First Sunday of Adent – November 30, 2014
(General explanation of how we order our services.)
Today begins the season of Advent, a time in which we prepare ourselves to celebrate the First Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and focus our anticipation upon his Second Coming as well.
We begin with a Word of God from Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19:
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
For the Christian, as it was for Israel, the Coming of Christ to earth means salvation and restoration!
And so we cry to the Lord, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” We then lift our hearts in a Prayer of Praise and the Greater Doxology, that song of the angels: “Gloria in excelsis deo! Gloria in excelsis deo!“
As is our annual Advent tradition, a family in our church will process as the children sing “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.” The father will light one of the advent candles and then read the Advent passage of the day, Mark 13:24-37. This tradition marks the beginning of our period of anticipation of the coming of the Lord.
As we lift our eyes to Heaven in anticipation of the coming of Christ, we recognize our unworthiness to be present at his appearing and our need for pardon from our sins. Thus we we recognize that the coming of the Lord signifies judgment of sin through the words of Isaiah 64:1-9, we ask for God’s mercy with the hymn “Kind and Merciful God,“ and both Silent and Corporate Prayer of Confession.
We hear Good News of forgiveness and pardon from 1 Corinthians 1:4-9:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For the Christian, Christ’s coming doesn’t mean judgment; it means salvation! We then respond with praise by singing “Rejoice, ye pure in heart! Rejoice, give thanks and sing!“
The Sermon of the day is from the text read during the Advent candle lighting, Mark 13:24-37, a text that calls to “stay awake” and be ready for Christ’s coming again.
We respond by singing “What if it Were Today?” and by the giving of our Offering.
We conclude the service by being sent out into the world with “The Advent of Our God,” in which we sing of our eager anticipation of Christ’s coming.