December 12, 2021 – Third Sunday in Advent
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Prelude: Bell choir
Call to worship and Advent Candle lightning
One: The Lord, your God, is in your midst.
All: Let us sing out loud and shout our praises!
One: God rejoices over you with gladness and renews you with love.
All: We will rejoice with all our hearts at what the Lord has done!
One: With joy, draw water from the well of salvation in this time of worship.
All: God is our salvation; we will trust and have no fear.
One: This Sunday we light the candle that symbolizes joy.
(The candle has been lit)
All: Let it grow in you; let it spread throughout your being. Relax in that joy right now.
Hymn (Book of Praise) 134 – “Lord You Were Rich”
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
Loving Jesus. Move in creativity among us, loving Parent, and break into our lives with your wisdom, Holy Spirit. This we pray in faith.
God, Forgive us this day. When we hold onto old guilt and grudges, or clinging to false assumptions because they seem comforting:
Forgive us this day If we would keep you at a distance, O God, rather than knowing your true will for us:
Hear our prayers, O God. Take our hands and restore us to your way, Jesus Christ.
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.
Declaration of Pardon
Even as we face our humanness, do not fear God, for we are loved and gathered toward grace beyond our imagining. We are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Bell Choir Presentation
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
The expression of our faith: The Liturgical Dance
by Miriam (designed by Susan)
The scripture we read today from Philippians chapter 4 invites us to rejoice in the Lord always. I mean always, not only when things are going well, but also when they are not, we are invited to rejoice. I know we are extremely good at being hard on ourselves and each other, “You are not good enough and do more!” We are great at pointing out every little mistake we make. Yet, God invites us to celebrate more, celebrate our life with God, celebrate our relationships with each other, be joyful, and share our gentleness and thanksgiving with others. The scripture reminds us that God is not asking us to prove how good we are but to remember how forgiving and loving God is despite our human imperfection. We Christians are usually good at being responsible and extremely good at being serious, but not always good at laughing, being happy, and joyful…
In fact, I had difficult time writing this sermon. I was stuck for few weeks on this topic of joy. I have no problem writing sermons about our responsibilities and who God is and who we are… but about being joyful. I was writing this sermon one Wednesday afternoon, then around 5:00 pm the children’s choir came and started singing. They were singing hymns and Christmas songs…, but they were not just singing, but also running everywhere.
The little children were running everywhere, they were smiling and laughing. Even going to washrooms, the little children turned it into a race and a play… Their hearts were filled with energy, curiosity, laughter and joy. That is when I realized that I was trying to write a sermon about joy. The children were actually celebrating joy. I was trying to describe, analyze and reason the gift of joy God we have. Instead of playing with it, instead of celebrating this gift of joy, I was trying to define it, explain it and analyze it…. All of us were little children once, I believe all of us knew how to recognize and celebrate this joy in our hearts, all of us knew how to smile and how to laugh as often as we could… I was once one of the children, but then something happened to me and us. I became a grown-up. We became grown-ups. It is no fun to be a grown-up. We changed how we looked at the world and our own life….
We have learned how hard it is to make a dollar, how unforgiving and critical our society is… we have learned how hurtful people can be to each other… we have learned how difficult it is to love and forgive each other….
No, we cannot stay little forever, but do we need to lose the gift of joy from our hearts? Being mature does not mean we need to be serious all the time and lose the gift of joy from our hearts. It is not because we are older, we no longer smile, it is because we are afraid. Because we are afraid to get disappointed and discouraged, we are afraid of how others will look at, we are afraid of getting hurt.
It is not because I am older today, that I no longer smile at least as much as when I was little. I know what I need to do to recover and reclaim this gift of joy that I have lost from my life. I need to reconcile with my past, I need to forgive the choices I made, the choices I did not. I need to forgive myself for what I knew and what I did not know…. I need to reconcile with my disappointment, regret, misunderstanding and imperfections… Christ offers us true forgiveness we are seeking. For too long we have approached our life as a punishment to endure, a burden to carry and a problem to fix, and forgot our life was given to us as a gift to celebrate with Christ, an opportunity to get to know more of God, and a mystery to be embraced.
Dear friends, Christ died on the cross, so that we could live our life. Christ gave us life, so that we could celebrate and experience God’s friendship. Christ empowers us and invites to forgive and reconcile with our own life…. May we allow the risen Christ to rediscover the gift of joy in our human hearts! May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, be with you and guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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
We bring our gifts as your friends, Jesus Christ, and as servants to each other. Receive them and bless them that we may truly use them in your name.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
O God, in the season of Advent as we watch, wait, anticipate, and prepare for the coming of your Son, we come before you with joy and thanksgiving. We give you thanks for the beauty of this season: for the generous spirit that permeates our neighbourhoods, for the goodness that is brought out in many people, for the joyful anticipation that fills our lives. We delight in the joy you bring into our lives and neighbourhood through this church community, and through the love of our family and friends.
But even as we thank you for all the joy that surrounds us, we recognize that darkness overshadows many of us. We pray for those who find it hard to be joyful. We pray for those who are sick in spirit, mind, or body, especially those who are in hospital. We pray for those who are worried about loved ones or about test results or about the future. We pray for those who are lonely or mourning, especially for those who mourn the loss of children or who have been touched by tragedy and violence. We pray for those who are unemployed, hungry, or homeless. We pray for the joy that Christmas can bring in homes where there has not been joy for a long, long time. We pray homes where there has been violence. We pray homes where there is anger or betrayal. We pray homes where there is despair.
Help us to use what you have given us to bring to joy to others, show us opportunities to offer friendship and comfort to those around us and open our eyes to moments where we can share you good news. We ask all this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our hope, our peace, and our joy.
Hymn (Book of Praise) 161 – “What Child Is This?”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN
- “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.
Bell Choir Presentation
Copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated on 2021-12-10 14:50 – First version