Second Sunday of Advent (Peace)
MARK 1:1–8/1:1–6 IV
Proclaim the Good News
Isaiah 40:1–11; Psalm 85:1–2, 8–13; 2 Peter 3:8–15a; Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a
Advent Worship Setting
Create an arrangement of five candles as the focus of the worship center. This can be embellished with greenery or other decorations in keeping with your meeting space. You may choose to use three purple, one pink, and one white candle, or an arrangement of candles of your choosing. Each Sunday one additional candle is lit, culminating with the lighting of the fifth candle, the Christ candle (white), on Christmas Day. (Have one Advent candle lit before the service begins.)
Advent Focus Moment Preparation
See 3 December 2017 Advent Focus Moment Preparation for details.
Worship Preparation and Prelude
Invitation to Worship
Isaiah 40:3–4, 11
Lighting of the Advent Candle of Peace
Leader: Today we light the candle of peace and reflect on the need for peace in our lives. Peace restores balance,
Left: reconciles us with each other,
Right: and draws us close to you.
Leader: Let us seek peace, not just for ourselves, but for others—
Left: those in war-torn countries,
Right: those who live in poverty,
Left: those who are consumed with anger and fear,
Right: those who feel emptiness and sadness.
All: Come, come, Emmanuel, and live in our hearts today. May we sense your peace and seek ways to be peacemakers each day.
Leader lights the candle of peace and is seated.
“Comfort, Comfort Now My People” CCS 407
OR “God Almighty, We Are Waiting” CCS 397
OR “All Earth Is Hopeful/Toda la tierra” CCS 392/393
Advent Reflection on Peace
The presider or another reader shares this prayer. Pauses for congregational meditation can be added after each sentence allowing the congregation time for reflection.
Restore us, again, O God. Show us your steadfast love. Let us hear what it is you would say to us today. As we seek for peace in our world, let us look to you. But let us also look within ourselves and recognize the thoughts and actions that tend to hurt or offend. Let us be honest with ourselves about our motives and the way we treat others. May your love and faithfulness be a reminder to align our lives with yours, bringing peace and reconciliation to our families, congregations, communities, and world. In this Advent season, may all find true peace. Amen.
Hymn of Confession
“Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit” CCS 209
OR “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart” CCS 48
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
We come to you today in the rush of the season, seeking your counsel and wisdom in our lives. We pray, Lord, that as we sing the alleluias, the peace on Earth, the goodwill to all, we will not mock the angels’ message by our lack of caring.
Help us to do as the shepherds, and go up to Bethlehem to see this thing which has come to us. Let us follow the star, basking in the twinkling banners of light, illuminated by the rays of your son.
As we travel from the rude stable down the lonely path to Golgotha, help us realize that we too must die to self to bring peace to a world of desolation and despair. Transform us, O God, into makers of peace, who see you clearly, and being reborn, take our place at the manger, living a life dedicated to the cross.
We pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily -prayer-for-peace.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a
We are called to look beyond our walls and respond to the multitude of needs around the world—real people, brothers and sisters, who yearn for Christ’s peace even as we do. We have the capacity to make a difference. How will you respond?
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Ministry of Music or Hymn
“On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry” CCS 391
OR “Peace Child” CCS 402
Focus Moment of Peace
Ask a youth or young adult to give a short testimony reflecting on peace.
OR Continue reading Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect, beginning with page 4, “One cold night…” and ending with page 6 which begins “In the morning…” and ends with “a tree so beautiful.”
Storyteller Talking Points (prior to today’s reading)
- Does anyone know our Advent theme for the day? Last Sunday it was hope. This Sunday our theme is PEACE!
- Last Sunday we read about Small Pine. Who can tell me about Small Pine?
- What kind of tree is it?
- What kind of tree is chosen by the Queen for her Christmas celebration?
- Do you think she might choose Small Pine? Let's see!
Storyteller Talking Points (after today’s reading)
- Are you sad for the small tree?
- How did Small Pine share peace with the little bunny?
Place the bunny under the tree and pull down the branches to partially cover the bunny.
