November 28, 2021 - Advent 1

November 28, 2021 1st Sunday of Advent - HOPE

Morning prayer

Father God, we shudder at signs we see.  Anxieties bombard us.  Our hearts are afraid.  Lord, let us be vigilant, hold our heads high.  Make us an Advent people with hope as our stronghold. 

Jesus, You once came into our world with all its sorrows.  Keep us awake and alert to Your presence in the midst of our struggles now.  Tell us again that Your love will triumph.  Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #202 People, Look East

1   People, look east.  The time is near of the crowning of the year.

     Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table.

     People, look east and sing today:  Love, the Guest, is on the way.

2   Furrows, be glad.  Though earth is bare, one more seed is planted there.

     Give up your strength the seed to nourish, that in course the flower may flourish.

     People, look east and sing today:  Love, the Rose, is on the way.

3   Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim, one more light the bowl shall brim,

     Shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together.

     People, look east and sing today:  Love, the Star, is on the way.

4   Angels announce with shouts of mirth Him who brings new life to earth.

     Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming.

     People, look east and sing today:  Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Lighting of the Advent Candle – HOPE

Jeremiah 33:14-16

33:14 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

33:16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."

We light this candle as a sign of hope in the One that is to come again.

Light one of the PURPLE candles

Children’s message – Talking to the prophets – Jeremiah

Do you know what a prophet is? A prophet is a messenger from God, someone who shares God’s with God’s people and God’s world. Sometimes they are good news and sometimes these messages aren’t so good for the people they are meant for, but it is always God’s word for our good. We always need to hear what God has to say to us, even when we don’t like the message, because is always pursuing us to be in relationship with us. I thought it might be a good idea to introduce you to the prophets we will be hearing from this Advent season, so this morning it is Jeremiah. I bet there are many who have a favorite verse from Jeremiah – it comes from chapter 29, verse 11: For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”  While this a great verse to rely upon, Jeremiah has a lot more to say.

Jeremiah began his call as a prophet in 626 BCE and serves under 5 different kings. He sees the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BCE. Jeremiah is tasked with proclaiming this destruction and tells Israel of her failings to be in relationship with God in the ways they turned from God to worship another god. He tried repeatedly to move Israel to return to God, but they did not until they were taken away to Babylon.

Jeremiah delivers both messages of destruction and brings words of hope, like the words this morning in our Advent reading. God is always working toward our reconciliation with God and Jesus is proof of God’s deep love for us.

Let us pray: Father God, give us ears to hear the messages of the prophets from old and the prophets of today, all of them calling us back to the God who loves us endlessly. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You most gracious and forgiving Father for hearing the cries of our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight:  Your tithes and offerings permit us to use technology in our worship services and for advertising, record-keeping and communication.  Thank you for supporting the ministries of Lightstreet United Methodist Church.    

Offertory prayer:  Holy God of new beginnings, as we share our tithes and offerings with you, we are filled with hope. We enter the season of Advent with expectation; we have left behind us a time of fear, isolation, and uncertainty; and we raise our heads because we know our redemption is coming near. May our gifts be dedicated to help heal the brokenness of our world and to welcome our Messiah into the world once again. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Preparation Hymn: #140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

1   Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee;

     Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;

     As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided; great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

2   Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

     sun, moon and stars in their courses above

Join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

3   Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Message scripture: Luke 21:25-36

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then He told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Message:  The Gift of Hope                 Pastor Becky Cuddeback

This passage may not sound like hope to us, really it sounds dreadful. Dreadful in light of all that we have seen and experienced in the past two years, and in some ways, it doesn’t seem to be letting up. Injustice still rules the day, along with its companions of oppression and opposition. Where do we find hope? It is a gift of Christmas, a gift from God. We have received a partial payment of hope, a glimmer of what God has in store for us in the very gift of Jesus. But what good is a gift if we leave it wrapped and ever containing the gift God wants us to receive? That is what we will explore this Advent season, some of the gifts that fortify and shape our faith.

Today’s gift is hope.

First, I think we need to look at what Christian hope isn’t. Because we use the word carelessly. Hope isn’t finding a parking space. It isn’t having our favorite dessert on the menu. These are things we will be disappointed in, because when we really need a parking space or desire pie, we can be disappointed and true Christian hope doesn’t disappoint, because it is a manifestation of God.

Hope is looking forward with confidence to a future good. For us, this future good is the return of Jesus. We can have hope because, God saw a need for us to be reconciled and provided Jesus, the Word made flesh in Jesus’ first coming – an undisputed truth, Jesus was born, lived, was killed, and resurrected. This is the mystery of faith we confess every time we come to the communion table. In each of the events of Jesus’ life we confess, we see the hand of God upon Jesus. His birth fulfilled a promise. His ministry gave us teachings and beliefs to espouse. His death fulfilled prophesy and lead to the resurrection that teaches us that nothing separates us from God’s love for us.

What we learn, what we can base our belief and faith upon comes from this first coming of Jesus. If God moved toward us once for our salvation, God will do it again. And God has. Jesus comes to each of us and continues to come as people put their faith in Him for their living and for their eternal salvation. Every day, Jesus comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ spends eternity in prayer for us and continues to change lives. We each have testimonies of transformed lives and we have shared others’ stories of Jesus. This confirms our hope that Jesus reigns.

What we can have a sure and certain hope of is Jesus’ final return, this third coming of Jesus to complete the salvation of all of creation and created. Jesus tells us Himself, He is returning and we are to be in true hope of that. No matter what we see, no matter what we are experiencing, Jesus will return. This is the hope that transcends suffering, isolation, disease and despair. Job says it best: I know my Redeemer lives and He will stand on the earth (Job 19:25). That is the surest and certainest hope we can have and it is one of the most valuable gifts of Christmas. Open, use it and share it.

Let us pray: Lord, God, of all the things we could ask for, You have given us hope. It shapes our present and our future and the future of all of those that came before and after us. You only ask us to live faithfully in our hope and to freely share in whom we have our hope. Remind us that along with love, hope never fails, because You never fail us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Closing Hymn Go Now in Peace

Go now in peace.  Never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of ev’ry day.

Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true.  Know He will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love and show you believe.  Reach out to others so all the world can see.

God will be there watching from above.

Go now in peace, in faith, and in love. 

Benediction:  Go into this week with the blessings of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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