3 December 2023
God Invites Us To Gather
Words of Welcome
- Welcome to worship here at Maple Grove United
- My name is Rev. Jessica McCrae and I am so happy to be leading this time of worship with you along with our musicians Dr. Deborah Henry and Eran Rozen, Pat McKee on guitar, our choir, our scripture reader Gord Penley, our greeter Mary Lloyd, Charlotte on live streaming and projection, with Greg on sound. Thank you everyone!
- Reminder that the contemplative prayer sessions Arnaud and I are running continue on Wednesday in the chapel at 11, also week 2 of our Advent bible study is in the chapel on Thursday at 11.
- Christmas Eve services 6:30 instant pageant family service and 9 pm traditional candles and communion
- Longest Night service Dec 21 at 7 pm
- If you would like to make a financial donation to the ministry of this church you can leave a donation on the plate near the back of the church, where you entered … or you can do so online through etransfer or Canada Helps.
Acknowledgment of the Land –
Today we are worshiping on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, the Attawandaron and the Haudenosaunee. These are the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit. We acknowledge the relationship the first peoples have with the land and as a church we commit to the work of reconciliation, through listening and learning.
Our Christ Candle is lit. We give thanks for the light of Christ in our life and in the work and worship we do together. If you are at home I invite you to light your own candle to celebrate the light that lives in our world. Let us prepare our hearts and minds for our worship, as we listen to our prelude.
Lighting the Advent Candle – Hope
Sue and Paul Newman
Rev. Jessica: We wait as people surprised again and again by God who shakes us out of our complacency and wakes us up to the work of the kin-dom all around us.
Sue Newman: We light this candle as a sign of our shocking hope. May we stay awake to God’s activity in the world as we wait in expectation that even now God is with us, working to restore us to the fullness of life with God and one another. Amen.
First candle is lit.
Sung Response: Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New. MV 115
Call to Worship
This is it – the moment to wake from sleep.
We awaken to greet the day, yearning for God’s peace on this earth.
Let us lay down our swords and gather courage to walk out of the darkness.
Let us walk in hope and live as peacekeepers.
Let us worship our God as expectant believers.
We worship with joy, knowing Christ will come!
Christ will come! A new day is dawning.
*Hymn: People Look East. VU 9
Prayer of Approach & The Lord’s Prayer
Loving God, in this time of preparation and planning,
We thank you for the hope and peace you unfailingly offer us.
Show us the creative power of hope.
Teach us the peace that comes from justice.
Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you,
That we may walk in the light of Christ.
This and all our Advent prayers we bring in the name of the Risen Christ, whose peace calls to us and who taught us to pray together saying:
Hallowed be your name
Your kindom come
Your 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 yours is the kindom
The power and the glory
Forever and ever
We Celebrate the Sacrament of Communion
God’s Banquet is coming. The time we await when all will gather from North, East, West and South.
A banquet where the rich and powerful will sit with the weak and poverty-stricken. A table where young and old will learn from each other. A time when all will sit together in peace, “and the wolf will lie down with the lamb”.
Here at this table we get a foretaste of God’s banquet. This is indeed God’s table, not the church’s, and so all who seek to follow The Way are welcome to eat and drink from it.
Come and taste the grace eternal, come and see that God is good.
The Great Thanksgiving
God is with us
We are not alone
Christ is present here
The Spirit moves within us
Let us give thanks to God
In memory and in hope
Blessings be to you, Creator God,
Who in the beginning brought light and life to the world and who continues to bring it love and light everlasting.
Your song of wisdom echoes through the ages, your ancient promise still brings us hope.
Over the ages you have called people to embrace your hope and share your love.
But even when they have closed their ears to the song you did not stop singing.
You sent prophets and messengers to your people, reminding them of the promised time of peace and justice that would surround the world.
They came in the midst of our despair and filled us with hope.
And then you came to a young woman named Mary and laid out the promise in a new way
Promising her a son, who would be called Jesus
Promising her that through her son the world would be changed
And now as we prepare for that child to be born, we echo the ancient cry:
O come, O come Emmanuel
Yet even now, as we prepare to celebrate his birth, we remember the life that this baby will live.
