Service of Hope & Healing

December 9, 2020

Download the Worship Bulletin Here

 

We Gather     

 

(Enter in Silent Contemplation)

 

These are days of heavy clouds stifling sunlight, the world burdened by gray gloom.

Open our eyes, Lord, to the coming of your light

that lifts darkness from our lives.

Chill seeps deep into bones. Hearts grow rigid with frost-hardness. Souls wrap up against the lonely cold.

Open our souls, Lord, to the warmth of your coming. Melt the hardness that keeps us from you and from each other.

With branches bared, trees sway against steel skies. Stems crumple under the weight of frost. Old leaves decay under slippery feet. Nature depleted by winter’s descent lies dormant, resting, awaiting rebirth.

Open our world, Lord, frozen by injustice. Clothe it with your renewing love.

Gathering in this place where heaven and earth whisper greeting; in this house where the Monarch of Heaven comes to meet us; in the soft darkness of this place, we wait like exiles of old for redemption, kindling lights of hope with prayers for Christ’s coming.[1]

 

ADVENT HYMN  No. 88      

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel                             

(Because the singing of hymns is discouraged during this period of pandemic, you are invited to meditate on verses 1, 6, 5 & 7 below.)

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer

our spirits by thine advent here;

disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

O come, thou Key of David, come,

and open wide our heavenly home;

make safe the way that leads on high,

and close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

O come, Desire of nations, bind

all peoples in one heart and mind;

bid envy, strife, and discord cease;

fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

CALL TO PRAYERS

The proof that we are not forgotten in the pain of exile is this: into the darkness of a winter’s night, God comes. To a people pushed around by an oppressive empire, God comes. To a sojourning family on the run, God comes. As Job said, “God reveals mysteries from the darkness, and brings the deep darkness into light.”[2] Trusting in the God-who-comes-to-us, let our prayers rise like incense in the descending darkness, as we cry out to God for light and lightness of soul. Let us confess the longings of our lives by lighting candles with prayers for the world’s healing.

 

As candles are being lit all around the room, all meditate on our waiting.

 

HYMN  No. 92           

While We Are Waiting, Come                         

(verse 1 only; repeat)

 

While we are waiting, come;

while we are waiting, come.

 

Refrain:

Jesus, our Lord, Emmanuel,

while we are waiting, come.

 

Silence

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION & INTERCESSION

O Lord, we long for your coming into our world.

We long for your justice. We long for your peace.

Creator, Redeemer, your people turn to you, for you alone have the power to heal. Mend the torn fabric of your church.

(Lift prayers for the church aloud or in silence.)

 

Silence

 

Response  No. 84

Creator of the Stars of Night      

                       

Creator of the stars of night,

Your people’s everlasting light,

O Christ, Redeemer of us all,

We pray You, hear us when we call.

 

Peacemaker, Painbearer, restore the shalom of the earth burdened by the pollution of our sin, and guide all nations in the way of your wholeness.

(Lift prayers for creation’s healing and for places of political oppression and unrest around the world.)

 

Creator of the stars of night,

Your people’s everlasting light,

O Christ, Redeemer of us all,

We pray You, hear us when we call.

 

Weaver of Compassion, restore those whose bodies, spirits, minds, and lives are broken by sickness, circumstance, or grief . .

(Lift prayers for care and healing aloud or in silence before God.)

 

Creator of the stars of night,

Your people’s everlasting light,

O Christ, Redeemer of us all,

We pray You, hear us when we call.

 

Healing God, we reach out to touch the hem of your grace, daring to pray for ourselves, for our own lives are broken, too.

(In the silence, lift what’s broken in your life to God in a prayer for healing, restoration, and resurrection.)

 

Creator of the stars of night,

Your people’s everlasting light,

O Christ, Redeemer of us all,

We pray You, hear us when we call. Amen.

 

Hear us, Redeemer Creator, for we ask all these things through and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we might know life in all its wholeness.

Amen.

 

SCRIPTURE

Isaiah 60:2-5

Darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and God’s glory will be seen upon you.

Peoples shall come to your light,

and rulers to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes round about and see;

they all gather together, they come to you;

you who were in exile, abandoned

will be welcomed home.

You will see, and be radiant,

your heart will thrill and rejoice!

