Second Sunday of Advent A, December 4, 2016

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19
Romans 15: 4-13
Matthew 3: 1-12

CALL TO WORSHIP [ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING – PEACE]
One: Prepare the way for the Christ child.  God is about to be born among us.
All: We humbly wait for the light of the world to descend into our midst.
One: We hear your desire that we live in harmony with one another that we may glorify you with one voice.
All: We are your people baptized in water and with the fire of your Holy Spirit.
[One: We light this candle for the One with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
All: We light this candle of Peace hoping that no more will there be pain or destruction in all of God’s holy creation, so that the earth may be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.]
One: Holy God, in these days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
All: With quiet expectation, we come to worship the God who is, was, and is soon to come again.

OPENING PRAYER
Are you there God?  It seems so quiet.  So much is warring within us and between us that we have a hard time finding you in this darkness.  We have a hard time remembering the fire of the Holy Spirit that you bring.  We have a hard time seeing the light.  But we come, not understanding your ways. But we come almost ready and waiting.  We are here, expectant. Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Let us come before the Lord confessing our sins and crooked paths.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Loving God, we do not bear fruit worthy of repentance. We do not welcome one another as you welcome us.  We have no idea how a wolf could live with a lamb  Why wouldn’t a kid fear a leopard?  The calf and the lion and the fatling together sound crazy, but a little child shall lead them – and us.  We have hurt and destroyed on your mountain.  We have not lived into your hopes and dreams for us.  We have not spread your peace.  We are too often the wolf, the leopard and the lion.  Help us learn to follow the little child and love the kid, calf and falling.  Help us live into your love and peace and promise for us.  Forgive us, please.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We have been baptized with the waters of repentance, and God never gives up on us – on you.  Know that in the name of Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven.  Now go and sin no more.

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
As we wait for the story to begin, we are reminded here at this table of its darkest times.  We are reminded of the epic ending that re-started the world over again.  We come hoping for a baby who is adorable and precious and full of snuggles.  What we get here is a tired Savior in full knowledge of his upcoming betrayal and death.  In this time of hope and new life we are at a table that reminds us of loss and death.  But we are a people of the resurrection.  We are a people of the story lived out.  We are a people who maintain hope for what is to come – hope from the assurances in the stories of the lengths to which God’s love has gone.  Come to this table as you are, ready to walk whatever journey God has for us in scripture, in worship, in life.  Come.

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