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Sermon and Liturgy for Advent One - Year C
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; Luke 21:25-36
"Looking Forward in Hope"

READING:  Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; Luke 21:25-36
SERMON :  "Looking Forward in Hope"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ad01smsu.y-c 582906

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   The Childrn's Story is based on that found for this Sunday in 
   "The Whole People of God, Year B-C", 1994
   Sources: Elements of the Sermon from David Jagger, "A Season With
   Attitude", Nov. 27, 1994; elements of the Prayer of Dedication from
   John Maynard (, "Prayers and Litanies for
   Advent 1C" as sent to the PRCL List, November 26 2000

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP  (based on Psalm 50:1-5)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  The Almighty One, God the Lord, speaks.
P  He summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
L  God shines forth from Zion, the city perfect in its beauty.
P  Our God is coming, but not in silence. 
L  He calls to the heavens above and to the earth below, 
   that he may judge his people.
P  Our God is coming, but not in silence.
L  He says: "Gather to me my faithful ones, 
   you who have made covenant with me by sacrifice."
P  We gather for our God is coming.

* INTROIT: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (verse 1)                        - VU 1

VOICE  - Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent means "coming" and in
       this season we prepare for the coming of Christ.  One of the ways we
       prepare for his coming is by making an Advent wreath and lighting
       its candles to remind us of the gifts Christ brings to the world.

VOICE  - The Advent wreath includes many symbols to help us think about
       Christ and his gifts.  The wreath itself is in the shape of a
       circle.  A circle has no beginning and no end.  This reminds us that
       there is no beginning and no end to God and that God's love and
       caring are forever.

VOICE  - The light from the candles - which grows stronger each Sunday in
       Advent, reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.

VOICE  - Today we light the candle of hope.  The people of Israel hoped in
       God's promises and were not disappointed.  Again and again God
       delivered Israel from its enemies.  We too have the same experience
       of salvation.  That is why we believe in God's promise to send Jesus
       to us once again to judge the world and establish his kingdom
       forever upon the earth.   (a person lights the candle)

VOICE  - Hope is like a light shining in a dark place.  As we look at the
       light of this candle we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

VOICE  - Let us pray:  Thank you God for the hope you give us.  We ask that
       as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to
       come again, that you would remain present with us.  Help us today,
       and everyday to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will
       by sharing your hope with each other.  We ask it in the name of the
       one who was born in Bethlehem.  Amen. 

CANDLE LIGHTING SONG: Verse 1 of "A Candle Is Burning"               - VU 6

- Announcements
- Sharing Joys and Concerns
- Birthdays and Anniversaries



   O come, little children, oh, come, one and all
   To Bethlehem haste, to the manger so small,
   God's Son for a gift has been sent you this night
   To be your Redeemer, your Joy and Delight.
   He's born in a stable for you and for me.
   Draw near by the bright gleaming starlight to see,
   In swaddling clothes lying, so meek and so mild,
   And purer than angels, the heavenly child.
   Kneel down and adore him with shepherds today,
   Lift up little hands now, and praise him as they
   Rejoice that a Saviour from sin you can boast,
   And join in the song of the heavenly host.

   ---- KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK ----
   Clippety-clop went the donkey, on the way to Bethlehem.
   The donkey carried Mary - he was a big help to them.
   Mary, Mary, your Son will be born tonight!
   Joseph, Joseph, God's Son will be born tonight.
   Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, like a diamond in the sky.
   Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, like a diamond in the sky.
   Shining!  Shining!  In the sky o'er Bethlehem!
   Shining!  Shining!  In the sky o'er Bethlehem!

CHILDREN'S TIME: "Signs of The Coming"
THEME     Fulfilment and Promise
SOURCE    Self
OBJECT    Advent Wreath

Good morning.  Today we have lit the first candle of the  Advent Wreath,
and I am wearing a different coloured stole today.  What else is different
here today than last week?  What do you think that these things are about? 
Why do we have them here???

The reason they are here is because we are in a new season of the church
year and this is something we use during this season.  The season is called
Advent and it is a season of preparing and getting ready.  What do you
think we are getting ready for???

Advent means coming - and in this season we think about two things coming. 
We think about how Jesus came to be with us at a long time ago Christmas
time and how Christ is coming to be with us again.

