God, we are an Advent people,
a people of hope.
For us, Advent is a time of waiting,
and so we wait.
We wait for the coming of your Son
who is the fulfillment of your promise,
the fulfillment of hope,
the declaration that we have been redeemed.
Even so, we are not a naïve people.
We know that the world in which we live
will continue to be filled with pain and sorrow.
We know that hatred and violence will continue to exist.
We know that death and separation will continue to be a part of our lives.
But because we are your Advent people,
we know that none of these things will win in the end.
The Holy One is coming,
to make holy once again
all that was, is, and ever will be.
And in our waiting and our hoping,
we work and worship,
pray and play,
in all things hoping that peace, love and joy will reign
in our lives and in our world,
now and forever.
For this reason, we gather today to worship,
and light the third candle of Advent,
in the name of the Father,
of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In prayer, let us confess to God as a community.
O holy God, our very waiting in Advent is itself a confession:
If we are waiting for Emmanuel, we are not yet with you;
if we are waiting for Jesus, we need a Savior.
If we are waiting for the Messiah,
the proud are still powerful,
the mighty are still exalted,
the hungry stand unheard at the door.
If we are waiting for your incarnation in human form,
we confess that we have not known you in our sisters,
we have not loved you in our brothers,
we have not served you in our neighbors.
In this time of great meaning, in the stillness of Advent,
hear our deepest confession; heal us, forgive us,
make us new through the good tidings of our Savior,
Christ the Lord.
We ask of our God in community, holy in One.
Is our expectations of God based on hope or on fear?
How have we put our expectations of God in a box when He is the ultimate creative maker of this world?
How do we respond to our expectations of God? With entitlement or with faith?
One day the wilderness will blossom with flowers;
the desert wasteland will come alive with new growth
and God’s glory and splendor will be on full display.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to save you.”
So go with confidence into the days ahead.
And may the love of God,
the grace of Jesus Christ,
and the presence of the Holy Spirit,
be among you and within you.
Go in peace and live the church.
See you throughout the week.
[Photo by William James Vincent @ Flickr]