Links of Interest/Bibliography:
The Working Preacher
St. Luke’s United Church
November 27th, 2016
Hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel VU v1, 4 & 7
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada. If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship. We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information. If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.
Lighting the Advent Wreath & Centering
Advent Chant Phil Porter (from Seasons of the Nativity)
Call to Worship:
One: We start the new year with a small light. It flickers and glows, struggling against the odds. These are days where we need all the hope we can find.
All: A single candle offers us hope.
Spirit of Hope
May we see your presence in unexpected places and faces. We pray that we fill each other with hope and renewing our spirits. Encourage us to take the hope we receive today and share it with others. Amen.
Hymn When You See a Rainbow
The Jesse Tree: the First Seven Days
Readings Daniel 6:6-27
Routinely, I sweat choosing hymns. There’s a whole process you see. If it’s a regular Sunday, there are three hymns and three choruses. Everything has to match the theme, which usually comes from the readings, but on days like today you also have to include seasonal themes. So I’m working with Daniel and Hope. But these aren’t the only guidelines that I have to work with. I do try to be respectful of the wide variety of preference that exists amongst you all. I pick one hymn from Voices United, one from More Voices, one of which needs to be upbeat and one slower. Then I make sure that there is one that was written before 1950. Do you know how many hymns exist in all of the books that Dana and I looked at that deal with Hope? How about Daniel? I’ll give you a hint – there were none that dealt with both. Two lines of a hymn, in the recesses of my memory about Daniel, one Linnea Good piece about Daniel’s friends, and very few that met the other criteria. It’s a shame really. We need more hymns about hope. There are plenty of secular songs, but not many hymns. At this time, in our particular society we need to be constantly singing songs and hymns of hope. None of this – and by this I mean any bit of Christianity, is possible without hope. Hope that we can create a world where people can live and love as their best selves without worrying. We’ve got a whole book, it’s called the Bible, of these stories…so why do we have more secular songs about hope than hymns?
We’ve heard a decent number of stories about hope this morning: the creation story, Noah, Sarah and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and even Joseph’s brothers were all hoping for something. So now we’re up to Daniel, our lectionary gift today. The Book of Daniel is an apocalyptic book, that means it’s a book with visions – kind of like a Biblical Sci-Fi.
The point of the book of Daniel is to offer hope to those who feel hopeless. When we feel ourselves being sucked in, tricked and trapped by empire, to avoid the power struggle. To realize that one person cannot control everything. It’s even true in our families. I suspect that everyone knows someone, who needs to have everything their particular version of perfect. They are upset when the children are noisy or messy, they are upset if the potatoes are a bit burned, they are upset if the big gift they ordered online has not come in, they are upset if they can’t find their favorite Christmas carol with the “right” words in the hymn book, they are upset if the light bulbs that you’ve put on the Christmas Tree for the last ten years suddenly don’t work and you can no longer purchase multi-coloured Christmas lights that don’t have blue. Christmas is bigger than all that. God is bigger than Christmas. It’s not just about who hosts the annual dinner, it’s about God’s presence in your Christmas celebrations. It’s not even about the words you use to describe God, I mean really, if there were a correct and one true way to describe God, do you really think the Bible would be as long as it is with as many books as it has? God is evident when we recognize the patterns and realize that we need to commit ourselves to breaking those patterns as we see them. I see God in so many places…in the truth and reconciliation process and in those who recognize that re-victimization that can happen when people testify. I see God in the people who have decided to stay in the US and speak up for the persecuted. I see God in the people who keep challenging us to have a dialogue about what we, as a United Church mean when we use the word “God”. I see God in our struggle as a congregation to balance tradition with the desire to model diversity and welcome all.
The passage from Daniel today reminds us that it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to step out in faith, because if you truly step out in faith, acting for the greater good, much like Daniel in coming out of the night in the den, you’ll find there’s someone else who is rooting for you and your success and will likely join you next time, if not sooner. Amen.
Minute for Mission
Hope comes to us in many forms. I invite you to consider how you might offer hope to others.
Offertory Grant Us, God, the Grace VU 540
May these gifts and those given through PAR become signs of hope for others. Amen.
Communion Hymn As We Gather at Your Table VU 457
Communion this morning will be served in small groups. When the time comes, you are invited to gather your chairs in 8 circles. Communion elements will be distributed to each circle where you will be invited to serve each other. (Communion Liturgy created by Rex Hunt, adapted)
One: May Love be with you.
All: And also with you!
One: May our hearts be opened.
All: We open ourselves to life.
One: Creator of light, Bearer of life, Source of love,
All: your ancient love stirs within us.
Passing the Peace
During the Passing of the Peace, consent is a must. You should not feel guilty if you are unable to receive someone’s gift of peace, nor should you feel guilty if your gift of peace is not received. Please be aware of body language and the variety of needs in regards to personal space.
The sacred emerges for us everywhere:
in the rhythm of the oceans
in the magnificence of the stars,
in the beauty of all beings.
All: We are grateful for the gifts of our story.
In this season, we listen for the voices crying in the wilderness.
We sing the song of angels who quiet our fears.
We find ourselves in the company of shepherds and magi
who search for what is coming to birth
in unlikely places among unlikely people.
In the company of courageous parents,
we dare to birth the holy among us.
In the divine, we live and move and have our being.
For all that is born of a sacred love,
we give our thanks and praise.
The advent of the holy is among us in every moment.
All: In Jesus of Nazareth, we see new possibilities,
new ways of being in the world.
He was moved by the plight of the poor.
He made his home with the homeless
and shared his table with those
who could not command a seat at any table.
He dreamed of a world where enemies learned to love one another,
where the abundance of creation was shared fairly,
and where love was the law of every land.
Near the end of his life,
Jesus shared a sacred tradition of his people
and shaped it into something new.
Around a simple table, he celebrated
the liberating story of Passover.
He dreamed of another revolution:
a world without a Pharaoh or a Caesar;
a world governed by the love which brought it into being.
Together with his friends,
Jesus offered the bread of hope
and the cup of compassion.
Breaking the Bread of Hope
Pouring the Cup of Compassion
Come from loneliness into the welcome of this table.
All: Come from anxiety into the peace of this table.
Come from tensions into the joy of this table.
All: Come from conflict into the love of this table.
Come and share the bread which leavens our hope.
All: Come and share the cup which strengthens our compassion.
Come to enliven our capacity to work for transformation.
All: Come, let us lay aside those things that shield our hearts.
Let us be open to the holy we meet
in the manger, and in the mirror.
Sharing the Bread and the Cup
The Bread and the Cup are shared with the blessing:
Bread of Hope
Cup of Compassion
After the Sharing (Adapted.Nancy L.Steeves, 2008)
Spirit of life, though we live in a world of need:
Here we have tasted hope and hunger for a world more just.
Here we have glimpsed the dream of creation renewed.
All: May we have the courage to be bread and wine for one another.
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing Hope Is A Candle The Good Book #18