Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 13 December 2020

Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday of Advent (Peace)

ISAIAH 61:1-4, 8-11

Bring Good News

Additional Scriptures

Psalm 126; John 1:6-8, 19-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a; 163:10b


Preparation

This week the Advent wreath should hold the unlighted Christ candle along with the lighted candles for Hope and Love. The Peace candle will be added to the wreath by someone sharing their testimony of peace.

Invite someone ahead of time to prepare to share a 3-5-minute testimony on peace. Possible prompt: Consider sharing a time when you experienced significant challenge, turmoil, or disruption in your life. How or where did you find peace?

Congregants should have access to their “Journey Through Advent” booklets. Have extra booklets available. 

Prelude

Carol of the Season

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” CCS 423

Welcome

Welcome in the name of the one who is Peace. We gather together on this third Sunday of Advent as one of many congregations from around the world. Our hearts beat as one to the rhythm of shalom. May we continue this journey of Advent together, not only assured of the peace that comes from our walk with the Divine, but expectant that what is being birthed within us will become a blessing to others. Welcome!

Songs of Gathering

Choose 1 or 2

“Joseph, Kind Joseph” CCS 414

OR “God’s Love Made Visible!” CCS 411

OR “Canticle of the Turning” CCS 404

OR “No Obvious Angels” CCS 418

Call to Worship Responsive Reading

Leader: What is the good news?

Congregation: The true light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world!

Leader: Our mouth will be filled with laughter!

Congregation: The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoice.

Leader: Testify to the Light, so that all might believe!

Congregation: Make straight the way of the Lord!

Leader: May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

Congregation: The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoice.

All: We will bring good news!

—From Psalm 26 and John 1, adapted

Song of Invitation

“Canticle of the Turning” CCS 404

OR “Come, Join in Mary’s Prophet Song” CCS 308

OR “God of Still Waiting” CCS 58

Invocation

Response

Lighting of the Advent Candle of Peace

Testimony of Peace

The Testimony of Peace speaker will carry the lighted candle of Peace to the front of the worship space and hold it while sharing their testimony. Once they have given their testimony, they will place the candle of Peace in the prepared wreath. As they do this, have them read or recite:

I light the Advent candle of Peace. Christ is the light of Peace in my world. Peace lives in me.

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Song of Anticipation

“Blessed Be the God of Israel” CCS 396

OR “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” CCS 400

Message: “Bring Good News”

Based on Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Song of Reflection

“Peace Child” CCS 402

OR “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” CCS 405

OR “Hope Is a Light” Stanza 2 CCS 398

Advent Reflection

Each week during Advent we are invited to reflect upon our journey through the season. Each moment we contemplate is shaped by our past, informed by our present and inspired by our future. We are challenged to “Come before (our) Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew; to be vulnerable to divine grace.” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10b)

Invite congregants open their Advent booklets to the “Peace in Motion” pages. Read the prompts and allow time for silent reflection/writing/drawing/coloring. You may choose to have quiet music playing in the background either recorded or live instrumental.

Song of Advent Contemplation—Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“I Wonder as I Wander” CCS 435

OR “Star-Child” CCS 420

OR “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?” CCS 417

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

Yahweh Shalom,

Many in our world experience daily stress, distress and even devastation. Many things often seem out of our control. If we are to be honest, we sometimes find ourselves crying out, “God, where are you in all of this?” Still our minds so that we may hear the beating of our hearts.

Pause.

In the rhythm of our collective heartbeats allow us to hear you whisper, “I am here. The peace you seek lies within each of you.” You, Lord, are shalom. Help us to acknowledge your presence within us. Lead us to speak words and act in ways that bring comfort, provide relief, ignite hope, and facilitate peace so that our lives may mirror the Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. Amen.

A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Statement

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart. As you share your mission tithes or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings.

Ask congregants to consider what times of peace they have experienced in their lives through being a generous disciple discovering whole-life stewardship that they could share with others. Then in one or two words have them share popcorn-style the peace they would offer to share.

When we understand God’s love and grace are given freely to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciplesgenerous-response-tools.

Song of Sending Forth

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” CCS 415

OR “No Obvious Angels” CCS 418

OR “Tomorrow Christ Is Coming” CCS 406

Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

Exploring the Scripture

This passage is filled with powerful images of wrongs made right, brokenness healed, and liberating joy. The words are poetic and compelling. The dialogue dances between an unknown human “ambassador” with some measure of transformative authority in the community and Yahweh—the Lord God.

Language of Spirit moving, oil, and anointing recall powerful sacramental symbols echoing sacred text in the Old Testament, which lives deep in the hearts of Yahweh’s people. This is the community that receives God's good news of deliverance, a community-wide restoration of radical newness.

Themes of salvation and mission weave through the text. Isaiah poignantly paints the picture of those who are suffering and marginalized, defining mission as actions characteristic of God's people. God's purpose is restorative justice that brings salvation through healing and wholeness to our world now, in the real world. It is about community, not individuals. It is a way of living that seeks the lost and binds the wounded with loving acts of a just peace, fearlessly challenging cultural trends that bring harm and injustice.

In the warm embrace of God’s everlasting covenant, our actions of faithful response cause righteousness, healing, wholeness, and liberation to spring up so all can see the light of God’s community signaling God’s coming reign of peace with justice.

In the season of Advent, as we prepare for the birth of Jesus, the opening verses of Isaiah 61 carry a clarion connection of great significance with the mission of Jesus announced in Luke 4:18–21. The birth of Jesus heralds the new covenant and the reversal of conventional wisdom as described throughout Isaiah 61:1–11.

