MCCC Advent 2020: A Weary World Rejoices
Advent Three - Rejoicing in God’s Comfort (Isaiah 61:1-4)
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Mantua Center Christian Church
MCCC Worship at the Windows
Order of Worship
1 - GATHERING SONG “People Look East”
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS - Chad
Welcome to the Mantua Center Christian Church this third Sunday in Advent. We come together in this season of waiting and expectation to proclaim our hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We want to welcome any visitors today and everyone that is on our YouTube Live video feed. We are reaching out in all sorts of different ways and grateful for your presence with us.
- Bulletin and Music Lyrics
- NEXT WEEK - Online Only
- Christmas Eve - Worship at the Windows at 7:00pm
- Communion is “bring your own.” Please participate as you feel led.
- If you have an offering to give you can stop at the basket on your way out!
God of Joy….
In this Advent season we await the coming of Christ. Light of the World, come…
Come to the waiting and worried
Come to the oppressed and exploited,
Come to the despised and rejected,
Come to all in whom the divine image is distorted.
We wait in joyful expectation.
Come not as one who garners fear, but in love and compassion,
Come to the outcast – like the shepherds in the fields,
Come to foreigners – like Magi watching from afar,
Come to rich and poor, young and old, to all people
Come to bring salvation on the earth,
Come to rule with justice and in peace.
Come Light of the World, illuminate our path.
We wait with all the peoples of the earth,
Light of the World, we welcome your coming.
2 - SONG OF PRAISE “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING written by Rev. Dr. Terri Hord Owens
Week 3 – Joy Luke 1:46b-55
CHAD: Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent, and we light the candle of joy. We are reminded that joy can be present in the midst of uncertainty, for joy comes from the fullness of God’s presence among us, given through the one we call Jesus the Christ. Mary, his mother, responded from a heart full of joy when she learned she would be the mother of Jesus:
SARAH:‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
CHAD: Like Mary, we rejoice in what God has done, how God has provided, the justice that comes when love and mercy work with justice, the satisfaction in our souls that brings a smile to our face despite circumstances. Joy, joy, God’s great joy—let us light this candle. May its light cast out darkness, reminding us that the joy of the Lord is our strength… (LIGHT THE CANDLE)
Prayer: We open our hearts to receive from you, O Holy One, the peace that passes all understanding and the fullness of joy that cannot be taken away from us. May your Spirit and the love you gave through Jesus continue to fill our cups to overflowing with joy, now and always, In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
3 - RESPONSE: When God is a Child – verse 3
4 - CHILDREN’S MOMENT - Ally Hurd
PASTORAL PRAYER Sarah Smith
As we come together for a time of communal prayer, I invite everyone to participate with me by using the intercession “God, hear our prayers,” as we pray for our concerns, and then “God, we give you thanks!” When we pray for our joys. Let’s take a collective deep breath in… and out… as we go to our Creator in prayer.
God of creation and ruin,
There is no part of life untouched by the light of your Spirit. May we not be too hurried to notice or too aloof to care when you surprise us with sacred moments in an otherwise mundane life. May we not hesitate to greet the experiences of joy you place in front of us with open arms, even and especially when life is hard. In the dullest circumstances, in the hardest situations, in the strangest of places, open our hearts to delight in the mysteries of your ways.
When so much of our world is groaning with injustice and destruction, we are invited to turn to You and one another. You do not ask us to carry the struggles of the world alone. And so, in a spirit of collective embrace, may we share together in prayer for all that troubles our hearts.
For all of the bodies in suffering - deprived of resources, withheld from care, or made into targets of violence.
God, hear our prayers.
For all whose spirits are in despair - those who are facing loss or grief, those who are isolated, or those struggling to accept their own worth.
God, hear our prayers.
For all of the ways power is wielded over communities and individuals - for those living under oppressive forces, for the temptation towards complicity with injustice, and for the ways the church sometimes uses you, o God, as a weapon rather than a tool for healing and liberation.
God, hear our prayers.
Just as we are not meant to shoulder the world’s pain alone, we are equally invited to delight with one another in the joy that sustains us.
For the beauty that grows around us.
God, we give you thanks!