How do you know that Christmas is coming?   (stores, carols, decorations,
TV ads, etc).  What if we didn't have any of these things?  It is hard to
imagine this time of year without all the preparations for Christmas -
without TV ads, or Santa at the mall, or Christmas cards....  would we know
that Christmas was coming????  IF YES - HOW?  IF NO - it would be very

Long ago, when Jesus was born, there were no big signs to announce that it
was going to happen.  There were no ads on the radio or TV saying "Guess
what - Jesus is going to be born next week in Bethlehem!"  When Jesus was
born, many people were surprised!  But as people told one another about it,
they remembered something God had said long before.

Many years before Jesus was born some of the prophets said that God
promised to send a Messiah, a Saviour, to be with us and to show us how to
live in God's way.  When Jesus was born, some people remembered this
promise.  They had been waiting for it to happen for a long time.  Some of
them probably said, "Aha", when they realized that Jesus was God's way of
keeping that promise.  They knew that God had kept his promise - that he
had fulfilled it 

Jesus promised to come again - and we celebrate that today - the TV and
Radio don't talk about it - but he did - and so did some of the prophets of
the early church.  We can look forward to it - just as we look forward to
Christmas day - by celebrating and preparing ourselves for that day.  

   LET US PRAY...  Dear Lord God - we thank you for keeping your
   promise - to send a son of David - to save and redeem your people -
   we thank you for Christ Jesus - born on Christmas day - and we thank
   you for the promise - that he will return to us - to make all things
   new. - Amen

THE LORD'S PRAYER (sung)  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; and lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.  Amen


   (NIV)  'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill
   the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of
   Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch
   sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the
   land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in
   safety.  This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our

L  This is the word of the Lord.
P  Thanks be to God.

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 25 (VU page 752 and Sung Response)

   (NIV)  "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth,
   nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of
   the sea. {26} Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is
   coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. {27} At
   that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and
   great glory. {28} When these things begin to take place, stand up and
   lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." {29} He
   told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. {30}
   When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that
   summer is near. {31} Even so, when you see these things happening, you
   know that the kingdom of God is near. {32} "I tell you the truth, this
   generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have
   happened. {33} Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never
   pass away. {34} "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with
   dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will
   close on you unexpectedly like a trap. {35} For it will come upon all
   those who live on the face of the whole earth. {36} Be always on the
   watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to
   happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

L  This is the gospel of our Risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

* HYMN:  "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending"                      - VU 25

SERMON: "Looking Forward In Hope"

   O Lord,  we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
   meditations of our hearts.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 
In an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip - this conversation takes place. In
the first frame Calvin speaks to Hobbes and says:   

      "Live for the moment is my motto.  You never know how long you got".

In the second frame he explains 

   "You could step into the road tomorrow and WHAM, you get hit by a
   cement truck!  Then you'd be sorry you put off your pleasures. 
   That's what I say - live for the moment."

And then he asks Hobbes:    "What's your motto?"

Hobbes replies:             "My motto is - Look down the road."

Today's scripture readings are 
about what is coming down the road towards us,
they are about the promise God has made to us,
the promise made when he said,

   "The days are coming, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the
   house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that I
   will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David, and he will
   execute righteousness in the Land."

Stop for a minute with me and think about it.

What does it mean to us now, this promise of God?  What does it mean too
when Jesus says to us that there is a day coming when the Son of Man will
come to us in a cloud with power and great glory?

What do these promises mean now in the midst of a busy life, 
a hectic life, a crazy life?
   a life where our kids expect to be driven here and there
       and ask for things that we just can't afford?
   a life where our employers expect us to work overtime,
       and our lodge, our church, and our ball or hockey team ask for hours
       we don't have?

What do these promises about the future mean when we are caught up in
trying to do all we can do right here and now in the present - what do they
man when we are struggling to live one day at a time  - when we are trying
to be all things to all to many people?

What do they mean when we watch the news or read the paper and discover
that senseless horrors continue throughout the world; that crime and
starvation and terrorism and war and earthquakes and floods abound and
indeed seen to be increasing?

To me they mean that I should rejoice
and that I should stand up and watch and pray;
   - to pray that I may be able to escape the time of tribulation
   - and to pray that I may be able to stand before The Son of Man when he

The promise of God - the promise of Christ - is that the future is not
going to be like the present.  It is that those things that I see that are 
wrong in this world, those things that I hear of that are evil - will
perish away, and that a new heaven and a new earth will come upon us - a
heaven and earth of everlasting peace and justice, joy and love.

