Worship Materials: Advent

From the Festive Worship Collection

THEME     Dreamtime Reality – Season of Hope

 

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION

To travel hopefully is the mark of the pilgrim.  To believe that one has arrived is the mark of the insecure.

Heaven is not so much the joy of arrival but the wonder of the  pilgrimage.

To live with hope is to see life from the perspective of God.

Do not waste time looking for cloudless days – an excess of them can produce a desert.

To have hope is to look at the frost on the windows and see Spring flowers.

If we carry the light in our hearts there will be light in the tunnel as well as at its end!

Dreams are fragile things; therefore walk lightly amongst people’s hopes.

Treasure your own visions, they hold the key to vibrant futures.

Dreams can be exhilarating – their implementation can be costly.

Be careful which dreams you choose to implement. Dreams can either liberate or enslave us

Between hope and appropriate action lies the chasm of analysis.

Observation and reflection are the parents of wisdom;  Analysis and action the mid-wives that deliver the future’s dreams.

The greatest hope lies buried in the present moment – the “one day” that is now.

Living hope analyses the past, dreams the future and acts in the present moment.

Advent is a season for prophets, those who discern in the present the signs of the future.

Dreams that transform grow from the soil of the present to the heaven of the future.

 

PRAYERS

O God, the source of all our dreaming, help us to dream of a better world, a world of justice and peace, in which the whole of creation is treated with reverence and respect.

God who empowers and frees us from our reluctance to change, enable us to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, and so become compassionate people who work to create a better world.

O God, may our wild storms come out of our still waters so that our anger may be focused on supporting just causes, rather than merely being an expression of our inner turmoil. Grant that we may not be so enchanted by still waters that we fail to do anything about the injustices and oppressions of this world.

 

HYMNS

My spirit shall rejoice. (BL)

Amid the many thoughts. (BL)

To our winters. (BL)

Come, let us think like mountain rocks (BL)

 

Christ the tent.

All will be well.

You do not need to come O God.

What does our God require of us?

Throughout this winter season.

These hymns may be found at:

 http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

 

Carol my heart, carol myself.(STS1)

In mother’s pain, in babies’ birth.(SLS2)

These hymns may be found in:  Singing the Sacred Vol 1 2011, Vol 2 2014 World Library Publications

 

REFRAINS

Not every day shall earth’s bright rainbow colors. (BL)

Dream, dream. (SYSJ)

I don’t want your pity. (SYSJ)

 

POEM

O GOD, WITHIN THE CONFINES

O God, within the confines of my small living

Give me dreams and visioning,

Insight and analysis,

Of the cosmic universe

And its eternity of connectedness.

There let me travel in imagination

That awareness may be enriched,

Images be reborn

And the desert become a space

Of treasured emptiness.

 

 

ADVENT GOSPEL REFLECTIONS AND COLLECTS

Advent Sunday Luke 21:25-36

 

Gospel Reflection

The fig tree is like the young child; when you see its growth you will know summer is near. When you prevent its growth you destroy the possibility of a summer flowering. The young child is like the Kingdom; be alert for the signs of God within each child and beware of quenching the spirit.

 

Collect

All loving and all seeing God, in your great mercy enable us to both see and nurture in children the signs of your Kingdom, that they may be for us a foretaste of the age to come and a means of our liberation.

 

Advent Two Luke 3:1-6

 

Gospel Reflection

Repentance is seeing things in a new way, from the perspective of the child. “Unless you become as a child you will not enter the Kingdom”.(Matthew 18:3) Unless we see life from the perspective of God’s oneness, God’s flowing, God’s mercy, peace and justice, we will not have the strength to grapple with and overcome injustice.

 

Collect

God of all justice and peace help us to change our ways of thinking, that seeing life with the eyes of a child we may discern that behind the ugliness and injustice of life there lies an eternal beauty, the mystery which is you, O God.

 

Advent Three Luke 3: 7-18

 

Gospel Reflection

Our denial of justice for all the peoples of the Earth will be like an axe that will cut at the roots of our spirituality and of our whole civilization.

 

Collect

O God to whom all injustice is repugnant, help us to identify and transform the many ways in which we and our society deliberately or unwittingly oppress others. This we pray through Jesus Christ the true liberator.

 


CONTEMPORARY ADVENT SERVICE

OF CAROLS AND LESSONS

INTRODUCTION

Let us be still, leaving to one side our anxiety, our rush, our tension, letting go of our cravings for wealth and power and come to the place of at-one-ness with everything that is. From this place let us celebrate the Christmas Story and go on pilgrimage to meet the mystery that is present in all flesh and in all blood.
Now let us listen to the story that is more than a story, a story that is you and me and all the people who ever have been.
FIRST LESSON           Isaiah 40 1-11

Reflection

Let us reflect on the image of God as shepherd and as mother.

The presence of the divine is most clearly seen in those who nurture others in a gentle, non-interfering manner.

 

SECOND LESSON       Luke 2: 8-12

Reflection

The night was silent and still.

It is in silence and in stillness that we encounter the divine.

 

THIRD LESSON          Luke 1: 46-55

Reflection

Mary rejoices because God takes sides with the poor and oppressed.

What word is there here for our competitive society?

 

FOURTH LESSON       Luke 2: 1-7

Reflection

The divine is found in the blood and labor of birth and in the shelters of the homeless for it is when we are most vulnerable that we are most open to encounter the sacred.

 

FIFTH LESSON           Matthew 2: 1-11

Reflection

The wise-men brought their gifts and in so doing remind us that it is in the letting go and not in the grasping that we find life.

 

SIXTH LESSON          John 1: 1-5 & 14

Reflection

The divine was made flesh. A famous devotional writer, Mechtild of Magdeburg said: “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.”

May this special time of Christmas help us to view all life as sacred, and to walk the Way which lies deep within each of us, a way that is beautiful, joyful and familiar – the way of justice, peace and reverence for all that is.

 

BENEDICTION

May the wonder of the shepherds, the generosity of the wise men and the compassion of Mary be in us and flow from us this Advent (Christmas) and always. AMEN.

 

 

FOCUS FOR ACTION

 

SEQUENCE OF EFFECTIVE AID FOR LIBERATION

Believe that liberation is possible.

Expose yourself to the pain and suffering of the oppressed.

Allow yourself to feel anger at their situation, remembering that anger is the greatest motivation for action.

Discern

  • what are the global causes for the unjust distribution of wealth and power ?
  • What are the mechanisms which those who hold power use to maintain unjust situations?

Form alliances in the recipient country with appropriate partner groups who are committed to the cause of eliminating injustice and poverty.

Listen to the partner groups analysis of the specific forms of institutionalized injustice which occur in their country.

Commit yourself to supporting their programs.

Reflect on how best these programs could be presented to potential supporters.

Focus on what is being achieved and on what can be implemented, rather than only on the injustices.  Guilt or depression about the current world situation is not an effective way to gain people’s support.

Celebrate the signs of liberation. Sing songs of justice in the face of injustice. Rejoice that in the matter of justice, God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed (see The Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55).

Apply your analysis of what is happening globally to your own country.  Identify its contribution to global injustice and work for change. Be prepared to change your own life-style and attitudes in the light of these insights. QUESTION. Can I utilize this as an evaluation of aid programs? Which agencies should I support bearing in mind that while child sponsorship is one of the best ways to solicit money from people it is also one of the least effective mechanisms for delivery of effective aid?

 

 

Text and image © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

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