For the gifts of shared meals and community and relationships that transform and sustain us.
God, we give you thanks!
For art and music and stories and truths that foster love and connection.
God, we give you thanks!
For every source of courage in the face of all that makes us afraid.
God, we give you thanks!
For your presence within and around us, in our highs and lows, our joy and our despair, God, we give you thanks. Hear our prayers and deepen our willingness to show up with and for one another, sharing in each other’s burdens and working for one another’s protection and care. Amen.
LITANY of PREPARATION (based on Psalm 130)
Leader: Wait for the Lord, like those who know joy in God’s mercy.
ALL: God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Leader: Watch for God, like those who eagerly await the morning.
ALL: We watch for God, whose power redeems us.
SCRIPTURE READING Isaiah 61:1-4
SERMON Sarah Smith
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
I’m sure that I am not the only person, especially since most of us spend a significant amount of time in North Eastern Ohio, that thinks that winter is a really tough season. It’s dark for such a long time and mobility through rain and ice and snow is hard in a good year, much less when we are all stuck at home except for essentials.
This year in particular has been a doozy for so many people. There has been a lot of fear, anger, sadness, longing, and grief even in what is normally our brightest seasons. We have lost loved ones, been unable to see or visit with others, missed trips, lost jobs, dealt with sickness, OH, and everything a normal year would bring.
So many people are exhausted and grieving and exhausted of grieving. Our plans for the year lay devastated or drastically changed. We have had to do so much shuffling, that reflecting on the year can feel like we are looking back through the ruins of a once great city. It would be easy to see this darkness and decide to pitch a tent and live in it.
Advent gives us a chance to reconnect to our Christian roots and who we are called to be as we anticipate the coming of Jesus. Even though we are Easter people, it is hard to deny that advent can serve as a northern star for us to prepare for the contemplation of Winter. It can be easy to look at the themes of Advent and scoff at how they could possibly fit into 2020. Hope? Peace? And today, Joy? Do we even know what those look like right now?
Our scripture this morning gives us a tall order for what it means to be the anointed, or to be the people of God. We should bring hope to the oppressed, liberty to the captive and imprisoned, comforting all who mourn by giving them garlands instead of ashes and the oil of gladness. We are to plant the Lord by restoring what was lost. But how on Earth are we supposed to do this when we are all feeling downtrodden and captive and mourning? How do we create garlands and spread the oil of gladness without pouring from an empty cup so to speak?
Church, I hate to tell you, but I don’t have the universal answer to these questions. God never promised us a life without darkness and ruins, and 2020 has felt like a poignant example of this. However, often I find that God speaks to us in mysterious ways, and as I was thinking about these questions and our scripture this morning, I stumbled across an old children’s book of mine called, “The Pig of Happiness.” You’ll have to look it up if you would like to see the drawings, but I would love to read it to you this morning.
(Read’s Pig of Happiness from Book)
When we think of joy or bringing hope and peace and liberty and comfort, we often think of grand, sweeping gestures, but these big actions are not the only places that these concepts live. There is joy in baking a loaf of fresh bread, just for yourself. There is hope in community actions that come directly from our dedication to caring from the folks around us, such as Kids Weekend Meals, that start with a spark from one person and build into networks of care and connection. There is peace in making the best possible decision for your safety and the safety of those around us, even when it is hard and we want to be doing other things and being with other people.
We may have had to pitch tents in the darkness of 2020 church, but the Spirit calls us to do more than sit in the dark. Everytime we seek and spread joy, despite how hard it is to find and kindle, the Spirit moves like a fire, lighting up all those touched by that joy, no matter how small.
A text to check in can be the spark that another person needs to feel reconnected to you, to the community, to God. Our letters and phone calls can influence the powerful to liberate the oppressed and captive. We hang the garland of gladness with dishes and recipes shared with the hurting, with the lonely, with the grieving. When we laugh, when we fortify our spirits, we slowly start to rebuild what was broken.
Ending the year with advent, we anticipate the arrival of Jesus, and even in 2020 we are reminded of some important things. In anticipation of Mary’s pregnancy, we are reminded that hope is a beautiful and vulnerable thing. In the greed and jealousy of Herod, we are reminded that to seek peace, we must first seek justice. In the fear of giving birth alone and in a lowly stable outside of an inn, we are reminded that joy often comes to us in unexpected places.
