We come, celebrating the joy of worshipping God in our own sacred space.
A Call to Worship
Advent 1A 2016
God of all glory - “In the presence of your people I will praise your name…”1
We come, rejoicing that together we can freely and openly worship our God.
“...for alone you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel…1 Hallelujah!
We come, with delight and jubilation to offer our thanks and praises for God’s
faithfulness, goodness and mercy; and to pray for all who gather to praise God.
“...Let us celebrate your goodness, and your steadfast love. May your name be
exalted here on earth and in heaven above.1 Praises, glory and honour to God! Amen.
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
A psalm of David.
1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 And now here we are, standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is a well-built city; its seamless walls cannot be breached.
4 All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people— make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord, as the law requires of Israel.
5 Here stand the thrones where judgement is given,
the thrones of the dynasty of David.
6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper.
7 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “May you have peace.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
Prayers of Thankfulness
Wonderful and Welcoming God, we gather here in our own special place where
Advent 1A 2016
we worship our God - where together we can share our acts of worship and praise.
“In the presence of your people I will praise your name…”1 Today is an opportunity
for personal private prayer and praise; but it also provides the wonderful privilege
of shared prayers and praises. So we gather in sincere gratitude to honour the God
who gifts us all; and provides so many wonderful blessings to us each day and night.
However humble or magnificent is the building which we honour as the “house of
the LORD”; it is where we come as God’s children to offer our thanks and praises
for God’s gracious care; and so, we are glad to gather together in the God’s house.
We come, rejoicing that together we can freely and openly worship our God, even
as we acknowledge that there are many people who do not have this privilege and
blessing. Today, we pray especially for them, that in their lack of shared worship—
that they still are able to worship God, if necessary in secret, offering their prayers of
praise and thankfulness for their knowledge of and love of their God; and for God’s
gracious and merciful love of them as faithful individuals in difficult circumstances.
Today we come, with joyous delight to offer our thanks and praises for God’s mercy,
God’s goodness, faithfulness and God’s acceptance of us as God’s own children.
“...Let us celebrate your goodness, and your steadfast love. May your name be exalted
here on earth and in heaven above.1 We give thanks for all God’s holy, love-inspired
blessings; for the wonderful privilege of knowing we are forgiven by God; and that we
can offer forgiveness to others; and for the especially generous gifts from God that has
taught us to trust other people. We pray that we may share these blessings of love,
forgiveness and trust amongst all with whom we meet, but especially in our worship;
and we ask that God will guide and help us in our shared life of worship and praises. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
In the wonderful website Textweek - or to give it its full title The Text This Week,
Advent 1A 2016
there are many inspiring contributors; and one website that I use each week is the
Lutheran site http://www.workingpreacher.org Rev Dr David J Lose is one of its
regular contributors and he recently wrote that attending worship is like someone
having cataract surgery. He wrote words something like these: when we are busy
in the world and community around us, our vision is often clouded by the traumas of
life that daily surrounds us. When we gather to worship God in a sharing and accepting
environment, the cloudiness over our eyes is lifted away, and we can truly focus on
God again, and through the songs, Bible readings, prayers and sermon have our eyes
opened to see and understand that we live in God’s world; and that we see again with
clarity, our neighbour and ourselves through God’s eyes of love. It is when we gather
regularly to worship God, that the eyes of our heart and mind our opened up as if via
cataract surgery, which brings healing and new insights; and so we give thanks to God.
|Creative pause:||Regular shared worship of God is like having cataract surgery!|
The pilgrims joined with the psalmist as they sang: “I was glad when they said to me,
let us go to the house of the LORD...They come to give thanks to the name of the LORD”
I have always felt that the words: “I was glad...” were rather weak, and yet only four of
the translations I looked at had anything different: The Message wrote: “I leaped for joy”2
and three others used the word “rejoiced” as in “I rejoiced with those who said to me...”,
Professor Walter Brueggemann wrote about this thus: “This psalm is a reflection on the
wonder of Jerusalem – city, monarchy, Temple - which became and remained a focal
point of Israel’s image. It is of defining importance that the name Jerusalem has within
it the term “shalom”, so that the city can be imagined as a seat of shalom, a gift of God
to Israel and eventually a gift of God to all nations...”3 and so we give thanks to God.
|Creative pause:||Jerusalem “...as a seat of shalom, a gift of God to Israel
a gift of God to all nations...”3
Our shared worship of God in our usual sacred space is primarily to give our thanks
to God for the new insights from our past and present blessings, and the forgiveness
and healing with which God has gifted us, that will guide us through the intervening
days before we meet again to share in the worship of God. We come to be restored
and renewed; and to be invited and challenged to participate in the world where we will
eventually be sent into – with God’s blessing. It is common to commence our worship
with the Greeting/Prayer: “The Lord be with you!” and the responsive prayer: “And also
with you!” In many traditions it is also customary to share the ancient traditional greeting
of “Sharing the peace of the Lord” with our congregational members and clergy. With all
these blessings, praises, prayers and teaching; and with God’s grace and mercy, we will
go out with thankfulness and a renewed vision, to live as God’s own people in the world.
|Creative pause:||“In the presence of your people… let us celebrate your goodness...”1|
1 “Together in Song” #727
Words by Brent Chambers
©1977 Scripture in Song
Used By Permission
CCL Licence #221735
2 The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995,
1996, 2000, 2001, 2002
by Eugene H. Peterson
3 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann & William H Bellinger Junior
from “Psalms” Psalm , page 528
© 2014 Cambridge University Press
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).
I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the scholarship and writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.
Download/view a pdf file of this document here: advent1a_2016.pdf