I think that is important.

And so does Jesus.  That is why he talks about the future - that is why he
mentions the signs of this coming, how the stars and the moon and the sun
itself will appear to go off course and terror will be felt among the
nations, and fear among the peoples.

And that is why he says:

   "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."

A friend of mine back East had a horrendous week last week.  He was
expecting his wife to have a baby.  He had a million and one obligations to
take care.  He felt rushed off and his feet and distracted and unable to
appreciate what was happening around him.

He writes this about today's gospel reading - and especially about the
passage I just quoted - the passage where Jesus says, "be on guard".
   I'm caught.  The passage spoke straight to me.  It told me - Don't
   get so caught up in the worries of this life that you are unprepared
   for the return of the Master.  It told me, be alert to the bigger
   picture.  It told me - Understand your place in the greater scheme
   of things.  Be on guard. 

   And I was convicted.  I had been so caught up in waiting for this
   baby, that I have no idea what else I missed.  I was feeling sorry
   for myself, and for Debbie.  I was grumbling and hard to get along
   with.  All because of one aspect of my life.

   I had missed the excitement of my kids when their uncle, my brother,
   came to visit Thursday from Michigan.  I didn't thank God for the
   smiles and support other people were giving us as we wait.  I didn't
   watch for what else God was doing around here this past week.  There
   is so much more to life than waiting for this baby.  The baby is
   important, but it is not exclusive.  It took this passage for me to
   realise what I had done.

   And then David asked - Now how about you?  I'm curious, what one thing or
                        couple of things do you tend to be so focussed on
                        that you kind of lose your context?   

I have to answer - my work.  I can get so involved in it, so caught up in
it, spending hours before the computer, and then rushing around doing
visits and getting ready for meetings and then going to them -  that I
forget what it is that I am proclaiming - that I can miss my family's joys
and what it is God is actually doing all around me,

What about you?  Do you feel lost in today?
      - lost in the moment that is at hand 
   and the concerns that this moment brings?
Has your life been taken over by one thing or another 
      so that you can't appreciate what else is going on?  
   What else is happening?

Jesus tells us in today's gospel reading not to be distracted by the big
issues: warfare, floods, famine, creation seeming to fall apart.  But
rather to see them as signs of what is to take place.

But he is also telling us about the personal things that can be more
distracting than any civil war halfway around the planet.  

It's those personal events that are so dangerous, because they are subtle
and sneaky.  We don't realise what is happening until it is too late.  All
of a sudden we're trapped, feeling sorry for ourselves, working so hard,
being so focussed on one thing, that we miss the bigger picture.  

That's why Jesus tells us to be alert.  To watch.  To not get so caught up
in the everyday things or the big tragedies that we lose sight of the
larger scheme, that we fail to look down the road, that we fail to see the
presence of the Kingdom looming towards us with all its hope - all its

The kingdom is coming.  A righteous Branch has sprouted from David's line; 
and he will do what is just and right in the land.  He has come - and he is
returning.  We are called to be ready for him when he does, to be praying
and loving and doing the things he has commanded us to do.
   "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."
And that is the attitude of Advent.  Of being alert to what is going on
around us.  Of understanding what the signs around us are trying to tell us
and readying ourselves for the fulfilment of God's word in our midst.  Of
readying ourselves by prayer.  Of readying ourselves by having in us the
holy hope that God wants us to have.

Jesus does not tell us about the signs of the end and the coming time of
judgement to frighten us, but rather to assure us - to have us understand
that God is keeping his promise - and that the time of his rule is at hand.

He tells us about the signs of the coming of the kingdom so that we might
ready ourselves for it.

Look around.  Look down the road.  And, with your head held up high, walk
the road towards the approaching Kingdom in pray and in hope, in
righteousness and in love, knowing that as so many of promises of God were
fulfilled at the birth of Christ, so too the rest will be fulfilled - to
his praise and his glory.   Amen

Dear Lord God - help us to look down the road, to keep this present moment
with all its troubles and all its joys in context, to remember that Christ
is coming again just as surely he came at first.  Help us Lord to look
forward in hope and to live now in peace...  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord, as we enter the Season of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, let
this be a season that is more than hustle and bustle, make it more for us
than a time of buying and selling, more than a time of worrying and of
celebrating.  Make it for us a time of true blessedness, a time in which we
pray and share your love with others, a time in which we turn to your word
and speak hope to those who despair, a time in which stand with heads high
and our hands out to help others find meaning in a world gone mad...  Lord
hear our prayer...