- Was letting the bunny hide in the tree the right thing to do?
- What about Small Pine's branches? Do you think it has lost its chance to be the perfect tree for the Queen's celebration? We will find out over the next two weeks!
Give children their pictures of Small Pine from last week. Be sure you have plenty of coloring pages for all newcomers. Only give children green and brown crayons (pastels) this Sunday. Have children draw the bunny that Small Pine helped save and with whom it shared peace. Collect the pictures afterward and add them to the big Christmas tree or gallery space. Keep the pictures in place all week so they will be there the following Sunday.
Based on Mark 1:1–8/1:1–6 IV
“No Obvious Angels” CCS 418
OR “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” CCS 415
Holy Spirit of joy and hope, of new birth and celebration, bless each one with a spirit of worship and awareness as we search again for your star. May we rediscover the deep and simple joys of a sacred season.
Blur from our eyes the sparkling garland and let them reflect, instead, the light of Christ. Raise our hearing above the clamor of commerce and let us listen to the bells of freedom and justice. As we enjoy the fragrance of pine and evergreen, may its purity clarify our understanding of heaven and nature—singing—in harmony…
At this advent, we pray in the name of the newborn and Living Christ. Amen.
“Bless the Lord” CCS 575
Second Sunday of Advent
Exploring the Scripture
The Gospel of Mark is the story of a journey. It is the “good news” of the journey Jesus takes from his hometown of Nazareth to Jerusalem, and eventually to the cross. The gospel writer frames all we read here with the knowledge the story will eventually end in Jerusalem; Jesus also understands his life and ministry will take him there. The disciples who join him on the way will struggle to understand this journey, even to the very end.
Mark’s Gospel lets us know from the outset who the good news is about—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This Gospel does not have a birth account, like those found in Luke and Matthew, instead it begins with the time just before the start of Jesus’ ministry. For Mark the journey of Jesus, or the way, is the most important feature of the story. He begins by quoting Isaiah and telling us about John the baptizer and his role in preparing the way for Jesus.
John is a unique person. He has left the norms of society and has moved to the countryside where he wears clothes and eats food that set him apart from the everyday person. Yet, many come to him to confess their sins and be cleansed or baptized, and forgiven. What prompted this following? The Gospel makes clear that it was not John himself who was drawing the crowds, it was his message of the One he proclaimed. People from all around the area were looking for the Messiah who would change their world, and John’s role was to prepare them for his arrival and tell of the Holy Spirit that would come as a result. Expectation of new possibilities filled the air as John spoke of the One to come.
This is the second Sunday of Advent and we are also in a time of preparation and expectation. Like the earliest followers, we come today to hear the good news of what is to come. But we know the rest of the story; we know about the journey Jesus took and where it led him.
Unlike those who came to hear John preach, and the early disciples, we know and understand that “the way” leads to the cross. That doesn’t mean our choice to walk with Jesus on this journey is any easier. In fact, it most likely makes it more difficult. We understand that when we follow the way, we, like John, will need to live differently. We will be called to live in a countercultural way, think first of the other, and speak of the One who is greater than us.
While we will not have to face crucifixion, our crosses will not be easy. However, we are better prepared because we know and have experienced the Holy Spirit of which John speaks. We know we do not journey alone, but with the knowledge of God’s grace and love. The way has been prepared for us. Let us celebrate the good news that is to come this Christmas season.
We open ourselves to the Spirit of Christ, to experience forgiveness of sins, just as John the Baptist preached repentance for sins. We choose to follow Jesus; the way has been prepared.
- The life and ministry of Jesus is a journey, which leads to Jerusalem and finally to the cross.
- We, like the early disciples, are called to join Jesus on the way that has been prepared for us.
- Being on the way with Jesus calls us to take up our own crosses and live and act differently.
- We expect the birth of Jesus who brings us the Holy Spirit to comfort us on this journey.
Questions to Consider
- When have you felt called to be on the way with Jesus?
- How has the Holy Spirit prepared the way for you?
- How has following Jesus called you to live counter-culturally?
- What does the celebration of Jesus’ birth mean for you today?