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Sermon and Liturgy (3) for The First Sunday of Advent - Year A
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 12:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
"Walking In The Light and Waiting For Jesus"


READING:  Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 12:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44 
SERMON :  "Walking In The Light and Waiting For Jesus"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-ad01su 956000
                    
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   Sources:  The Children's Story is based on a story of this Sunday
   as found in "Children's Sermon Service Plus "(Dec 95, Jan-Feb 96).
   The Prayer of Dedication, The Eucharistic Prayer, and the Benediction
   are based on ones by Moira Laidlaw as found in John Maynard's
   "Prayers and Litanies For Advent 1A" as sent to the PRCL List, Dec
   2001.  The three modes of Advent came from Rev. Beth W. Johnston
   (sueboo@nbnet.nb.ca) "Sermon For Advent 1a 2001" as sent to PRCL Dec
   2001.  The song "A Candle Is Burning" is sung to the tune of "Away
   in A Manger" and may be used with acknowledgement to Sandra Dean,
   Ottawa, Ontario, 1986.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* GREETING AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you
L  Let all people and all nations turn to the source of their salvation.  
P  Let them bow together in praise and seek the blessing of God.
L  Here we seek the light God offers us.
P  Here we prepare to walk in God's path.
L  Christ is the light of the world.
P  His way is the path for our feet.
L  The Day of the Lord approaches.
P  The dayspring from on high even now shines upon us.


* INTROIT                                                  - VU 1 (Verse 1)
   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.


ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING

VOICE  - Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Hope.

VOICE  - Our hope is in God, and in his son Jesus Christ.  He is the one
       appointed by God to be judge of all things.  He is the one through
       whom God has promised to save and redeem his people.

VOICE  - We light this candle today to remind us that he is our hope and
       the hope of the world.  We thank God for the promises he has made to
       us and for the light he has brought into the world.

Light the First Candle

VOICE  - Let us pray: O God of Hope, Emmanuel, God with Us -- we pray you
       to send your light into our hearts.  Help us to be ready for the day
       and the hour of Christ's  appearing.  Live in us and help us to live
       in you.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, touch us.  Transform us so
       that our worship, our celebration, our time of preparation, may be
       pleasing unto you - both now - and forevermore.  Amen.

SONG:  A Candle is burning, a flame warm and bright,         - VU 6 verse 1
       a candle of hope in December's dark night.
       While angels sing blessing from heaven's starry sky,
       our hearts we prepare now for Jesus in nigh.

       (RETURN TO YOUR SEATS AS SONG IS SUNG)


THIS WEEK AT ST. ANDREW'S
- Announcements  
- Birthdays and Anniversaries  
- Special Matters  
- Joys and Concerns for Prayer


CHILDREN'S STORY TIME
Theme     Preparing For Christ's Coming
Object    Alarm Clock 
Source    Based on a story of this Sunday as found in "Children's Sermon
          Service Plus "(Dec 95, Jan-Feb 96)

Good morning...  Who can tell me what is special about this day???  We have
begun the countdown for Christmas - anyone know how many days are left till
Christmas Day???  Are there any special things that you are doing to get
ready for Christmas???

There are a lot of things that people do to get ready for Christmas Day --
special things that will help us all celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ -
the first time he came into the world.  The Bible tells us that he is going
to come again to our world - and that there are some special things we
should do to get ready for his second coming -- can any of you think of
some of the special things we might do???

Those are all very good things to do.  But first of all - Paul tells us in
his letter to the Romans that we should wake up and remember that he is
coming.  When he comes he will judge all the countries and all the people
in the world - to see if they in fact love him and each other.  If we love
him and are really trying to love each other - he will reward us beyond
anything anyone ever dreamed about - and if we are asleep - if we don't
show our love for him and others - that we will miss out on all the good
things that he will do.  That is why I brought an alarm clock today -- to
remind me - and you - that if we fall asleep - if we forget that Jesus is
coming again - and forget to do the things he commanded us to do - the
things that make us shine - that we will miss all the joy he has made ready
for us.

