Hanging Of The Greens / Advent Liturgy

Hi Friends!

I will get my sermon from Sunday posted ASAP, but in the meantime – if you are starting Advent on Sunday and are scrambling for liturgy, feel free to use mine from this past Sunday!  We started Advent a week early (we will be celebrating Christmas Eve the morning of 12/24 – not Advent 4), so we did our Hanging of the Greens service this past Sunday.  I hope they help!

Call To Worship
Hanging of the Greens / Advent

O come, o come, Emmanuel!
Advent is finally here!
Advent is a season of waiting;
but it is also a season of hope, peace, joy and love.
During Advent, we wait:
We wait for God to come into our midst,
     to burst forth into the world
         and transform our lives.
But today, we also transform our sanctuary
     so, as we wait this Advent season,
         we can find:
     hope in candles and lights
         that flicker in the darkness,
     peace in wreaths placed on our doors,
         that symbolize to all people
               that they are welcome here,
     joy in evergreens
        that remind us of God’s everlasting presence in our lives
     and love in ornaments
         that teach us about Christ.
As we wait this Advent season,
     the Christmas story will come alive!
Emmanuel means, God with us!
Let us worship God with us!
Come, Emmanuel, come!
Let us worship God!

***

Prayer of Confession
Hanging of the Greens / Advent

     Emmanuel, God with us: You burst forth into the world so many years ago so that we could be redeemed. Over and over again, you fulfilled the promises you made to us; a promise of hope, a promise of peace, a promise of joy and a promise of love.
     Yet there are times in our lives when we do not live up to the grace you have given us. We take for granted the depth of your love and the power of your light.
     Emmanuel, this Advent season, open our hearts so that on Christmas Day, we will be ready to receive you in our midst and be living testaments of the Christmas story. Amen.

***

Invitation to Offering
Advent

During the season of Advent we wait for God to come into our midst.
While we wait, we give back to those in need; practicing generosity so that others will experience the hope, peace, joy and love that God brings.
Our weekly offering will now be collected.

***

Offering Prayer of Dedication
Advent

Emmanuel, God with us, take these gifts and transform them into tangible signs of your work, so that as you break forth into the world and our lives this Christmas season, all might see and recognize you. Amen.

Call To Worship {extravagant welcome, church community, this is my father’s world}

I wrote this Call to Worship for last Sunday’s worship service.  I was preaching on the parable of the dishonest manager, but this really had nothing to do with that.  I just wanted a nice way to open up our service.  In a way, we are still welcoming people back from the summer (our Rally Day numbers were down this year and our attendance actually increased the week later, which never happens!) so I wanted our Call to Worship to reflect that.  We also opened with the hymn, This Is My Father’s World, and I thought this led in nicely.

***

CALL TO WORSHIP
THEMES: EXTRAVAGANT WELCOME, CHURCH COMMUNITY, USED WITH HYMN ‘THIS IS MY FATHER’S WORLD’

Come to this place of worship and reflection:
A place where we can worship God and grow in our faith.
Come to this place of extravagant welcome:
A place where ALL are welcome!
Come to this place of safety and security:
A place where it is okay to be who we are.
Come to this place of light, love and grace:
A place where light shines in darkness, love triumphs over hate and grace always intercedes when we need it most.
Come to this place where God is taking us on a spectacular journey!
We are here and we are ready! Let us worship God!

Rally Day Prayer Of Confession

Sunday’s Prayer of Confession … it was Rally Day and I was preaching on the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  I actually ended up tying the prayer into my sermon and the idea of being “drawn back” has been on my mind ever since.  It’s driving me nuts!  I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing landscape of ministry – especially the prevalence of sports and activities on Sunday and I feel like God is drawing the church back to … something.

I just don’t know what it is yet.

Anyway, this particular prayer might not be super helpful at the moment (it was specifically for Rally Day and using the lectionary last week) but you might be able to adapt it for another purpose.

***

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
RALLY DAY, PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP, NEW SCHOOL YEAR
Sarah Weaver (c) 2016

We are so happy to gather together today, O God; to see our church family, to feel the buzz of a new year and to prayerfully wonder what possibilities are in store for us.
We confess that the flexibility of summer has caused us to fall out of some of our routines. We have missed opportunities to center ourselves in prayer, to serve and to be in community. Like in the parable of the lost sheep, we can feel ourselves wandering off.
But, just as the sheep was found and brought home again, so, too, are we drawn back:
Drawn back to you.
Drawn back to our church.
And drawn back to the person you are calling us to be.
So help us, O God. Calm the chaos in our lives. Encourage us to set goals, to find structure and to center our lives on you. And may our year be filled with unexpected grace. Amen.