week’s readings are:

  • Micah 5:2-5a – the promise of shepherd ruler with an ancient and strong ancestry being birthed in the lowly and unexpected town of Bethlehem to gather together all of God’s people in a good and safe home;
  • Psalm 80:1-7 – a cry for restoration and salvation; for the Shepherd enthroned among the Angel Armies to shine his light upon the hopeless and humiliated;
  • Hebrews 10:5-10 – Christ Jesus accepts God’s new plan to save God’s people – not through burnt offerings and sacrifice but through the painful once-and-for-all sacrifice of God’s son – with the declaration, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will, my God,”
  • Luke 1:39-55 (including the Magnificat) – Elizabeth affirms Mary’s blessedness in believing the promises made to her, and Mary responds with a heartfelt prayer of praise to the One who will do great things for and through her, that generation after generation might come to know of God’s justice and mercy.

Call to worship (based on the Micah reading):
We go this day to Bethlehem,
smallest among all the clans of Judah.
Why would we go to a place so lowly?
Can we find anything of significance in a place so small?
We go to find a Shepherd born to lead his people to safety,
a King whose origins are from ancient times.
Looks can be deceiving!
And truly we have looked in all the wrong places,

been scattered in our search for security and peace.
Open our eyes to the majesty of the God-revealed,
the Peacemaker of the whole world.
Come, Lord Jesus, come our Shepherd-King
that we might worship and adore You.

Prayers of praise and confession (based on the Magnificat and Psalm 80):
With hearts and hands and voices, glorify the Lord.
Within the very depths of who you are, rejoice in God, our Saviour,
who looks beyond what others see,
beyond the sin and shame of our fragile humanity,
with eyes of love and favour.

Surely the Shepherd of Israel,
the Lord Almighty,
has done great things – for you, for me.

A God of mercy and of strength,
he lifts up the meek and lowly
and fills the hungry with all good things.

Just as we think that the world belongs to the proud and the powerful,
bring us back to You, God.
    Turn the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued from this world of darkness.

Just as we despair at the growing distance between rich and poor,
bring us back to You, God.
    Turn the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued from this world of darkness.

Just as we arrogantly grasp for control over the circumstances and struggles of our lives,
Bring us back to You, God.
    Turn the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued from this world of darkness.

*silence*

May the God of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
the God who is faithful from generation to generation,
remember us in mercy forever.
For indeed, from generation to generation,
God’s lovingkindness endures for those who revere Him.
Bring us back to You, God.
    Turn the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued from this world of darkness.
Amen.

Communion liturgy (based on the passages from Hebrews and Psalms):
Holy God, faithful and true,
once the only way that people could enter into the glory of Your presence
was by offering a sacrifice for their sins,
a burned offering as laid down in Your Law.

Yet as they remained a rebellious and selfish people
and broke Your Law – just as we so often do,
Your Love entered into the world in a new way.

We remember this day, at this table,
in these simple elements of bread and wine,
Christ Jesus, the Shepherd-King,
who came to do Your will:
to secure for us our free and full salvation.

Once, Your people were starving;
besieged by their enemies,
full only of hopelessness and despair.
This day, we remember bread blessed and broken:
“Your body broken for me that I might be hopeful and whole.”

Once, Your people were drowning;
drinking tears of bitterness and regret,
drinking salty tears by the bucketful.
This day, we remember wine poured and shared:
“Your blood shed for me that I might be forgiven and consoled.”

 

And so, as we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we receive the healing, restoring gift of Your Spirit and we pray:
Bring us back to You, God.
    Turn the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued from this world of darkness.
Amen.

The benediction (based on the Gospel reading):
As John leapt in his mother’s womb
in recognition of the power and the presence of the unborn Jesus,
may our lives reflect Your light, Your love,
in a way which fills the world with hope and peace
this day and evermore. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: