You can watch a recording of today’s service here.
If you are watching our live stream this morning, you are invited to find a candle, so that we can all light candles at the same time.
CALL TO WORSHIP (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art)
One: The power of dreams lies in waking up. For when we close our eyes,
All: We can see a better world.
One: When we close our eyes,
All: We can dream a better dream.
One: But when we open our eyes,
All: We begin the work of faith.
One: The power of worship is the same. When we enter this space,
All: We can see a better world.
One: When we enter this space,
All: We dream a better dream.
One: But when we leave this space,
All: We begin the work of faith.
One: So come in. Dream your dream.
All: Find hope here.
One: For in an hour,
All: We will begin the work of faith.
One: Let it be so.
Lighting the First Advent Candle (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art)
A: I dream of sunflower fields.
B: I dream of key lime pie with a mile-high meringue.
A: I dream of the days when we could be part of a crowd.
B: I dream of snow days.
A: I dream of empty beds in jail cells.
B: I dream of a world that will let kids be kids.
A: I dream of full tables instead of empty bellies.
B: I dream of schools with enough money to teach.
A: I dream of parents with enough money to feed.
B: I dream to keep awake, because if we don’t dream of better days, then we might forget that this is not what God imagined.
A: So today we light the candle of hope, for hope is the very thing that keeps dreams afloat.
B: May this light be an invitation to keep awake.
A: May this light be our invitation to be Advent people—people who dream. Amen.
Let us pray: Faithful God, your promises stand unshaken through all generations. Renew us in hope, that we may be awake and alert as we watch for the glorious return of Jesus Christ, our judge and dreamer. In the name of God the original dreamer, Jesus the dream come true, and the Holy Spirit who enables us to be those who dream, we pray. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
We know that we have sinned before God and others, yet we also know that if we confess our sin we can be restored to a right and just standing before God and others. Let us therefore confess our sin, trusting God’s promised mercy:
Please join me in the prayer of confession, followed by a silent personal prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art)
Original Dreamer, over and over again in scripture, we hear your dream for a beautiful world. We hear your dream for peace and reconciliation. We hear your dream for harmony and togetherness. We hear your dream for community and hope. We hear your dreams, and yet we do not open our eyes. We continue to live with the curtains drawn, the covers pulled tight, eyes shut to the realities of the world. Forgive us. Kindle a hope in us that will burn through the darkest nights. Give us the strength and the will to keep awake in this sleeping world. With hope we pray, amen.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon
God’s mercy abounds. God’s grace goes before us, after us, through us — sometimes even unbeknownst to us, restoring us and empowering us for participation in God’s own work in the world. Friends, hear the good news of the gospel: we are forgiven and restored, set on right paths of justice and peace.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art)
O Great Dreamer, you dreamed up the stars in the sky. You dreamed up that magic baby smell and the way cream sinks into coffee. You dreamed up the crunch of fall leaves and jazz music. You dreamed up wisteria and evergreen and the pure magic that is a six-foot-tall sunflower. And in the midst of all of that, you dreamed up a dream for your people—a dream of hope and justice, a dream for eyes wide open, to both the world’s suffering and the world’s beauty. So today, as we read scripture, we ask that you would plant that same dream in us. Pour out your Spirit on our hearts and minds so that we may see what you see, and dream what you dream. Gratefully we pray, amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
This passage in Mark is sometimes referred to as the “Little Apocalypse.” The Greek meaning of apocalypse is “revelation”—an unfolding or unveiling of things not previously known. What in our world right now feels like a “Little Apocalypse”? What is disruptive, disorienting, and threatening? In the midst of that turmoil, what is being revealed to us?
What does it look like to live with a posture of “wakefulness”—attentive to ourselves, others, and to God?
What are the dreams we carry with us into this Advent season? What dreams from this past year have unraveled or been deferred? What new dreams must be nurtured in this season?
You can listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “Those Who Dream Keep Awake,” here.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (Roger Gench)
God of Advent, we stand at the threshold of this season, hopefully anticipating a birth in a stable in Bethlehem. We await his coming as the prince of peace and justice, the bearer of good news for all who are oppressed and the restorer of your intent for your world. As we wait on this first Sunday of Advent, help us also to ponder deeply his ultimate coming as our crucified and risen Lord to judge and to heal the brokenness of our world.
Indeed, help us to be vigilant in our waiting. Prod us to discern the commonwealth of God in our midst as it strains toward realization now. Empower us, as you empowered the psalmist, to call for your restoration of our world, our country and our lives and to participate in that work. We are like your people of old, wandering in a wilderness, longing for your glory to shine as a light in our darkness. Make your face shine in our midst once more and deliver us from all that threatens us. With the prophet Isaiah, we, too, implore you to “tear open the heavens” and come down to do “awesome deeds” in our midst — deeds of liberation for those in bondage and of hope for those in exile. Help us to recognize, with the apostle Paul, the abundance of your gifts that have been given to us for the good of the whole community — and empower us to place them in service of the common good. And may the evangelist Mark embolden us for vigilant waiting and watching so that we may leap in and participate at points where your future is crashing into our present time. Prompt us, arouse us to discern and act at those places where your love and justice are breaking forth in our lives and communities.
Indeed, during these tumultuous days of racial, political and social reckoning, help us to overcome paralyzing fear in our personal lives, in our communities and in our world. Calm the fear in us. Animate courage in us. Make us brave in confronting realities that deform and deface your world, so that we may participate in your reconciling work in our midst.
And we pray for the world of nations, especially for those places where violence is wreaking havoc upon human lives and the life of your creation. We pray for countries dealing with devastation caused by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. We pray for those in our own country who have lost jobs, revenue, healthcare and loved ones during this relentless pandemic. Help us to serve as agents of your love and care to those in our midst who are suffering. And we pray for wise discernment by our nation’s leadership as they negotiate ways in which to aid those most afflicted.
We prayer all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray saying…
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
1 O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
5 O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. [Refrain]
6 O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight. [Refrain]
7 O come, Desire of nations, bind
all peoples in one heart and mind;
bid envy, strife, and discord cease;
fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. [Refrain]
INVITATION TO OFFERING
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. God has given to us many good gifts and calls us to respond. Let us now give in return.
If you are able to, please consider mailing your offerings to the church (210 Smith Street). Alternatively, there is a link at the top of this page that will take you directly to a secure page where you can make a one-time donation. We appreciate your generosity as we seek to continue our mission and ministry throughout the community during this difficult time.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
O God, we offer our gifts to you that they may be used to further the promise of hope, peace, love and justice in our community and in our world. Empower us, O God, to follow these gifts into our community and world so that they, and we, become bearers of peace, love and justice on the earth. Amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art)
One: We believe in God.
All: We believe that God has dreams for humanity.
One: We believe in the Holy Spirit.
All: We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when our dreams turn to nightmares.
One: We believe in Jesus.
All: We believe that Jesus walked this world to wake us up, Inviting us to be the church in the world.
One: We believe in dreams.
All: We believe in the power that dreams have to show us a new way.
One: So in this Advent season,
All: We are those who dream and those who wake up. May it be so. Amen.
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION (adapted from a blessing by Sarah Are)
May you have the strength to dream
wild dreams of justice, peace, and joy that overflows.
May you have the humanity to listen to the dreams of others.
May you have the confidence to trust
that the God who heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt
hears your dreams as well.
And may you have the conviction to hold fast to your community,
for our best dreams are those we dream together.
God has been with us in every season of waiting
and God will be with us in this season, as we wait for Christ to come again.
From wherever you are, serve the Lord: Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.
VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR
If you are using this page to follow along with today’s worship service while it is being live streamed, please join us for virtual coffee hour! Turn on your video camera and join us after the benediction with this link. You could also join over the telephone by dialing (312) 626-6799 and entering the meeting code 146 874 134, followed by the password 075003.