Worship Service for November 28, 2021

November 28, 2014 – First Sunday in Advent

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Call to worship and Advent Candle lightning

One: Advent is a time for waiting.

All: We wait for God, who appears like a tender branch growing from a stump.

One: Advent is a time for hoping.

All: We wait for God, who comes with justice and righteousness.

One: Advent is a time to worship.

All: We wait for God, praising the One who comes to fulfil promises.

One: Today we light the candle of hope. We hope that Jesus’ light will come again and again into our world.

(The candle has been lit)

All: Jesus, help your light to shine in us as hope.

Opening hymn

Hymn (Book of Praise) 114 – “Hope is a star

Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)

God of light and love,
our praises and prayers overflow with hope as the season of Advent opens.
You come to your people to dwell with us.
You come with power—not to dominate, but to transform.
Your coming is our hope,
and so, we offer you our worship in gratitude and anticipation.
Come into our lives again, O God.

Surprising God,
Forgive us when we abandon hope so quickly,
And when we expect the same old thing in the same old way.
Forgive us when we underestimate your power to do a new thing.
Awaken us to your holy, hopeful presence.
Awaken us so we may watch and wait for you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen

Declaration of Pardon

God offers you forgiveness today, in the hope you will receive it gladly. Do not be afraid but rejoice in the God who comes to us.

Thanks be to God.

The Peace

The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)

Amnesty International “Write for Rights” Campaign 2021

by Bonnie Horton

For those of you unfamiliar with the Amnesty International Write For Rights campaign, it is an annual event in which we petition governments around the world on behalf of victims of human rights abuses in those countries. I had hoped that this year we could return to our usual practice of meeting together after worship to participate in the annual campaign, but unfortunately circumstances prevent that again this year. You will remember that last year I prepared packages for you to take home so that you could sign the letters; the response despite the difficulties was amazing and so I am calling on you again this year to consider the four cases in front of us. I will have prepared packages for you next week which you can take home and return, but I will go into more detail about that next week.

This week I would like to introduce you to the cases we are supporting this year. It is always such a difficult decision  choosing from the cases Amnesty presents the ones that we should focus on — they are all so urgent and so heart-wrenching. Our first case is Mikita in Belarus who arranged to meet a friend in a city square only to find a peaceful demonstration taking place there, peaceful that is until the police moved in. The next day Mikita was arrested, beaten with an electric shock truncheon, charged with throwing a Molotov cocktail even though there is video evidence he was not at all involved in the demonstration — well, you can guess the rest. He is now in prison. Oh, and did I mention that Mikita was 16 at the time?

Another teenager we need to be concerned about is Ciham Ali of Eritrea, kidnapped 9 years ago when she was 15 in retaliation for her father speaking out against the government, and never heard of or from again. No one knows where she is and anyone who knows anything about Eritrea shudders at the thought of her in an Eritrean prison where conditions are among the worst in the world. You will be addressing your letter to no less a person than the US Secretary of State, for Ciham is an American citizen, born in Los Angeles, and yet, no American government official has done anything in the ensuing 9 years to find her or secure her release.

Then there is Mohamed Baker who himself worked for the Adalah Centre for Rights and Freedoms in Egypt, a human rights lawyer arrested simply for that reason. There was no trial, but he continues to languish is prison where he is subjected to one cruelty after another.

The case of Zhang Zhan I think will really pique your interest. She is the young citizen journalist in China who first blew the whistle on the Chinese government’s attempt to cover up the newly discovered virus in that country which became of course the Covid 19 pandemic. Thrown into prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” miles from her home and denied visits from her family, she still has the courage to say “Truth has always been the most expensive thing in the world. It is our life.”

Despite the logistical difficulties, I am determined that we do our part to bring justice to these victims. I hope that next week you will take home a package and do your part to stand up for human rights.

