Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent 3A prayers and other texts

Some explanation and background can be found here.  Texts for Advent 3A here.  With any luck there might be some connections.

Call to Worship: (adapted from Isaiah 35, Psalm 146, and James 5)
One: The desert shall blossom abundantly.
All: Our souls are so dry.  How can anything bloom there?
One: Teach us the patience of the farmer waiting for the crops to grow.
All: Be patient, Lord, with our weary, waiting souls.
One: We have hope in the Lord, who made heaven and earth, deserts and blossoms and growing crops, all teaching us how to wait.
All: Thanks be to God.

Prayer of the Day:
Great creating God, maker of all that grows, be present among us this day even as we wait with difficult patience for the coming of your Son into our world.  Teach us the patience to wait for your movement among us, to wait for your time of growing and blooming and maturing.  Let our energies be devoted to pursuing your justice in your world, and to restoring all people and all of creation to right relationship to you.  These things we seek in the name of your Son for whom we wait, in the power of the Spirit, Amen.

Prayer of Confession:
Holy and everlasting God, we fail ourselves and we fail you in more ways than we can count.  We run ahead when we need to wait for you, and yet we are indulgent and tolerate injustice when you call us to demand justice.  Our stewardship of creation is destructive, violating your sacred land so nothing can bloom and flourish.  Our gratification of our desires exploits the poor and impoverishes our spirits.  And we take offense when you call us to justice.  Good Lord, forgive us.  We need your Spirit to help us repent and live rightly with all you have made. 

Assurance of Pardon:
Hear this good news: the wilderness and the dry land will still rejoice – not because of anything we have done, but because our God is a restoring God, making highways through the rough places and opening blind eyes.  Our Lord Jesus does not condemn us but calls us to be one with him in bringing forth justice and peace in God’s creation.  For this good work, in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer for Illumination:
Dearest God, open our blinded eyes, open our deafened ears that we might see and hear your word to us in the words of your scriptures.  Amen.

Communion – The Great Prayer:

Hear these words from scripture: (James 5:7-8)
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also must be patient.  Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

When our world seems its driest and dreariest, when justice is mocked, the poor are punished for their poverty, and the ones oppressed hear no good news, we are called to be bearers of hope and justice.  We become blossoms in the desert, testifying to the opening of our blind eyes and the softening of our hardened hearts.  Our witness at this table, sharing bread and cup across all the divides the world can build, shows God’s promise to be coming for all who cry out. 

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

Holy and Great Creator, we give thanks and rejoice in your unending provision for your people.  From earliest times you delivered your people from deserts, sending food to eat and providing water from the rock when they faltered in the wilderness.  You parted seas and rivers to deliver them from oppression.  Time and again you opened your heart to give good things to your people; fruitful and abundant lands, bountiful seas, and winds and rains to bring refreshment and nourishment to your people.
Still we your people fail you, squandering your good gifts and spoiling your creation.  Yet you do not forsake us; you call us back by the voices of the prophets, the songs of the psalmists, the proclamation of your disciples. 
Teach us to sing in hope with all of your creation:

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.

We give thanks for your Son Jesus Christ, who came into this world to proclaim your good news of new sight and hearing, liberation and cleansing and new life.  In the waters of baptism he claimed humanity alongside us, and in breaking bread and sharing the cup from the vine he showed us how that humanity is to live at one with him and with one another.  In his words, his deeds, his living and dying and rising, he delivered us from sin into new resurrection life.

Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Send your Holy Spirit among us, Lord, upending our settled ways and satisfactions and reorienting us to your justice, where wilderness cannot threaten and where good news is for the poor and oppressed.  In your Spirit turn us around to be agents of that justice, and right stewards of all you have made. 
Glory to the One who creates, the One who redeems, and the One who sustains all, Three in One, One in Three, now and forever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Bread and the Cup:
Once a farmer waited patiently for the precious crop of grain, tending soil, watering and replenishing it, until the harvest came forth.  Those grains have become the bread that Jesus breaks and blesses, ministering to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and showing us how to be ministers to one another.

Once a vintner waited patiently for the precious crop of grapes, tending and pruning the vines, waiting for sun and water to do their work until the harvest came forth.  The fruit of that vine has become the cup that we share in Christ, flowing among us like life itself, and showing us how to live with one another in the Spirit.

The table is ready.  Come, let us share the blessings of Christ’s table.

Prayer After Communion:

God of the desert and the wilderness, of grains and fruits and all that grows and lives and is, we thank you for your unyielding love for us shown to us in your gifts of grain and vine.  Let your gifts unsettle us so that we will not rest in a world of injustice and oppression, but will overturn the world so that all will eat, all will live in your freedom, and all will know your peace.  Amen.

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