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Trinity United Church
Advent 4
December 20, 2020 Zoom Worship  

“Connection not Perfection”  



Acknowledgement of Territory
We humbly acknowledge that even as we gather digitally, we gather and live and work bon the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, Trinity United Church rests on the unceded territory of the Kwikwitlem First Nations.  
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship: 

Lighting of the Advent Wreath:        CLICK HERE for video.

It wont’ be long now…       
…Love is the theme of this day.
What does love look like?
Love looks like…
…carrying the weight of all the world’s pain and sadness, yours and mine, too.
What does love feel like?
Love feels like…
…Love feels like God.
What is it like to live in love?   

*Written by John Moses.
Found in Gathering A/C/E 2020/21 (Year B), p68-70
Used with permission  

Shepherds, where are you going? Can we go, too?
Choir: We are rushing off to Bethlehem.
The angels came and told us that a baby was born.
Not just any baby, but God’s baby, Jesus.
This baby is God’s gift of hope and peace, joy, and love for the whole wide world.
The angels will watch the sheep, but we’ve got to go. 
There is no time to waste.
We are so excited.  We are filled with joy!
We must see this child, this baby Jesus.
Yes, you can come with us, but you must hurry.
Thank you, shepherds, for your faith and your gift of love. We will join you on this Advent adventure.*

*Written by Susan Lukey
Found in Gathering A/C/E 2017/18 (Year B) p68
Used with permission    

Hymn  “Sheep Fast Asleep” VU 52
CLICK HERE for video. 

Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Holy God of Turning, we turn our backs on you.
Rather than face the light of your love and promise, we turn our backs to face our own agendas;
Rather than aim for the hope of your promise, we turn our backs to aim at less worthy goals of self-interest and gain;
Rather than following the joy and peace of your mission, we turn our backs to follow worldly pleasures and false securities and amusements.
Open our hearts, God of Holy Turning, to hear your call to repent, to turn around and to receive Your Kingdom of hope, peace, joy and love.
May we so receive your Kingdom as to be signs of that Kingdom to others
We pray in the name of God, Emmanuel. Amen.  

Hear these words of scripture:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
For God looks with favour on the lowliness of God’s servants.”
The Mighty One does great things for us.
Be at peace, God calls us to turn and receive the Kingdom of God. 
We are forgiven, we are made new. 
Thanks be to God!  


Telling our Ancient Story    CLICK HERE for video.
Who is Zechariah?
The people of Judea have been waiting for the Messiah
But God had not spoken for a long time
Zechariah went into the Temple
An angel appeared to him
How can this be?  My wife is too old!
He is struck deaf and mute
Elizabeth gets pregnant
6 months later who else gets pregnant? 
We will continue that story in a minute
When Elizabeth has the baby she names him John
Zechariah writes “That’s his name” on a tablet and is able to speak He sings a song we call the song of Zechariah  

Hymn  “She Walked in the Summer” VU 12
CLICK HERE for video.

Luke 1:26-38
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.  

Message: CLICK HERE for video.
As the Holy Night approaches,
May we join the shepherds on their watch.
May we attend to the Good News.
May we respond with rejoicing.
In the name of the one for whom we wait. Amen.  

Around 1999, or 2000, I was attending an evening Youth and Young Adult worship at what was then Ryerson United Church. It was Advent. We'd sung an Advent hymn and we could see that Mary and Joseph were on the chancel ready for some kind of dramatic expression of the word.  

When suddenly there was a loud thump in the pews beside us. Then another loud thump in the pews behind us.  We turned around to see Bari Castle, the diaconal minister of Ryerson, up in the balcony, dressed in a gown with wings and a halo, flinging cushions into the pews and shouting, "Hey, Mary! You're knocked up!"  

It is one of those "liturgical moments" I won't forget. It was outrageous, awe inspiring, and got our attention.  

Contemporary folklore has domesticated Angels. The birth story  of Jesus is so familiar that the Angels have become comfortable, affable figures. We think of angels as mild, pleasant, gentle, musical creatures with halo, harp and wings, probably sitting on a cloud and doing good deeds.  

Additionally, we have this colloquial notion of a guardian angel which is completely un-biblical. Guardian Angels have nothing to do with the Bible.  