Scripture reading

Matthew 6: 25–34 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

Children’s choir presents two songs

Fun with the young at heart (Children’s story)

Recorded anthem

The Sacrament of Communion

Reflections on communion

Dear friends, today we celebrate communion as a faith community. At this moment, we would like to pause and spend a few minutes reflecting on the meaning of communion, what we try to remember, and what we try to celebrate.

Communion is about having a spiritual meal that has been prepared by God with God. We are eating with Christ, and Christ is feeding us. Communion is where we are being nurtured and fed by the divine love of Christ. Communion reminds us that not only God wants us to serve God and to love others as ourselves, but God desires to feed us, God wants to bless us, and God wants to feed our soul. God desires to satisfy our true hunger and thirst… God desires to provide us with courage, compassion, strength, and faith we need… not just by explaining them to us, but by giving them to us.  Sometimes we are so quick to argue, question, reason, and challenge, but not always good at receiving a gift by saying. “Thank you.” Sometimes we do spend so much time analyzing and studying what has been prepared on the table for us, and we end up spending far less time enjoying and receiving what is prepared before us.

Communion does not start when we say a prayer over bread and wine, Before the bread was baked in the oven, the dough is formed by mixing flour, water, yeast, salt, and other ingredients.  Before a farmer goes out to the field and spreads the seed of wheat falls to the ground…. Even before we were created, God planned to love us, feed and nurture us…. God intended to be a part of our human life and become a friend to us before creation. Communion did not start when Jesus was crucified and resurrected. It did not start when Jesus broke the bread and wine on the day before he was crucified. It did not begin when the people of Israel were freed from their slavery in Egypt. Communion started on the day God created the universe…. On the moment, God said, “Let there be light.”, communion had started….

We simply join this communion God has started since the day one…. Each communion we celebrate is to remind ourselves that our life is a process and a journey of becoming one and being communed with God.

Please, join us in joining God.

Musical Reflection

Invitation of the table

Prayer

Fraction and Distribution

“The body of Christ broken for us”

“The Blood of Christ shed for us.”

Hymns

538 You satisfy the hungry heart / 546 Here is bread: here is wine

122 Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel / 152 Still, still, still

Choir Recorded anthem

Prayer

O Spirit of Hope, When the world is confusing and bleak, you pierce the despair with your Word, and renew our vision of God’s possibilities for our lives. Thank you for lessons learned, for changes of heart, for new discoveries made and hope restored, even as the pandemic stretches on. As the world around us prepares for the long, cold sleep of winter, we pray for those who feel the burden of loneliness and isolation. We remember those without homes to shelter in, and those forced to leave their homes through conflict, natural disaster or political upheaval.

O God of Peace, There is strife and disagreement all around us these days, sometimes in our own lives and relationships, and in many nations and neighborhoods in the news. We pray for places where violence and cruelty appear to win the day, thinking especially of Afghanistan and Haiti, and situations closer to home that we carry on our hearts.

O Creator of Joy, We give you thanks for moments of joy and celebration in our lives, for pleasure given and received, for quiet times of reflection and conversation, and for the many ways that allow us to keep in contact with those we love. As the days grow colder, we remember those who feel bitter while others rejoice, those who grieve the loss of loved ones, and those who face a bleak winter for any reason. O Love divine made flesh in Christ, You call us into communion with you and community with one another. We pray for your church and our congregation, that love will guide all your people as we plan for our life and mission. We remember before you our families, whether we are close or estranged; for our friends, whether nearby or far away.

Love divine, bless each one with your love and help us express our gratitude and concern for each other in word and action. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Offertory

We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.

Prayer of dedication

Bless and transform the gifts we give today, that the world may be startled and the suffering may be healed in our giving, as in our witness to you.

Closing hymn

Hymn (Book of Praise) 110 – “Come, thou long-expected Jesus

Benediction

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN

Commissioning

Choral Amen

graphic of a movie film reel
Click to listen to the Choral Amen at YouTube.
  • “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
  • Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
  • Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.

Copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church

Last updated on 2021-12-03 21:10 – Added Amnesty International “Write for Rights” 2021 Campaign text.