As we settle in for the bustle of the holidays, I pray that we may all find the spark of the divine in our lives even on the darkest of our days. As we look forward into the darkness, I pray that our small joys that we do find can be a light for others as well. May the light of the Spirit fill you with hope and peace and joy this week. Amen.
HOLY COMMUNION - Chad
5 - Communion Song “I Come with Joy”
1. I come with joy, a child of God, forgiven, loved and free,
the life of Jesus to recall,
in love laid down for me, in love laid down for me.
2. As Christ breaks bread and bids us share,each proud division ends.
The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends,
and strangers now are friends.
3. The Spirit of the risen Christ, unseen, but ever near,
is in such friendship better known,
alive among us here, alive among us here.
4. Together met, together bound by all that God has done,
we'll go with joy, to give the world,
the love that makes us one, the love that makes us one.
This is the joyful feast of the people of God! We will come from east and west, and from north and south and sit at the Table re-presenting the Kin-dom of God. In the Gospel of Luke, Disciples walked disheartened after the crucifixion, when the Risen Christ joined them on the Emmaus road. He sat with them took bread bread, blessed, broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
Some of you know, the Delaney family got a new puppy last week. At 11 weeks old, she has brought a lot of messes to clean up and early mornings...but has brought a lot of joy and laughter too. Some little joys have been watching her bravely chase the ducks across the yard and watching her interact with our 5 year old dog Macy. It's also been a joy to watch the kids help take care of her, taking Annie duty during the day, taking her outside, or willingly help clean up the messes.
At this Table...we are reminded that even amongst our everyday messes, disappointments, and struggles...There is still Joy, there is still laughter, there is still goodness. Let us too, on our walk of life open our eyes and recognize the Risen Christ when he appears.
Communion Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Holy Source of all goodness and joy, we give you thanks and praise for revealing yourself in the sacred and the mundane. We marvel at the One who opened wide his arms for us in life and even in his death. In him, you created us anew to live as ones called to be people of kindness, justice, and love. In this season of Advent, we once again wait for him to be born in us and live through us. As we eat this bread and drink this cup, make yourself known to us and enliven us in the gift of your mercy. And hear us as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us saying…..
Words of Institution
As we gather around Christ’s Table we remember that on the night that Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread and broke it, gave thanks and said to his Disciples, “This is my body which is given for you, eat of it all of you in remembrance of me.” Let’s partake of the Bread of Life.
In like manner he took the cup and blessed it saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in me, as often as you drink of it do so in remembrance of me.” Let’s partake of the Cup of Salvation
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection until he comes again. Remember, all...ALL are welcome at the Lord’s Table.
(Share in the Bread and Cup together)
BENEDICTION - Sarah Smith
Thank you everyone who has chosen to share this beautiful, rainy morning with us here at MCCC. It brings us such joy to get to worship with you in any format each week.
Hear now these words from Connie Epp as todays benediction.
The Spirit of God is upon you and has anointed you.
You are the salt of the earth and you bring light to the world.
You are not too young or too old,
you are not too rich or too needy
to bring good news to the impoverished,
to give a hand to the broken-hearted,
and to live out freedom and pardon
through the gifts you have been given.
So remember to pack peace in your toolbox,
hope in your briefcase,
love in your lunch box,
and may integrity, honesty, and joy be your designer wear of choice.
Do not be frightened, for you are never alone.
The God in whose image you are made
will walk with you and guide you today, tomorrow, and every day.
May the peace, hope and joy of this season follow you wherever life takes you this week. Amen.
6 - CLOSING SONG “O Come All Ye Faithful”
1. O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him, born the King of angels:
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
2. Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest; [Refrain]
3. Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
we would embrace thee, with love and awe;
who would not love thee, loving us so dearly? [Refrain]
4 Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born for our salvation,
Jesus, to thee be all glory given; Word of the Father,
now in flesh appearing: [Refrain]
7 - DEPARTURE SONG - Peace within my Soul Jan Green