Sunday (mixed presence) message: Moving forward not back

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude


Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: From you, Lord, and through You,
and to You, are all things
P: To Christ be the glory forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord

Opening praise: Lord I need you

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
Where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Songwriters: Christy Nickels / Daniel Carson / Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher
© Universal Music Publishing Group
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​.
All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: The heavens are trembling
with anticipation,
P: And we wait for Jesus.
L: The nights are long
and the days are short,
P And we wait for Jesus.
L: Our redemption is drawing near,
P: And we wait for Jesus.
L: Let us hope in God
and worship as people ready to see
the salvation of our God!

Lighting of the Advent candle of Hope

Prayers of approach and confession

Response: I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time “Joyful waiting” – Vivian Houg (videorecording)

Song: Hope is a star   

Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.

When God is a child there’s joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong,
and none shall be afraid.

Peace is a ribbon that circles the earth,
giving a promise of safety and worth.

Joy is a song that welcomes the dawn,
telling the world that the Saviour is born.

Love is a flame that burns in our heart.
Jesus has come and will never depart.

Words: Brian A. Wren © 1989 Hope Publishing Group
Music: Joan C Fogg © 1989 Hope Publishing Group
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture readings:

Isaiah 64:1–9 Old Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

1 Corinthians 1:3–9 New Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:24–37 New Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

The Coming of the Son of Man

24 “But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Response: My Lord, he is a’ comin’ soon

Message: “Moving forward not back”

I believe I have mentioned that I have been around churches since I was a very young child. My first memories are of church. I was the mascot for the CGIT group. Canadian Girls in Training (sort of like Brownies and Guides with a Christian Perspective) Known as Canadian Grannies in Training by the more knowledgeable. I have been around the church for a long time. Yet in my Christian journey, I must admit some things just passed me by, I just didn’t understand. Advent for example. It seems I didn’t really understand what the word advent meant. When I looked at the lectionary I was confused, it didn’t seem to focus on the nativity, on the progression toward the birth of Christ. The fluffy sheep, happy shepherds, angels and lots of gifts.

Mr. Google is my friend, so I looked it up. The name was adopted from Latin adventus “coming; arrival” translating from Greek Parousia. In the New Testament, this is the term used for the second coming of Christ. What I never understood was that the season of Advent in our faith anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives: the physical nativity in Bethlehem, the reception of Christ into our hearts and the Second coming of God.

In those days… So begins our entry into the Season of Advent. It sounds ominous and it is. Advent is not just a liturgical season of the church year. It is a reality of life. It happens in all sorts of ways. It comes at various points in life, not just the four or five weeks before Christmas.

“In those days…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” These are Jesus’ words to his disciples. The disciples have been admiring the temple and the large stones. They are impressed. Jesus, however, is telling them that change is coming. The temple of their life is coming down.

The global pandemic has been a significant change in your life, the congregation’s life, in the lives of almost every person on the planet. If you have experienced a significant change in your life whether desired or dreaded, you know about “those days” You know about Advent. You know what it’s like to enter the darkness of change. All change, whether welcome or unwanted, brings some kind of loss. It may be the loss of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, the loss of what is comfortable, familiar, safe. Regardless, the world as we have known it has ended.

The advents of our lives set before us important questions. How will we find our way forward when the usual lights that illumined our path no longer shine? What do we do when it feels as if our world is falling apart? Where do we go when it seems as if darkness is our only companion and God is nowhere to be seen?

The dark times of life are threshold moments. The temptation is to do something; to fix it: to ease the pain, to escape the uncertainty and to get back to what used to be. The God of advent does not allow that. We can never go back to the way it was before the lights went out. God does not undo our life. God redeems our life. Advent is not so much about the losses as it is about the hope and coming of what will be. That hope and coming are the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ. The presence of Christ is the ultimate answer to every prayer, to every light extinguishing loss to every advent of our life.

Every time we tell the Advent story of our life, we echo the prophet Isaiah’s cry “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” And God does. God is faithful. God strengthens us to the end. In the midst of our losses, we lack nothing as we await the revealing of Lord Jesus Christ.

