Dec 10 2012

Covered in the Masters Dust: Liturgy for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (2 directions)

Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CoveredInTheMastersDust/~3/_H3uH5wXwZA/

[Just a quick note of apology: We had our big music Sunday on the 2nd Sunday of Advent and I didn't do any original liturgy because the music was the bulk of our service. Sorry about that!]

To make up for that mistake, I want to offer 2 possible liturgical routes for this coming Sunday with a little rationale.

On the 2nd Sunday of Advent we were offered two choices from Luke’s gospel. One was introducing John the Baptist and his role as the “voice crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.” The second choice was from Luke 1:68-79 — the Canticle of Zechariah. If you chose the Luke 3 John the Baptist text, I think you have an interesting opportunity this week in worship.

Is Advent a Season for Lament?

A growing trend is churches who observe a Service of the Longest Night around the date of the Winter Solstice. The Christmas season can be a tough time for lots of people. The previous year could have been wrought with loss and heartache. So the holiday season only reminds them of that loss when placed in context with the joy of the season. It’s vitally important that churches remember how important pastoral care is in Advent because it can be all too easy to get caught up in Christmas parties, traditions, and celebrations.

I think worship is a perfect place to bring the baggage of a tough year. If we Christians want to be faithful, then we must remember we are a people formed by good times and bad times. It’s a holy act to allow people time and space to grieve and mourn at the holidays.

So what if the 3rd Sunday of Advent were a Sunday to highlight these needs for pastoral care?

My friend, Taylor Watson Burton-Edwards makes a great case for why we should not create a new service to address pastoral care needs during the holidays when the season of Advent makes room for this in our regular Sunday morning worship time. Read his article here

Here’s my 2 cents worth on why the 3rd Sunday of Advent is a great time to address these needs:

The 4th Sunday of Advent is the day before Christmas Eve and if you’re like us, that will be the Sunday when people decide they can no longer stand Advent hymns and insist on a carol or two. Maybe that’s the Sunday where other Christmas traditions become front and center as well. Like it or not, December 23rd is close enough to Christmas that Advent will probably be a fading memory for many on that day.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent, Dec. 16, is far enough away from Christmas that Advent is still a reality. It’s also far enough into the season that early pomp and circumstance can give way to a much-needed change in tone.

So without further adieu, below is some liturgy and hymn selections for a Sunday worship service geared around themes of light/darkness as well as care/hope in the midst of despair:

Advent Wreath Liturgy

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming Messiah. When darkness surrounds us, we are reminded that God’s Messiah is the Light of the world. This Light is the light of hope, and darkness does not overcome it. We light the third Advent candle in preparation for the coming of God’s Messiah. We stand in solidarity with those for whom this is a difficult season. And we boldly proclaim that salvation for all is at hand.

               Light the candle

Come, Lord Jesus. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.

Opening Prayer

Holy God, we gather with expectation and hope as we approach the advent of your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, whose coming was foretold by prophets of old. Grant that through the singing of your praise, and hearing of your Word, we may be prepared for another encounter with the Living Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

[from "Prayers for the Seasons of God's People Year C" p. 16]

Litany For Those In Need This Season

O God, we come to you in prayer this day:

For all who have a song they cannot sing,

For all who have a burden they cannot bear,

For all who live in chains they cannot break,

For all who wander homeless and cannot return,

For those who are sick, and for those who supply care to them,

For those who wait for loved ones, and wait in vain,

For those who live in hunger, and for those who will not share their bread,

For those who are misunderstood, and for those who misunderstand,

For those whose words of love are locked within their hearts, and for those who yearn to hear those words.

Show us the Way, O God, for we your people walk in darkness. Amen.

Suggested Additional Items:

Canticle of Light and Darkness (UMH #205)

Hymn No. 218 “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”   **sing verse 3**

Hymn No. 211 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”   **sing verses 1, 5, 6, and 7**

Hymn No. 209 “Blessed Be the God of Israel”


If you do not want to go this route, I suggest the following pieces of liturgy keeping with the lectionary for the 3rd Sunday of Advent:

Advent Wreath Liturgy

The prophet reminds us that we are to bear fruit worthy of repentance.
The Messiah is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
and all flesh shall see his glory.

We light the third Advent candle in preparation
for the coming of God’s Messiah.
We prepare by repenting of our sins,
and living lives devoted to loving God and serving our neighbor.

                Light the candle.

Come, Lord Jesus. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.

Opening Prayer

             **same as above**

Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon

   **Use UMH #366 as a unison prayer of confession**

Hear the Good News: Our Advent hope is that God’s Messiah will come to baptize us with fire and the Holy Spirit. By the power of God, we will bear fruits of transformation. All of this proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Thanks be to God! Amen.

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