First Sunday in Advent

1st-candle

2022 First Sunday of Advent: November 27

Waiting for HOPE

Reader #1: As we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord, we prepare our homes for the arrival of family and friends with whom we will sit and dine and visit. We treasure a safe and loving home; let us live in hope for our heavenly home to come.

[Alternative younger reader #1: Home is a great place to be at Christmas. I can’t wait to open gifts, eat with family and friends and have fun. Home is the best place to be this time of year.]

Reader #2: Mary and Joseph had to leave home, just when they needed home the most. Their difficult journey to Bethlehem meant they were alone at a time when they most needed community. They traveled in hope that God would be with them during their journey. And God was! God was faithfully present to Mary and Joseph as they traveled.

Reader #3: Once in unfamiliar Bethlehem, they experienced God as keeper
of promises. Jeremiah 33:14-16 says: ‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.” Their baby Jesus was born.

All gathered sing: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, verse 1:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel;
 that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear; Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Reader #1: Today, in a world that makes the barn in Bethlehem feel like a very long time ago, God calls for community to help keep all people safe, to give the homeless shelter, and to offer hope to the hopeless.

Lighting of the Candle:

Reader #2: We light this candle in hope for every child of God
 who has lost their way from home. We light this candle in acknowledgement that God wants all to live in safety, and we hope we will live a renewed commitment that we will work to make it so.

All: We light these candles as symbols of God’s light shining in the darkness. The Light has come into the world. The first chapter of John says that the darkness has not understood it. But we are assured: the darkness will never overcome it.

Reader #1: Prayer Let us pray,

Dear God, you are our heart’s home. Your home is safe, loving, and eternal. But, so many of your people are trapped in homes that are not safe. Or they are forced to leave homes that are — for nightmares they barely escape. Give them hope for a better day. Make us your instruments, that we might be peacemakers in the world.

You chose to incarnate yourself into a family that had little else but love on the night you were born. Rescue us from the danger of being obsessed with ourselves so that we can see the needs, and the hope, around us. Draw us closer to your light as we draw closer to Christmas.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.