 

ASSURANCE OF GOD WITH US

Hear the good news of the psalmist’s proclamation:  If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to God, and the night is as bright as the day. The God who promised never to leave us or forsake us HAS come to us in Jesus Christ, who binds up the brokenhearted, heals all our infirmities, and relieves our burden of sin. So arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Thanks be to God!

 

SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST

Peace be with you!

And also with you.

 

We Reflect

 

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION                                              Your love, O Lord, is a fire. Send your Holy Spirit to blow over the embers of your love set in the firebox of human words, song, and holy scripture so that your love may burn brightly in our hearts, fill our lives with the warmth of your life, and give light to all.

In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

 

HYMN  No. 347

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence              

(verse 1 only)

 

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,

and with fear and trembling stand;

ponder nothing earthly minded,

for with blessing in his hand

Christ our God to earth descendeth,

our full homage to demand.

 

SCRIPTURE LESSON

Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

 

HYMN No. 347

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence                   

(verse 3 only)

 

Rank on rank the host of heaven

spreads its vanguard on the way,

as the Light of light descendeth

from the realms of endless day,

that the powers of hell may vanish

as the shadows clear away.

 

SCRIPTURE LESSON                                                              Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

 

When evildoers assail me

to devour my flesh—

my adversaries and foes—

they shall stumble and fall.

 

Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war rise up against me,

yet I will be confident.

 

One thing I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

to live in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord,

and to inquire in his temple.

 

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will set me high on a rock.

 

Now my head is lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

 

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,

be gracious to me and answer me!

‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’

Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Do not hide your face from me.

 

Do not turn your servant away in anger,

you who have been my help.

Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,

O God of my salvation!

If my father and mother forsake me,

the Lord will take me up.

 

Teach me your way, O Lord,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they are breathing out violence.

 

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord!

 

HYMN No. 347

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence                    

(verse 4 only)

 

At his feet the six-winged seraph,

cherubim, with sleepless eye,

veil their faces to the presence,

as with ceaseless voice they cry,

“Alleluia, alleluia,

alleluia, Lord most high!”

 

We Respond

 

BREATH PRAYER

Breathe in:    You in Me.

Breathe out:  I in You.

 

A LITANY FOR HEALING

Together we lift our prayers to you, O God of love and healing. God the Father, you breathe life into your whole Creation.

Help us breathe deeply of your peace and presence.

God the Son, you give us yourself to make our joy complete.

Help us give our fear, pain, and grief to you.

God the Holy Spirit, you move through our lives in unexpected ways. Holy Trinity, One God, accept our thanks and praise for all the blessings of this life, especially for those blessings that our present circumstances make difficult to see.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Shed the light of your healing love on all who are sick in body, mind, or spirit, that they may find new wholeness illumined by your grace.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Knit together in your love all whose relationships have frayed, that they may find reconciliation and new beginnings.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Bless all who work to improve the health of others that they may bring hope, care, wisdom, and skill to all they serve.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Hold in the palm of your hand all who are near death and all who care for them, that they may know the peace that passes all understanding.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Grant all who turn to you the courage to participate with you in restoring this broken world to wholeness, that everyone and everything may share in the hope of your kingdom.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

For these and for all other petitions that are too deep for words, we pray to you:

O Lord, hear our prayer.

You are the Lord whose promises never cease.

You are the Lord whose presence never fails.

Gracious God, you are close to us no matter how far we feel from you: draw us into the very heart of your grace and help us to live into the truth that nothing in all creation can separate us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

O Lord, hear us as we pray the prayer our Lord taught us, saying,

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

We Are Sent

 

The night is far spent, the day is at hand, Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom. 3:12)

You are the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)

God has called us to be light to the world, to fill our hearts with the light of Christ, That it may shine through all creation.

As you go out into the world, may God’s light go with you, may it shine through you, until every dark corner of the world is filled with the light of Christ, the light of incarnation and of God’s presence.

The light of life send upon us;

The joy of peace send upon us;

The gladness of goodwill send upon us.

May the glory of the Lord shine round about you,

the light of Christ’s presence glow within you,

and the fire of the Holy Spirit lead you forth in comfort and joy.

Amen.

 

POSTLUDE No. 118

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks                      

 

 

 

 

 

Some Liturgy from the Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

All songs not in the public domain are used by permission of CCLI #1124594.

 

[1] Adapted from a Celtic Prayer for Advent, accessed at http://www.wellsprings.org.uk/liturgies/cpadvent.htm

 

[2] Job 12:22.

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