I know that none of you will sleep through Christmas Day - that you will be
very busy from now until then getting ready for it.  I hope that all of you
will awake for his second coming as well.  Let us pray...


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER (SUNG)
   Dear Lord Jesus.   We look forward - to the day of your coming. - 
   Help us to be ready - so that we do not miss - all the good things
   you will do. - Amen

   SUNG (960)
   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 trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


A READING FROM ISAIAH 2:1-5 
   (NRSV) The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and
   Jerusalem.  In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall
   be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised
   above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.  Many peoples
   shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and
   that we may walk in his paths."  

   For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord
   from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and shall
   arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into
   plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not
   lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 

   O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

L  This is the word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 122 (Voices United 845)


A READING FROM ROMANS 13:11-14
   (NRSV) Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the
   moment for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us
   now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is
   near. 

   Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of
   light;  let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and
   drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in
   quarrelling and jealousy.  Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
   and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

L  This is the word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.


* HYMN:  "O God of Every Nation"                                   - VU 677


A READING FROM MATTHEW 24:36-44
   (NRSV) "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels
   of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  For as the days of
   Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those
   days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and
   giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they
   knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too
   will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Then two will be in the
   field; one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be
   grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 
   Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is
   coming.  But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in
   what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed
   awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore
   you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an
   unexpected hour.

L  This is the gospel of our Risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


SERMON:  "Walking In The Light and Waiting For Jesus "

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in 
   the thoughts that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 
   Amen.

One way to describe the Season of Advent - which has begun this day,
is to say that Advent operates in three tenses all at once.
  
In Advent we await the birth of the Christ child as the recollection of a
past event, of a birth that happened over 2000 years ago - and a
celebration that will happen - is beginning to happen - right now.

This past event has great significance in the present.  In Advent we once
   again await the birth of the Christ Child into our lives, into our
   families, into our church community.  We await this Christmas - and a
   Holy Evening, not 26 days away, where - bathed in candlelight - we will
   say:  "Yes Lord!  Thank You Lord" 
       and rejoice in his presence, his having come among us as a babe, a
       child, a man, a human like us - to love us.  

And as we wait we savour those things that remind us of all the good
Christmas's that have past.  We savour them and make them part of this
Christmas - songs and carols, special dinner dishes and treats, candle lit
worship, visits and phone calls, prayers and readings, and cards and notes,
and the wonderful smells of the season. 

In Advent we await a past event and indeed we prepare our lives for it. 
   And the preparation we do enriches our lives and makes this time a
   special time.

And, in Advent we await the future - a special future: we await the
unveiling of the reign of God, something which is continually being
revealed, but is yet to be fully realized. 

We await a time that Isaiah, and Jesus, and Paul describe as a time of
judgement: a time when accounts are settled - not always comfortably - but
always rightly -
   a time when two will be in the field; 
       one will be taken and one will be left,
   and a time when at long last all the swords are beaten into plowshares
       and all spears into pruning hooks,
       and peace - lasting peace - comes at last
   
We await a time of judgement and a time of salvation, 
the time of Christ's return 
   - the time when the whole world is of God's Kingdom 
   - the time when all who have passed through judgement are as one,
     one in joy - and in faith - and in hope - and in love.
   - the time when sin, suffering, pain, and death are no more.

Come, says Isaiah as he proclaims the word of judgement and of salvation in
today's reading, "Come - let us walk in the light of the Lord!"

That "come" is a word about what to do now - today, as we await tomorrow.

"Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" says Isaiah,
   "Stay awake, be alert", says Jesus.
"Put on the armour of light." says Paul,  

       "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the
       flesh, to gratify its desires."

That is the third tense of Advent.   
The present tense.   
The active tense.
   
Advent is not just about preparing for Christ's coming as a child from the
past.
   
Nor is Advent just about preparing for Christ's coming as the righteous
king in the future.
       
Advent is also - and primarily - about preparing for Christ's coming in our
lives - right now.

For his light to be around us and shining from within us - today.
For his spirit to be dwelling in our hearts and our minds - this minute.
For his living presence to be seen all that we say and do
    and all that we see and hear 
   - second by precious second..

