1st Sunday of Advent
Whether this is your first time with us or your one thousand and first, we are glad that the Spirit has drawn you here today! Visitors are invited to sign the Guest Book near the front doors of the church and take home a welcome brochure to learn more about us.
As we gather for worship, please note that in accordance with current CDC guidelines for Worcester County, all are expected to wear a mask. We do this as an expression of our faith in Jesus, who calls us to love our neighbor and to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. If you do not have a mask with you today, extra masks are available by asking one of the ushers.
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God
Verse 1: Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold
Chorus: Refiner’s fire, my heat’s one desire
Is to be holy, set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy set apart for You my master
Ready to do Your will
Verse 2: Purify my heart, cleanse me from within and make me holy
Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin deep within (chorus X2)
CALL TO WORSHIP
Can one be homesick for something you’ve never known?
We are homesick for a just world, for peace like rivers, for the end of suffering.
Yes, we are homesick—
for joy that is contagious,
for nations that feel like neighbors, and for hospitals that run empty.
We are homesick for the world God promises.
We are homesick, but we are on our way.
God is here. God is still creating.
Let us worship Holy God.
CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS
When you’re a child and you get homesick at a sleepover or a summer camp, you call home and your parents come and get you. Sometimes, that’s what love looks like. Love bails us out.
In the same way, when we call upon God to confess that we’ve messed up, or forgotten something, or overlooked the truth, God answers with grace. God answers with love. So let us confess today, knowing that nothing could keep God from loving us.
We find ourselves with two options every day—
to stay homesick for the world you had in mind, or to allow cynicism to win.
Do we hope against hope, or do we throw in the towel?
Do we insist on a better world, or do we assume it’s impossible?
Forgive us for the days when cynicism wins.
Forgive us for numbing our homesick hurt instead of using it to fuel a better world. Kindle in us a hope that won’t let go.
Gratefully we pray, amen.
People of God, even when we throw in the towel, even when we give up on hope, God does not give up on us. We are loved. We are claimed. We are invited closer to God’s home. So hear and trust this good news: There is room for us in God’s house, and nothing can separate us from that love. We are claimed. We are forgiven. We are welcomed home. Thanks be to God! Amen.
You Are Holy
Verse: You are holy you are whole, you are always ever more
Than we ever understand, you are always at hand
Blessed are you coming near, blessed are you coming here
To your church in wine and bread, raised from soil raised from dead
Chorus: You are holy, You are wholeness
You are present, let the cosmos praise You Lord
Sing hosanna, in the highest
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna to our God (verse)(chorus)
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Let us pray. Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song
FIRST READING JEREMIAH 33:14-16 Stephanie Leclair
A reading from Jeremiah.
14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
WREATH-LIGHTING: HOPE Holly Pavlak & Nancy Cowan
A: We hope for a world where all are fed.
B: We hope for a world with more bridges than walls.
A: We hope for a world with wide open doors.
B: We hope for a world with contagious laughter.
A: We hope for a world where trees grow tall and creeks run clean.
B: We hope for a world where all people feel at home—in their bodies, in the church, in their physical homes.
A: We hope for that world.
B: We long for that world.
A: We are homesick for that world.
B: So today we light the candle of hope, because hope keeps our hearts alive as we wait.
A: May this light be a reminder that the wait is always worth it.
B: We are close to home. May we carry hope with us. Amen.
Light the 1st candle.
Sing to the tune of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel as the first candle of the wreath is lit.
O come and hear the songs by prophets borne
When home was lost and ev’ry hope was torn:
A righteous Branch and leaves on the tree,
God’s signs so small we often fail to see.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear!
God’s promised one, Immanuel, draws near.
(Lyrics are based on the scripture readings for the day and written by Rev. Barbara Lundblad)
GOSPEL LUKE 21:25-36
The Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus said: 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
SERMON Pastor Greg
He Came Down
- He came down that we may have love (X3)
- He came down that we may have light (X3)
- He came down that we may have peace (X3)
- He came down that we may have joy (X3)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Advent Prayer Response
Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus. Hear our prayer.
In this season of watching and waiting, let us pray for all people and places that yearn for God’s presence.
God of presence and peace, strengthen your church around the globe to proclaim the message of your love coming to the world. Help us to keep the season of Advent in our homes and in our hearts. Open our eyes to recognize your face in all people and in all of creation.
God of mighty redwoods and microscopic plants, fields and city parks, the wind and the waves, be a healing balm to our wounded planet. May we nurture what you have lovingly created.
God of equity and compassion, bring righteousness and goodness to all peoples of the earth. Give a heart of discernment and integrity to leaders in our communities. Grant them wisdom as they make decisions for the common good.
God of comfort and care, be present with those who watch and wait. Accompany those who were injured and the families of those who died in the car attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Bring healing to those who have contracted COVID-19. Come to all who are sick or struggling, especially Margaret, James, McKenna, Maria, Michael, Arthur, Jan, Phil, Charlie, Karen, Vila, all those affected by addiction, all those affected by mental illness, all military personnel and first responders.
God of promises kept and new dreams awakened, unlock our hearts and minds to see the abundance of our many blessings. On this Thanksgiving weekend, teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, and to share what you have given to us with those in need. Especially we pray for Afghan refugees seeking a safe home, and for those who will receive gifts through Good Shepherd’s Christmas Giving Tree.
God of companionship and community, we give you thanks for the saints who journeyed with us and now abide in you. Even in distress and uncertainty, make us confident that your promises endure forever.
God of new life, you come among us in the places we least expect. Receive these prayers and those of our hearts, in the name of Jesus.
Even So Come
God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give God thanks and praise.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory, full of your glory.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Let us pray as Jesus taught us, each in the words or language of our choice.
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, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
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. Amen.
At this table, Christ is both host and meal, and offers himself to all who hunger and thirst for his presence. We believe that he is truly present in this sacrament.
When you come forward, the pastor will place bread in your hand. Gluten-free wafers are available upon request. You can receive wine by taking a cup from the tray (the cups in the center contain white grape juice).
If you do not wish to commune, you are welcome to come forward and receive a blessing.
If you need to receive communion in your seat, simply notify an usher.
No one is too young to receive this sacrament, though some families wish to give their children some instruction before they take their first communion. If a young child accompanies you, please indicate to the pastor whether they should receive bread or a blessing.
God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world
Bring Forth The Kingdom
Verse 1: You are salt for the earth O people, salt for the kingdom of God
Share the flavor of life O people, life in the kingdom of God
Chorus: Bring for the kingdom of mercy, bring forth the kingdom of peace
Bring forth the kingdom of justice, bring forth the kingdom of God
Verse 2: You are a light on the hill O people, light for the city of God
Shine so holy and bright O people, shine for the kingdom of God (chorus)
Verse 3: You are a seed of the word O people, bring forth the kingdom of God
Seeds of mercy and seeds of justice, grow in the kingdom of God (chorus)
Verse 4: We are a blest and a pilgrim people, bound for the kingdom of God
Love our journey and love our homeland, love is the kingdom of God (chorus)
Go in peace. Prepare the way of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
From Sundays and Seasons.com. © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27028. New Revised Standard Version Bible, ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. CCLI#1313879. OneLicense # A-716488.
Credits: “My Heart Shall Sing” Preface and Great Thanksgiving by Barn Geese Worship is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0. Adapted for use by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
Call to worship, Confession and Forgiveness, and the Advent wreath lighting are adapted from a materials written by Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org.