Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowbound Worship

Meteorologists are predicting a serious snowstorm tonight and into tomorrow. Some churches have already canceled worship.  And while we never cancel worship, there will no doubt be people who will not (and should not) travel to church. One of my colleagues had a brilliant idea to create a sort of online virtual worship service. So, with a hat tip to Rev. Karen Munson of Brunswick United Methodist Church (and borrowing some of her material), here is a suggested format for worshiping at home. The words can be read by one person or, if you're with others who wish to participate you can use the "One" and "All" parts.  

Preparation: If you don't have an Advent wreath, gather 3 candles to light.

Centering Music: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (click here)

Call to Worship: (based on Philippians 4:4-7)
One: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
All: Rejoice!  Emmanuel is near.
One: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
All: Rejoice!  Emmanuel is near.
One: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
All: Rejoice!  Emmanuel is near.

Lighting the Advent Candle of Joy:  Adapted from Martha Spong
One: The poet, Mary Oliver, wrote: “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it…Don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”  When the day approached when the Israelites would return to their home from exile in Babylon, the prophet Isaiah spoke God’s promise: “They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads, welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.” The people rejoiced, amazed to have a second chance.  The end of the story had yet to be written.
All: As we light the candle of Joy, we celebrate the One who has come, is coming and will come again. Whatever we face in life, God will make joy possible. 

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10 (click here to read)

Message: "Joy...To Get Me Through The Tough Days" (click here)

Response Song: "I'm Trading My Sorrows" (click here)

What sorrows would you trade?  What burdens would you lay down for the joy of the Lord?

Praying Together:
Receive God’s gift of time to be in prayer, offering God any burdens or joys that you are aware of for yourself, others, the world. Don’t rush.  Receive silence as well as words.  God has all the time in the world for you!
Then join in the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:
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 trespasses 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.  Amen. 

Sharing Gifts and Self:  
If you are worshiping with others, take turns naming God’s gifts that you recognize in each other.  Make sure that everyone has a gift named! If you are worshiping by yourself, take a few minutes to name the gifts you recognize in at least 3 people you know. Next, name gifts that God has placed in your life this day.

Prayer of Thanksgiving  by Thom Shuman
It is your nature to be holy,
and gracious in the giving of Jesus,
your Child, our salvation.
He comes to the barren places,
so life might blossom in us.
He comes into our brokenness,
so we might be made whole.
He comes into our silence,
telling us of your miracles of grace and hope.
He went into our death,
and comes forth bringing resurrection for all.
As we prepare to celebrate his birth
and to journey with him once again,
we thank you for giving us the gift of Jesus. Amen.

Closing song: "Joy to the World/Shout for Joy"  (click here)

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