In this sense advent memory and advent hope are joined together:
   - together our past experience and our future expectations about the
   reign of God and about the Christ, the Messiah, are realized now,
not simply because of our preparation for it;
   but because of the divine truth about God's past and God's present and
   God's future:
the truth that God has been with us - and will yet be with us - and even
   now is with us.

Advent as a season of the church year helps us to be prepared, 
   it reminds us to keep our ears, eyes and our hearts open,
       open for the in-breaking of the saving presence and power of
Almighty God.

These are indeed times like the times of Noah.  Ordinary times 
- times when men and women marry and are given in marriage 
- and children play games and go to school 
- and adults go to work or to the market every day.

These are ordinary times 
   with our wars and our rumours of war - 
ordinary times with our good - and with our evil - 
   with our love and with our hate
the ordinary times - when it is easy to forget the extraordinary -
and to forget to be ready for it.

For all time, but especially for this time, this ordinary time, this time
right now - the question is: is your home in order?  Is it ready?  Does it
even now embrace our Saviour?

Look around you.

I think you know and I think the church knows how to embrace the coming of
the Christ Child.  How to be ready for the celebration.  How to decorate
that which is outside - and how to decorate, how to hallow, that which is
inside.

And I think as I listen to you pray at your homes and here in this
sanctuary that you know how to read the signs of times - and to pray for
God's kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in
heaven.

I know your longing for peace 
   as you hear the news from the mid-east about terrorist bombings,
       and as you think of the children who go hungry 
          and of the earthquakes and floods that afflict the world.
I know what you hope - for we all hope for it 
   - we all hope for the time of eternal blessing
       - we hope for us and we hope for the world for the Christ to return
in power and in glory.

But what about now?  
What about the God who is here now?  
The Christ who is here now?

Is our house completely ready for him?
Are we making him comfortable?
Do we let him live with us - and own us completely?
    
Are we able to invite him into every nook and cranny of our homes,
- or are there beds we hope he will not look under
and rooms that we hope he will not enter.

The room where we hide our anger and resentment at someone.
   The chamber which we often disappear into when it seems that doing the
   right thing might cost us more time, or more comfort, or more money
   than we care to think about;
       That area where we separate out people - one from the other; that
       place where we make judgements about people and what they need and
       what they deserve.

Advent speaks to us about God's coming to us, 
   about Christ coming to us
       about light shining into the darkness
          and spears being turned into pruning hooks
              and about judgement coming upon the earth,
                 and salvation to the people of God.

That speaking is for yesterday - and for tomorrow - and - most of all - it
is for today.

Thank you Isaiah - thank you Matthew - thank you Jesus - for this word -
for this promise.

And thank you Isaiah, thank you Matthew, thank you Jesus, thank you Paul 
for the call to keep awake and to walk in the light - clad in the armour of
light.

We have good words - and good advice in our readings today 
This is a good words and good advice from God.   
Not just for the coming of the Kingdom over all the world,
Bu for the coming of Christ in our lives today.   

Clean house.   Open the doors to the secret places.   
Let the Lord who knocks come in and dine with you.
Let him ready you for the fullness of his promises,
day by day.   Amen....


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Let us pray   Lord Jesus - today - and throughout this Advent Season we are
reminded of your coming - and we are reminded that your coming is not
simply a matter of celebrating that which has past - or anticipating that
which is to come - but of having the Kingdom dawn in our hearts today.  
You call us to live now as your beloved children - as citizens of your
Realm - and to live out the peace, the hope, the joy, and the love you have
brung, are bringing, and will yet bring to us.   Help us to do that - and
to do it well - this Advent Season....   Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord Jesus, we thank you for being present with us today - and for seeking
to penetrate every nook and cranny of our lives - for seeking to make us as
holy and as loving and as wonderful and as beautiful as we were created to
be by the Father.  We thank you for how the Spirit works in us as we pray -
and as we obey your commands.  May each one of us here today, and your
whole church around the world, indeed walk in the light you provide - may
we put on your life - and avoid those things that lead to death.  Cleanse
us Lord and make us holy as you are holy....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord, we pray to you for peace in our world, the peace of your kingdom.  
Help us, and help those in authority over us - and indeed the rulers of
every nation - to walk in your light....  Lord, hear our prayer...

