Our Advent worship series is entitled “Close to Home.” When something hits close to home, it affects us deeply. During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we journey through Scriptures and rituals that are tender, heavy with emotion, and vulnerable. We carry the memories and truths of this season close to our hearts. Close to Home acknowledges the “already but not yet” tension of our faith: Emmanuel is with us, and yet, God’s promised day—our everlasting home—is not fully realized. It names our deep longing for God to come close to us. Close to Home also names the pain many of us will carry into this season. The holidays can poke at our grief. Many will be missing loved ones lost to sickness and tragedy. The traumas of the pandemic will still be with many of us. Today’s worship theme is HOPE. It will speak to our deep longing: for our home to be made whole, made right, and made well. Thankfully, God enters a homesick world.
Welcome and Announcements
Prelude – “Lift Up Your Heads” – Arr. by David Paxton
*Call to Worship
- L: Can one be homesick for something they’ve never known?
- P: We are homesick for a just world, for peace that “flows” like rivers, and for the end of suffering.
- L: Yes, we are homesick—
- P: for joy that is contagious, for nations that feel like neighbors, and for hospitals that run empty.
- L: We are homesick for the world God promises.
- P: We are homesick, but we are on our way.
- L: God is here. God is still creating.
- P: Let us worship Holy God.
*Hymn – “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates” – UMH #213
- Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
behold, the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near;
the Savior of the world is here!
- Fling wide the portals of your heart;
make it a temple, set apart
from earthly use for heaven’s employ,
adorned with prayer and love and joy.
- Redeemer, come, with us abide;
our hearts to thee we open wide;
let us thy inner presence feel;
thy grace and love in us reveal.
- Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
until our glorious goal is won;
eternal praise, eternal fame
be offered, Savior, to thy name!
Lighting the Advent Candle – Jim and Deb Biskner
The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with
the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up a
righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. In
those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he
will be called: The LORD Is Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
Musical Response – “Come, O Redeemer, Come” – W&S #3046
Come, O Redeemer, come; grant us mercy.
Come, O Redeemer, come; grant us peace.
- Father, enthroned on high, holy, holy!
Ancient eternal Light, hear our prayer. (Refrain)
- Lord, save us from the dark of our striving,
faithless and troubled hearts, weighed down. (Refrain)
- Look now upon our need; Lord, be with us.
Heal us and make us free from our sin. (Refrain)
Time with the Children
Anthem – “Come, Emmanuel” – Don Besig
Scripture Readings – 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
9How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.
25“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, there will be dismay among nations in their confusion over the roaring of the sea and surging waves. 26The planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken, causing people to faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. 27Then they will see the Human One coming on a cloud with power and great splendor. 28Now when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is near.”
29Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. 32I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
34“Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. 36Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.”
- L: The word of God; the word of Life.
- P: Thanks be to God.
*Hymn – “God Almighty, We Are Waiting” – W&S #3047
- God Almighty, we are waiting for a Savior to appear.
Meet us in our desert journey; give a sign that you are near:
burning bushes, parted waters, food aplenty in the wild.
As we look for signs and wonders, help us see you in a child.
- God Incarnate, we are waiting for the feast day of your birth.
Looking back and looking forward to the Christ’s return to earth.
Help us to proclaim the gospel, ’til the world is reconciled.
Let us set your holy table for each woman, man, and child.
- God, the Spirit, we are waiting for your presence here and now.
Humbled by our sinful weakness, at your mercy we will bow.
Search our hearts and make us ready, speak in language strong and mild,
help each one of us, your people, to receive you like a child.
Message – “Homesick”
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
Invitation to Give & Prayer of Dedication
Offertory – “O Come to Us, Emmanuel” – Joseph Martin
*Closing Carol – “See Fig Leaves Now Sprouting” – (Tune: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming)
- See fig tree leaves now sprouting, soon summer comes again.
Creation groans in labor for God’s reign to begin.
We wait with bated breath, homesick for God’s true Kingdom,
age without hate or death.
- Sun, moon, and stars above us speak of God’s promised day.
To make space for our new home, this world must pass away.
When we are filled with dread, the words of Christ uphold us:
“Arise and raise your head!”
Helping Lead Todays Worship
- Liturgist: Rev. Grace Sult
- Organ/Piano: Kathy Cay
- Rev. Elisabeth Danielsons, Deacon
- Rev. Drew Hart
Lyrics to Special Music
Come, Emmanuel, we’re waitin’ for you. We long to know the story is true that God will send to earth a Son; and the whole wide world is waitin’ for You to come. Come, Emmanuel, come. Come Emmanuel, come Emmanuel, the time is at hand to spread the news all over the land, that You will come to set us free, and the whole wide world is waitin’, waitin’ to see. Some are waitin’ for a mighty King with crimson robes and golden rings to rule with a strong and pow’rful hand, but that is not the Father’s plan. Come, Emmanuel, , the moment is near for all to see and all to hear that faith and hope are born anew; and the whole wide world is waitin’, waitin’ for you. And you will come as a tiny child, poor and humble, meek and mild, to live in faith and teach of love, to serve on earth and reign above! Come, Emmanuel, we’re waitin’ for you. We long to know the story is true that God will send to earth a Son; and the whole wide world is waitin’. Come, Emmanuel, come. Come.
O Come to Us, Emmanuel
O Come to us, Emmanuel, deliver us we pray. Lord, come to us, abide with us, restore our joy today. Lord, come walk beside us, come lead, teach and guide us. Shine in our shadows and show us the way. O come to us, Emmanuel, deliver us we pray. O come to us, Emmanuel, restore our joy today. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to us and ransom Israel. O come to us, Emmanuel, and make us one in love. By your strong hand, Lord, heal our land with grace from above. Bring peace for our sorrows, hope for tomorrow. Shine in our shadows and bring a new day. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to us and ransom Israel. O come, O come, Emmanuel.