Biblical Angels, Cherubim and Seraphs described in the Bible are  actually frightening apparitions: Wheels within wheels, covered in eyes, six wings, multiple faces of different animals, sometimes bodies of animals, flames, smoke, and lightning emanating from them, booming disembodied voices… messengers of God.  

When being visited by a Biblical Angel, you need to imagine God grabbing you by the spine and shaking you real hard. You can't ignore an angel. Angels are not "nice."  

Something about Angels also connects them to the fabric of the universe… they represent what creation is made of… they are cosmic. When Angels show up… all of creation is going to be involved, from the beginning to the end. This isn't just a message for human beings, but heaven and earth and everything contained in them is going to be dramatically altered.  

There is a reason why the first words of angels are almost always, "Don't be afraid!"  

It is because we have reason to be afraid when God sends us a messenger.  

If Bari's Angel didn't exactly shake us by the spine, it did startle us out of our comfort.  If our attention had been anywhere but on the narrative of the Advent service, it was now fully engrossed in the story. Bari had our full, undivided attention.  

The purpose of Angels in the Bible is to get our attention, and remind us of the big picture of heaven and earth, the beginning and the end.  

Luke's Gospel begins with Angels: to Zechariah, to Mary, to the Shepherds. Not once, but three times angels appear and the third time it is a multitude of angels. Luke is really trying to get our attention.  

The question is, "To what end?" Why does Luke want our attention? To what does he want us paying attention?  

In Luke's Gospel, the story of Jesus birth doesn't end with the shepherds coming to the stable. Weeks later, Jesus is presented at Temple and two people see him, prophets: Simeon and Anna, who declare that this child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel.  

Then, of course, there are two more stories about Jesus before he begins his ministry: his baptism by John the Baptizer, and the Temptation in the wilderness. Once again, we have a prophet, (John), signs and voices from heaven (the Holy Spirit, a disembodied voice), and Satan (a bad angel).  

Luke dedicates four chapters of his story about Jesus to the appearances of angels, prophets and signs from heaven calling our attention to who Jesus is before his first sermon.  

So we had better pay attention to that first sermon, Luke 4:16-19.  

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour"  

A little reminder to folks that "the year of the Lord's favour" was the Jubilee, every 50 years all financial debt would be forgiven.  

So here it is. According to Luke, God sends angels to focus our attention on:

Good news for the poor.
Release to the captives.
Recovery of sight to the blind.
Freedom for the oppressed.
Forgiveness of all financial debt.  

The day that we truly honour the heart of Luke's Gospel, heaven and earth will be changed.  

As Christmas approaches, where is your attention?  

May the angels find us on our Advent Journey.
May love accompany us to Bethlehem.
May we appreciate the companionship we find along the way.
And may we attend heart of Christ's Gospel.
In the name of the one for whom we wait.


Special Music 

Advent Reflections from Downtown Eastside
CLICK HERE for video.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
Let us join our voices with Mary,
all who are poor and oppressed.  

Eternal God, we pray for the world,
that our warring ways may be overturned, even now,
through the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ; for nothing is impossible with you.  

We pray for the mission of your church,
that we may proclaim the good news of the age
as we rejoice in the gift of our Saviour.  

We pray for all who suffer,
that we may feed the hungry and lift up the lowly
through the power of your holy and life-giving Spirit.  

We pray for your creation,
that we may safeguard its well-being
from generation to generation to your honour and glory.  

We remember before you those who have died
and pray for those who will die today,
that they may rest with you eternally
in your kingdom where there is no  end.  

Through Christ, with Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
we magnify you, almighty God,
forever, and ever. Amen.*

*Feasting on the Word liturgies for Year B vol 1, p17  

The Disciples’ Prayer “Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother: The Lord’s Prayer”
CLICK HERE for video.

* Music by Chellan Hoffman and Stephen J. Miller
Words by Parker J. Plamer
Found in Gathering Pentecost 2 2020 (year A), p 60-1
Used with permission  


Hymn: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” VU 8
CLICK HERE for video.   

Commissioning and Benediction
Do not be afraid, for God is with you and will strengthen you in your journey through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!
    We will magnify the Lord and rejoice, for nothing is impossible for God.
And the blessing of God, who creates, redeems, and restores, be with you now and always.  Amen.*

*Feasting on the Word liturgies for Year B vol 1, p18



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