The advent times of life are times of waiting. They are liminal or transitional times. In Advent, we live in between what was and what will be. We are neither here nor there. We are betwixt and between. They are the times of transition and it is hard, sometimes even impossible to see the way forward.

If we allow them to, the dark threshold places of life can draw us deeper into the divine mystery. They remind us that we do not know everything. We do not see all possibilities. We can neither predict nor control anything. We are not in charge. Advent challenges us to give up our usual sources of illumination, to let go of our habitual ways of knowing and to question our typical ways of seeing. Advent invites us to receive the God who comes to us in the darkness of life.

At some point our world falls apart, life changes or the lights go out. More often than not we see this as the end. When these things happen, Jesus says remember the fig tree. Read the signs correctly. When its branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves you to know that summer is near. So also, when the darkness overtakes your life know that the Son of Man is near. Christ’s presence, our healing and salvation are always taking place in the dark and messy parts of life. We have not and never will be abandoned to the darkness.

“Be alert” Jesus warns. He commands us to “Keep awake”. Darkness is not our enemy as much as is falling asleep. We fall asleep whenever fear controls our life, when hope gives way to despair when the busyness is equated with goodness when entitlement replaces thanksgiving when we choose what is comfortable rather than life-giving. Whenever we think our life is over, that darkness is our final reality, that we have abandoned, or that loss and darkness are our only reality then we have fallen asleep.

Too often we allow the darkness to deceive us into believing there is nothing worth waiting or watching for. So, we close our eyes. We fall asleep and we become part of the darkness. We refuse to see the One who is always coming to us. The danger in the darkness is that we do not give our eyes time to adjust. We do not trust our night vision. Night vision is not about the light around us but the light that is within us, a light that can never be extinguished.

The Advents of our lives ask us to trust the Coming One more than the darkness. It means we must sit, listen, wait, watch. This is contrary to what most of the world believes and what our society rewards. We must show up every moment of our lives not just in spite of but because of the darkness. To show up and be present in the darkness of life is some of the hardest work we will ever do. Run from the darkness and we run from God.

In the darkness of Advent, we move slower, we listen more than we speak, we hold questions rather than answers. We wait expectantly but without specific expectations. Waiting in the darkness is an act of faithfulness and surrender to the Coming One. Waiting becomes our prayer, a prayer that is and will be answered by God’s presence.

Tell your Advent story, a story of change, loss, darkness. Then sit down. Be still. Be quiet. Listen. Wait. Watch. These are the practices of advent. Why? Because God works for those who wait for him.[i] Amen

Song: All earth is waiting    

All earth is waiting to see the Promised One,
and open furrows await the seed of God.
All the world, bound and struggling, seeks true liberty;
it cries out for justice and searches for the truth.

Thus says the prophet to those of Israel:
‘A virgin mother will bear Emmanuel,’
one whose name is ‘God with us’ our Saviour shall be;
with him hope will blossom once more within our hearts.

Mountains and valleys will have to be made plain;
open new highways, new highways for the Lord.
He is now coming closer, so come all and see,
and open the doorways as wide as wide can be.

In lowly stable the Promised One appeared;
yet feel his presence throughout the earth today,
for he lives in all Christians and is with us now;
again, with his coming he brings us liberty.

Words and Music: Alberto Taulé;
Translation: Gertrude C. Suppe
Words © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House
Music © Centro de Pastoral Liturgica 1993
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving

Song: Come thou long expected Jesus    

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us;
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art,
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver;
born a child and rest in thee,
born to reign in us forever;
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley, public Domain

Music: harmony Ralph V Williams © Oxford University Press from the English Hymnal. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

(Zoom breakout rooms)

[i] Marsh, Michael K. (2020, November 29). In those days – A sermon on Mark 13:24-37, Advent 1B. Interrupting the silence

1st Sunday of Advent

10:00 am November 29, 2020

led by: Jim Jeatt

Elder: Gina Kottke

children’s time: Vivian Houg

vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford

Copyright 2020 – Jim Jeatt, elder at Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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