We pray, O God, that you would move in the lives of those feel that no
light can shine in their darkness, in the hearts of those who are depressed
in mind and spirit, and in the bodies and souls of those who are sick and
suffering and alone.  Be too with those who are oppressed and afflicted
because they bear your name and with all who suffer unjustly in this
world...  Lord hear our prayer....

Strengthen too, O Lord, and bless those whom we especially hold before you
now in our hearts and lift up before you with our lips.... BIDDING PRAYER
... Lord, hear our prayer.  

All these things we have prayed, and all that we will pray, we pray to you,
O God, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, he who has died and who has
risen and who will come again - glory be to his name Amen.

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:   The Offering Is Received and as it is
presented all stand for The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings
Flow - VU #541) and the Prayer of Dedication

   God of promise, You who cause the branch of hope to bud and flower;
   we offer you the fruit of our labour and the sacrifice of our
   hearts.  May what we do bring reassurance to those seeking evidence
   of Your goodness.  Use us and our gifts as signs of what deliverance
   can mean, we ask it in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord and our
   Saviour. AMEN.

* SHARING THE PEACE: We greet those around us with a sign of peace
   (handshakes or hugs) and words like "The peace of the Lord be with
   you".  This ancient tradition is an appropriate response to the peace
   that God gives to those who hear and do his word. 

* HYMN: "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"                             - VU 2

L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

L  Loving God, in many and various ways you have visited and redeemed your
   people - finally sending to us your Son, Jesus.  We thank you Lord God
   for sending him to us: As one of us he came, at first a tender infant,
   then a child, a youth, and an adult.  He rejoiced with those who
   rejoiced, he wept with those who wept.  To the despairing he spoke a
   word of hope, to the sick he gave healing, to the rejected he was a
   friend.  And yet he was betrayed and nailed to a cross.  But you, O
   God, lifted him from the grave and restored him to life that he might
   be with us and we with him - alive - for evermore.  Therefore with all
   the saints and with the angels in heaven we praise you, saying:
P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, 
   Hosanna in the highest.
L  Eternal God, King of heaven and earth: the life and death of thy Son
   our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we proclaim; his resurrection from
   the dead and his ascension we confess; his coming in triumph we await.
P  Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus, come!

   Merciful God - as we await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
   we do as he commanded us to do - and we spread this Holy Feast before
   you - remembering how on the night that Jesus was betrayed he took the
   bread and gave you thanks, saying: "Take and eat: this is my body which
   will be broken for you."  We recall as well how, in the same way, when
   the meal was over, he took the cup, the cup of blessing, and gave it to
   his disciples, saying: "Take, drink, this is my blood, the blood of a
   new covenant, which will be shed for you and for many for the
   forgiveness of sins.  When you do this, do it in memory of me."

L  Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

L  Loving God, we pray thee to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and what we do
   here that these gifts - this bread and this wine - may be for us the
   body and the blood of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Give us the mind of
   Christ as partake of this sacrament of life and hope that we may follow
   him faithfully as we await his return in glory.  We ask it in his name.
P  Amen

THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS (coming forward up the centre aisle to one
   of the two stations and returning to your seats via the side aisles).

L  Let us pray...  We give you thanks, O Lord, for receiving us at your
P  We thank you for the life you have bestowed on us and the life that you
   have promised to us.
L  So it is that we proclaim to you our faith and our hope.
P  We are not alone, we live in God's world.  We believe in God: who has
   created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to
   reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.  We
   trust in God.  We are called to be the Church, to celebrate God's
   presence, to live with respect in creation, to love and serve others,
   to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and
   risen, our Judge and our Hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death,
   God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (verses 2-7)           - VU 1

* COMMISSIONING (unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of

Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ 
- and may God richly bless you in this time of waiting
- may the love of Christ fill your hearts with hope,
- and the Spirit sustain you and guide you day by day,
both now and forevermore.  Amen

SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                                  - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2000, 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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