Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Five--the Advent of Advent

Five Things About Advent

Photo--Tom ('Mas) Pickering via Flickr; used under Creative Commons License
1. I love Advent--there is something about the expectation, the preparations, both in the church and in the world, that makes this such a time of possibility. It is a sad truth that Advent is a busy time for clergy. Just when I would like to be settling in for quiet contemplation and preparation, I am busy with preparations for our congregation's annual meeting, the Pride Centre's annual meeting, extra worship services, and my own holiday planning.

2. My image of Advent is a candle on a windowsill--waiting, watching, hoping, prepared, for the One who will come in the dark night. There's also a sense of safety, warmth, and coziness that I think is born of my memories of coming home on wintry Michigan afternoons, cold and possibly wet, from the walk home from the bus stop, the light from the stars we hung in our windows casting a soft golden glow of invitation, guiding me home.

3. My most poignant memories of Advent are of the year I was expecting my son. He was due January 2, and so that Advent and Christmas I felt especially close to Mary, experiencing that last month of pregnancy before the birth. All those Braxton-Hicks contractions, the sensation of waddling more than walking (I should mention that I am 5'5", and my son weighed 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth, and was 23 inches long....), the collecting of baby needs at the same time we were Christmas shopping... Setting up the crib and the Christmas tree at the same time...

4. I've been on a bit of a journey the last few years, and this year I feel settled enough emotionally and literally that I want to do my usual Advent baking/cooking (several kinds of Christmas cookies, hot spiced wine, eggnog, etc.). But my apartment kitchen is so small and has so little counter space that cookies have to cool on my desk and the top of the microwave. This makes it difficult to bake much. Still, a batch or two here and there--I will do my best this year.

5. Advent really means "coming to"--Christ "coming to" us. But we can also see it as us "coming to" awareness of Christ--in the world, in each other, in ourselves. Christ is born in many ways, only one of which is a manger.

Narrative Lectionary Prayers for November 16, 2014

Call to Worship
One: Come, my friends! It is time!
Many: We were glad when they said to us, it is time to worship.
One: Come and celebrate our God!
Many: We have received so much from God’s bounty—the material needs of life, grace, hope, and love.

One: Come, give thanks and celebrate!

Reconciliation/Assurance of Pardon
One: My friends, we are only human.
Many: And that is grief enough to bow a ruler’s head and honour enough to lift a beggar’s head.
One: Let us go to God in prayer and contrition. Holy One, we know we have not done what we should have done; and sometimes we did what we should not have.
Many: We have ignored the needy; turned away our friends; used our gifts and graces for minor things instead of bringing about your realm.
One: We could not bring ourselves to do what we knew you would have us do. For all these, we ask with confidence for your grace and forgiveness, and resolve to be our better selves.
Many: We know that you have forgiven us before we ask; therefore we thank you, Holy One.
One: In the name of the Christ, we are forgiven!
Many: We are forgiven!

Benediction
One: It is time to go.
Many: Time to go out into the world again.
One: Wherever your path leads you in the coming days, God goes with you
Many: God is always present, to guide, and lead, and strengthen.
One: May the love of God, creator, redeemer and sustainer, remain with you now and unto your life eternal. Amen.
Many: Amen.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Narrative Lectionary Prayers and Communion November 9, 2014

Call to Worship 
One: Once again, we are here.
Many: We have come looking for comfort, for refreshment, for another taste of God’s presence in our lives.
One: It is good for us to be here.

Many: And it is good for us to take the good news, the comfort, the refreshment, into the world for those who need them.

Reconciliation
One: It has been another week, O God, and once again we must admit to stumbling.
Many: Once again, we have not done what we wished to do, or done it poorly.
One: Forgive our weakness, give us strength and courage to do what we know is right.
Many: For we know that nothing can separate us from your love. Amen.
One: My friends, before we have asked, God has forgiven us. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven!
Many: We are forgiven! Thanks be to God!

 Communion
One: Lift up your hearts!
Many: We lift them up to our living God!
One: God of all creation, you made humans in your image, giving us your divine impulse to create and do new things. But in our arrogance, we took the earth as a possession, without thought for tomorrow, our sisters and brothers to come, or your divine plan. We mocked the ones you sent to set us back on your path. We call them saints but do not always follow their teachings, whining that they are too difficult for us. So in the end you sent Jesus the Christ, bearing witness to your grace and healing power, to show your presence with us always. And on the night before he paid the ultimate price for proclaiming your truth, he gathered with his friends in an upper room. There he took the bread, blessed it after the manner of his people, and broke it, then shared it among them with these words:
Many: This is my body, opened for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
One: And when the meal was over, he took the cup and blessed it after the manner of his people, then passed it among his friends with these words:
Many: This is my love, poured out for you and for all nations. Do this in remembrance of me.
One: Remembering all that God has given us, remembering the saints who have gone before us, testifying to your grace, we are bold to proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Many: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Go and tell!
One: Gracious God, we ask that you would make these gifts of grain and grape to be what we need them to be, in order for us to carry your love and healing with us. Pour out your spirit on cup and bread; make them a foretaste of your heaven and our hope. Amen.

Benediction
One: We have shared in the words of God, in the bread of life, our joys and our fears. Now as we go out into the world again, we take the wisdom, the strength, and the hope of God with us.
Many: Amen! Thanks be to God.
One: The love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ go with you now and always, Amen.