Read-along Service for Sunday, November 28, 2021 – 1st of Advent

Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church
Order of Worship
November 28, 2021 – First Sunday of Advent

Prelude
Words of welcome, announcements
Lighting of The Advent Candle

Reader 1: Today we light one candle – the Candle called HOPE. It is a reminder that God’s promises are true.

Reader 2: We place our hope in God.

Reader 1: We place our lives in God’s care.

Reader 2: Come, all is ready. Let the light of this one candle, called HOPE, bring brightness to your spirits.

Advent Candlelight Carol

Advent candle burning bright through the night,
shine your light of hope
telling people everywhere;
soon the Savior comes, soon He will be here!
People gather and prepare in the night with the light of hope.

Call To worship

Come in, come in, all you who have faith, and all who have none. Come in, all who are cheerful, and all who are despairing. This is a welcome place for those who have hope and all who are hope-less. What ultimately matters to God is that you are here. We are entering the time of Advent. This is when we do the work of preparing for Christmas. For if God is to be born again in the most ordinary parts of our world and our lives then we need to prepare for it.

We need to make space in our lives where hope might be born. Where peace might grow, where joy might blossom and love might shine for all to see. We live in a world that often feels harsh and dark. This is a place where we shine a light together. Come, gather around the light of God’s presence.  So we can all learn how to shine.

Prayer of Approach

God of grace and mercy, be present with us as gather for worship. As we follow your ways, may a spirit of hope grow in us. In the ever-changing world where we find ourselves, help us to know and be assured of your unending compassion for all living things. Hold us in our time of anxiety and distress, that we may trust in you. Calm our hearts and minds we pray so they don’t run on and on.  May the light of hope shine for all to see.  Amen.

Hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel                                       VU 1

  1.  O come, O come, Emmanuel,
    and ransom captive Israel
    that mourns in lowly exile here
    until the Son of God appear.          Refrain:      Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                                           shall come to thee, O Israel. 
  2. O come, O Wisdom from on high,
    who orders all things mightily;
    to use the path of knowledge show,
    and teach us in her ways to go.           Refrain

  1. O come, O come, great God of might,
    who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
    in ancient times once gave the law
    in cloud, and majesty, and awe.           Refrain
  2.   O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
    from every foe deliver them
    that trust your mighty power to save,
    and give them victory o’er the grave.  Refrain
  1. O come, O Key of David, come,
    and open wide our heavenly home;
    make safe the way that leads on high,
    and close the path to misery.                         Refrain
  2. O Come, O Dayspring, from on high,
    and cheer us by your drawing nigh;
    disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
    and death’s dark shadows put to flight.         Refrain
  1. O come, Desire of nations, bind
    all peoples in one heart and mind;
    O bid our sad divisions cease,
    and be for us the Prince of Peace.                 Refrain

 

Scripture Reader:       Barbara Moogk
Jeremiah 33:14-16   Luke 21:25-36

Special Music

Homily – “The Courage of Hope”

Musical Response

The offering

We give thanks for everyone who continues to support TSA throughout the year. Your gifts of support and encouragement mean a lot to us. Please contact the church office or visit our website for more information on how to make a donation. For all the gifts you share, for all the people you bless by your serving and giving as a disciple of Jesus, we give thanks.

 

Hymn Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming                                     VU 8

  1. Lo, how a rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
    of Jesse’s lineage coming, as seers of old have sung.
    It came a blossom bright,
    amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night.
  2. Isaiah ‘twas fortold it, the Rose I have in mind,
    with Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
    To show God’s love aright
    She bore for us a Saviour when half spent was the night.

Pastoral Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Hark the Glad Sound                                           VU 29

  1. Hark, the glad sound! The Saviour comes,
    the Saviour promised long:
    let every heart prepare a throne,
    and every voice a song.
  1. He comes, the prisoners to release
    in Satan’s bondage held;
    the gates of brass before him burst,
    the iron fetters yield.
  1. He comes, the broken heart to bind,
    the bleeding soul to cure,
    and with the treasures of his grace
    to bless the humble poor.
  1. Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
    your welcome shall proclaim;
    and heaven’s eternal arches ring
    with your beloved name.

Benediction

 

In dark days such as these, let the light of hope shine.
May hope live in your heart.
May God’s gift of hope give you courage and wisdom for the living of these days.
May it be the gift you share with everyone you meet.
And now may God bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you hope.  Amen.

Postlude

The Courage of Hope. Text: Luke 21:25-36  First Sunday of Advent, November 28 2021
by Rev. James Murray at Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church, Renfrew.