Our challenge is to interpret responsibly the timeless truths found in this text as people of God living mission through acts of salvation in our time and place.

Central Ideas

  1. The good news of God’s vision and mission brings systemic transformation to a broken
    world of injustice and suffering.
  2. God’s call to mission challenges us to see our world with a clarity that often unsettles the
    status quo.
  3. The good news of deliverance is the essence of restoration as healing and redeeming agent,
    restoring healthy, righteous relationships with God, self, other, our Earth, and all creation.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some specific injustices that cause suffering today in your neighborhood, city, or
    country?
  2. How might God’s promises cause an awe-inspiring transformation in your congregation or
    among ecumenical partners of faith?
  3. How is God inviting me/us to change to allow God’s Spirit to work change in me/us and be
    a signal of peace in our world?
  4. What does it mean to be the people of God at this time and in this place?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday of Advent (Peace)

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

During Advent season a traditional visual display includes four white candles (one for each week of Advent) or an evergreen wreath with four candles plus one white candle in the center. One candle is lit each week. The center candle is lit on Christmas. Lighting the Advent candle takes place at the beginning of the spiritual practice.

Advent is a season of waiting in expectation for the coming of light into a darkened world in the form of the infant Jesus. Advent is spent anticipating and spiritually preparing for the arrival of the Christ-child. Scriptures, symbols, and hymns help make Advent a time of expectation for Christ’s birth, rather than a frenzy of holiday tasks.

The Advent season begins four weeks before Christmas and is observed each Sunday until Christmas day. An Advent wreath with four candles, plus one Christ candle in the center, often is used to observe the weeks of Advent. One candle is lit each week until all are burning brightly on Christmas.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Great Shepherd,

You faithfully lead and guide us each day, yet we still feel like voices crying out in the wilderness. You have blessed us with an abundance of love, yet we struggle to feel that abundance. God, as we look about the world today, we recognize that there are many who do not feel your love...who do not feel the love of their friends and families…who struggle with loss and division…who join our voices calling out for a sign of your love. God, grant us peace. Grant us peace that settles our weary hearts so we can love again. Grant us peace that allows us to love unconditionally, so others may recognize your light in our lives. By sharing the light of your love in our lives, we believe we can become peacemakers for those around us. Bless us with your love during this season of Advent. 

Amen.

Tiffany and Caleb Brian

Spiritual Practice

Holding in the Light - Peace

Light the second candle of Advent and say:

Today we light the third candle of Advent. This candle symbolizes Christ bringing peace to the world. May the lighting of this candle remind us to seek peace and patience in our lives. 

Place a lit candle in the center of the group.

Ask each person to share about a person or circumstance in need of God’s peace. (Write down each one.)

Invite people into a period of prayer, placing these specific people and needs in God’s loving, healing care.

Read aloud:

As we focus on the candle’s light, imagine the people for whom we pray being surrounded by God’s light.

After I read each name, we will spend a moment engaged in silent prayer.

We trust God to know the needs of each person or circumstance, and we compassionately hold them in the restorative, healing light of God.

Offer a brief prayer of thanks to close your prayer experience.

Sharing Around the Table

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11 NRSV

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing; 
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

The prophet exclaims to the exiled people of Judah: God sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. This is a time of rejoicing! A time when all shall be set right and restored. Isaiah declares it “the year of the Lord’s favor,” referencing the jubilee year, a Hebrew custom in which all debts are wiped away, slaves are freed, and land is returned to its original owners. 

But in the context of jubilee, liberty means more than freedom. True liberty means changing the social order so that none are oppressed. Here, the prophet speaks of mission, turning our attention to those who are named as recipients of the good news. These are the liberating words Jesus used as his mission statement, proclaiming to be one who will bring God’s transformation to a broken world. To be missional is to live as a people of liberation, justice, and peace. But when Christians are known to the world as those who judge, fight, and exclude, we fail to be missional, regardless of how much money we give or how many missionaries we send.

Zion’s restoration is depicted as a joyful occasion, a wedding, where she is clothed with new garments and the Earth is covered with new life. Isaiah challenges readers to rethink salvation, not as the means of getting into heaven, but as a quality of life here and now that reflects God’s desire for community. Salvation here is imagined as a rebuilt city and an abundant garden. They will start over. They will take the rubble left behind and make it new, not with the sword but with the garden spade. And they will flourish.

The ancient church called this third Sunday of Advent Gaudete, a Latin word that means “rejoice.” One might think every Sunday approaching Christmas should be one of rejoicing, but Advent season shares similar themes with Lent. Both focus on preparation and repentance, and both have a “time out” Sunday for joy. Indeed, this is a time of rejoicing. However, as we light the third Advent candle that represents peace, let us not forget those who feel oppressed, brokenhearted, captive, or imprisoned in some way. Those who wonder when God’s transformation will take place in their lives. We need not look far to see the injustice of poverty, abuse, hunger, and war. As disciples, let us not allow our Christmas distractions to speak louder than Isaiah’s call for God’s transformation.

Questions

  1. Where is God’s transformation revealed in the world today? What is God doing in people’s lives?
  2. In what ways does Isaiah challenge the way you view salvation?
  3. During this time of Christmas parties, shopping, decorations, and carols, what activities can we participate in to bring “good news” to the oppressed, brokenhearted, captive, or imprisoned?

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

This offering prayer for Advent is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God who is faithful, 

Be present with us as we plan our spending. May we use our resources to build healthy, happy relationships with you, others, and the Earth. May we remember the teachings of Jesus that challenge us to make lifestyle choices counter to our culture of accumulation and excess. 

Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 400, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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