We remember how he broke the bonds of human tradition to show all what the Banquet of Hope could be, as he ate openly with the despised and the outcast of his world.
And we remember one special meal, foretaste of the banquet that is to come, that he ate with his closest friends.
Gathering them together in an upper room to share the story of liberation, he prepared them for liberation.
And at the end of the meal he took bread, blessed and broke it, then passed it to them saying:
Take and eat. This bread is the body of Life, broken by the world.
Eat it in remembrance and in hope.
After that he took the cup, blessed it, and passed it to them saying:
This cup is the sign of the New Covenant. Whenever you drink it remember me, for I shall not eat or drink again until the time of the heavenly banquet.
Remembering the birth of the child in the stable, we remember also his life, his death and his resurrection.
We remember how he poured his love out all he met and look forward to his return and the coming reign of peace, love, and justice.
And in our remembering we celebrate the mystery of faith
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
God, you poured your Spirit on Mary and she sang words of defiance and hope.
Pour out your Spirit upon us gathered here. As we eat and drink may we know your presence.
As we eat and drink may we be opened to the possibilities of your hope and power
And may we be strengthened in our time of waiting for peace and justice so that we will have the courage to make the Christmas promise a reality.
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
Jesus Christ the bread of life.
Jesus Christ the true vine.
Sung Response: Wait for the Lord. VU 22 (3x)
The Word of God Proclaimed
Prayer of Illumination (Gord Penley)
God, you call us to prepare the way in the world for your love, for your hope, for your peace, for your joy.
May your Word prepare our hearts for action and service. Amen.
Reading: Luke 21:25-26 page 85 of your pew bibles, in the New Testament
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. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”[a]
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven 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, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be 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.”
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.
Sermon: What Doesn’t Kill Us …
Hymn: Joy Is Now in Every Place VU 45
Our Response to God
Offering: We will take time in our service now to give thanks for the gifts that have been given so generously this week – financial donations, donations to our outreach projects, time, talents, and prayers …. Let us stay seated as we sing …
Offering Hymn: In The Bleak Midwinter (v. 4) VU 55
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him – give my heart.
We thank you, loving God, for the abundance of your gifts poured out upon us, and the promise of new life and hope you bring to us. We ask that you use these gifts and offerings to spread healing and hope throughout the world, so that we may have an active role in welcoming something new into our hurting world. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Prayers of the People
God of hope, Thank you for your unfailing presence with us, even when the world seems turned upside down, we are filled with hope and joy at the promises you make for us.
Promises of a world transformed, an end to fear, the assurance of healing and wholeness.
We eagerly await the celebration of Christmas, of the coming of your son, and look forward to our role in the story – help us God to see where we can play our part, making room for you and helping to bring hope to life.
Help us to trust that things can be different.
Help us live as people of grace — people who are changed because we have encountered the living God.
In a time when the world wants to focus on fear, when people want to divide us, when there is so much anxiety and distrust, help us to see all people as your children.
Help us find common ground where we are able, knowing that together we can bring peace and new beginnings.
In a world where so many are oppressed, running for their lives, living in poverty, freezing on the streets, filled with fear and living with violence,
help us to hear the stories, help us to recognize opportunities to help,
help us to work for justice and peace so that hope and compassion will overcome fear.
May your grace, peace and healing hope be upon all who walk in darkness this day God, all who struggle, who suffer, who fear, who grieve … all who are feeling weak, and alone, and at the end of their rope …
May your message of hope and radical change find life in our world and in every heart.
We celebrate in the hope of the One who was born in a lowly stable and who will come again. We remember that he is Emmanuel, God with us. Always.
That is what gives us confidence to move forward, even if the path is uncertain, even as the world is changing, even as we do not know what tomorrow brings.
We know you are here. With us.
Guide us on our Advent journey,
Guide us home.
*Hymn: Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending VU 25
Sung Blessing: Go Now In Peace