In the reading from Gospel of Luke that we shared this morning, there is one line which really jumps out at me. It’s when Jesus says  “People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens are being shaken.”  Given all the natural disasters we have been witnessing over the past few months, these words seem to be taking on new relevance for us.  Every where we turn there is news of massive floods and wild fires and droughts that are having devastating effect on communities across Canada. Every day there are stories of the impact climate change and the pandemic is having on people around the world. In many countries democracy seems to be in peril as human rights are being trampled upon with impunity. Some thinkers are even suggesting that our civilization may be headed for a collapse. There are days it certainly feels like the power of the heavens really are being shaken about. And when our world seems to be falling apart at the seams, we wonder where God might be in the middle of this.

We have all had our moments when it feels like God is absent from our lives. We have all experienced a sense of loss when something precious comes to an end. We all know the pain that conflict can inflict on our body, mind and soul. We all know the overwhelming feelings of anxiety that can happen when we are faced with nonstop change which creates a crippling amount of uncertainty. We all know the despair that can set in when you are surrounded by insurmountable challenges. We know these challenges all to well because we live in difficult times. Given all these challenges, it is no wonder that we live in a world which is filled with anxiety and depression, isolation and despair. And when the world seems so dark, we wonder where we can turn to find a bit of light. We all want to be able to journey towards the light. For we all need a sense of hope in order to survive.

When faced with difficult circumstances, many people turn to the famous quote from the Bible that says ‘Heaven helps those who help themselves.’ It’s a familiar quote, but it doesn’t come from our scriptures. The original quote is from the Greek philosopher Sophocles who wrote it over 1500 years ago.   The American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin popularized the idea in one of his books. Benjamin Franklin said ‘Heaven helps those who help themselves.’ because he did not believe in providence. Franklin did not believe God was present or involved in human affairs in any way. Like Sophocles before him, Franklin believed it’s all up to us to face our problems, because no one else is going to help us.

Sadly, the problems we face in our world today are not ones we can solve as individuals. We can’t stop climate change just by recycling our plastic or turning down our thermostats a few degrees. Such big problems require changes in how we work as a society. It takes collective action to make a difference. The solar panels on our church roof are a symbol of the kind of communal effort that is required. It will take government action on all levels to change how industry and business works. This kind of change will take decades of effort that will hopefully make for a better world for our children’s children’s children. The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland shows the nations of the world are still not ready to work together to solve our problems. We still act as if we don’t have to change our ways because we don’t think we are going to be the ones to have to pay the price for all the pollution we have created. Sadly many of the populist right wing movements  in the world today are intent on dismantling our communal capacity for making such big changes. Our politicians usually can only think as far as the next election cycle, so they are not used to thinking in terms of long term social change. We need to go much deeper than politics alone to find a hopeful solution.

One voice of hope that I often turn to is Jim Wallis. Jim Wallis is the founder of the Sojourners community. Sojourners is a religious community of evangelical Christians who live in Washington D.C. where they work for social justice. It is the mission of Sojourners to work as people of faith for the common good of all people. Jim Wallis says “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change.”  Hope is not a passive wishing that things might be better. Hope believes that change is possible. And by the act of hoping, and by the act of living into that hope, hope changes what is possible.

Hope is not the same thing as optimism. Optimism is the belief that things will turn out well. The playwright and politician Vaclav Havel says “Hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Hope is trusting that God is at work in all of this. Because we do not face our challenges alone.

Jesus is a person who knows how to face difficulties with a sense of hope.  For this reason Jesus speaks to his disciples about how they should react when they see such troubles coming. He tells them to not be afraid. As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says, “Don’t panic”. Jesus is saying, ‘Yes there will be troubles in this world. There are going to be wars and revolts. There will be huge hurricanes and earthquakes. But don’t panic. Because God is going to be at work, even in such terrible moments as these. If you look, you will see God coming to you in the middle of that disaster.” God is working to set things right. In every moment God is at work, seeking to heal that which is hurting. God is seeking to mend that which is broken. God is seeking to restore that which is lost. God is seeking to liberate that which has been imprisoned. Hope is believing in spite of that evidence and by your act of hoping, that evidence will change.

When you can see how God is at work in your life, in every moment, you will be filled with such a strong hope that no circumstance will be able to defeat you. When you trust in Jesus to be with you, no storm will be able to knock you down. No matter what the outcome us, you will know the Holy Spirit has been guiding you every step of the way. When you are filled with hope, the world will never look the same to you. For you will see the world as God sees it. When we are filled with hope in God, we have the courage to act as a force for the good of all people. With a spirit of hope, we know good will between all people is possible.

This is why every year, in the darkest of months, we prepare for Christmas together by lighting a candle called hope. The Christmas lights you decorate your home with lets the light of hope shine for all to see. As the Bible says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  May God’s gift of this light of hope shine in your heart this Christmas.  Amen.

 

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