Lord, we lift before you, those persons and those places or situations
named in our sharing time (BIDDING PRAYER)...  Lord, hear our prayer...

All these things we pray to you - and to the Father - by the power of the
Holy Spirit.  We pray to you and we thank you - for how you have come, how
are you coming, and how you will yet come to us.  Amen


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

   Gracious and loving God, these gifts we offer are our response to
   the light which came into the world that first Christmas.  Help us
   in this Advent season to allow that light to shine through us, so
   that the dark areas of people's lives life can be pierced by
   Christ's love. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen


* SHARING THE PEACE:  We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word.
 

* COMMUNION HYMN:  "We Gather Here (Come Share The Lord)"           -VU 469


COMMUNION LITANY
L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.


EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (Prayer of Thanksgiving)
L  We give thanks that at the dawn of history, you, O God, formed our 
   forebears and breathed into them the breath of life.  When they forgot
   about you and turned away, you did not turn away from them, your love
   remained constant.  You delivered them from captivity and led them
   through the wilderness, providing food to eat and water to drink.  Your
   Spirit came upon prophets and empowered them to speak your word of
   justice and righteousness.  By the same Spirit they pointed to the
   coming of one who would be a sign of your kingdom on earth and through
   whom salvation would be poured out.  And so, with all your people on
   earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their
   unending hymn, saying

SANCTUS
P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord,
   God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
   Hosanna in the highest.

L  Indeed O Lord, blessed is the one who comes in your name. We praise you
   for how your Spirit anointed Jesus to proclaim justice to all peoples,
   good news to the poor, release for the captives, sight for the blind,
   liberty for the oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when
   you would save your people.  We thank you Holy God for how in him and
   through him - by his life, and death, and resurrection -  you have
   brought healing and new life to all who would receive it and have
   opened the way to your Kingdom for all who truly desire it   We thank
   you for his first coming among us - for how he is here now in our
   gathering - and for how he will come again....  Come, Lord Jesus, come!


WORDS OF INSTITUTION
L  Father, we remember before you now, how on the night he gave himself up
   for us, Jesus took bread, and gave you thanks (as even now we thank
   you, O Lord, for this bread), and then broke it, and gave it to his
   disciples, saying, "Take, all of you, and eat.  This is my body, broken
   for you."  In the same way, we recall how, when the meal was over,
   Jesus took the cup, the cup of blessing, and after giving you thanks
   once again, he gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take all of you and
   drink.  This is my blood, the blood of a new and  everlasting covenant,
   poured out for you and for all, for the forgiveness of sins....  Do
   this in remembrance of me."


THE MYSTERY OF FAITH AND THE CONSECRATION
L  Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

L  Loving God, send your Spirit and breathe upon these gifts of bread and
   wine - that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.  May his
   life be in us - and our life be found in him - as we await his coming
   in power and in glory.    Amen.
 

THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS:  The congregation is invited to come
                                   forward up the centre aisle, then return
                                   to their seats by the side aisles

L  The bread we now break and the cup we take are a sharing in the life of
   Christ.  As we take this cup of blessing and as we share this bread of
   life we proclaim his death with gratitude and celebrate his
   resurrection with joy.  Come and receive the gift of God.  Amen.


AFTER COMMUNION PRAYER
L: Let us pray...  (silence)....   We give thanks to you, O God, for
   renewing , refreshing and sustaining us in this meal by the presence of
   your love revealed so fully in Christ Jesus.   Send us out in the power
   of your Spirit to be daily revelations of that love.  In Jesus' name. 
   Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"              - VU 333


* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.
 

* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Jesus
- and may you be filled with the peace of God,
- nourished by the life of Jesus Christ
- and upheld by the power of the Holy Spirit
both now and forevermore.  Amen


* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964
  

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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