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Trinity United Church
Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2020-21
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.
“What does it Look Like?”*
    We have come… …Hope is the theme of this day.
What does hope look like?
    Sometimes… …the people here beside us.
What does hope feel like?
    Hope feels like… …thought you couldn’t go on any longer.
What is it like to live in Hope?   [the first blue candle is lit to instrumental “Hope is a Star”]  

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

Wise Ones from the East, where are you going? Can we go, too?
We have seen an amazing star.
It shines brighter than any other star.
We are going to follow this star and see where it takes us.
We think it will lead us to a child who will soon be born, a child of God
who will change the world.
We have faith that God will show us the way.
We have great hope that our quest will be successful.
And, yes, you can come with us.
Thank you, Wise Ones, for your faith and your gift of hope.
We will join you on this Advent adventure.  

*Written by Susan Lukey.
Found in Gathering A/C/E 2017/18 (Year B), p68-69.
Used with permission.  

Hymn  “As a Fire Is Meant for Burning” VU 578
CLICK HERE for video.

Prayer of Reconciliation and Words of Assurance
Merciful God, we confess that we become distracted, even weary, in
    our discipleship.
We keep very busy schedules; we rush about.
Captivated by technology, seduced by the lure of consumer goods,
    we do not remain alert to your divine presence in our lives, in the
    church, in the world.
Make us better doorkeepers of our lives, watching for you
Awaken us to your surprising power and glory and peace, so we do
    not miss how near you are to our very own gates.
Be gracious toward us, we pray, until we are gathered, from the ends
    of the earth to the ends of heaven, into your embrace.
We pray in the name of Christ, who was, and is, and is to come. 

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year B, Vol 1, p2 ff  

God’s face shines on us and gives us peace.
God’s hand rest on us in a sign of blessing.
God will not forsake us.
God calls us each by name and gives us life.
Be assured that we are forgiven and made new.  Thanks be to God!*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year B, Vol 1, p2 ff  


Telling our Ancient Story: CLICK HERE for video
“Tear Open the Heavens and Come Down!”
"O that you would tear open the heavens
    and come down
So that the mountains would quake
    at your presence!"  

God had fulfilled God's promise.   

God had brought the people out of slavery in Egypt, protected them, lead them through the wilderness, gave them a law and the Promised Land.  

And for many, many years the people of Israel prospered, they became a great and powerful Kingdom.  They built a great City, called Jerusalem and in it a huge Temple to God.  

And God promised to be with the people forever and ever and that there would always be a king in Israel.  

But the people forgot about God.  They stopped following God's laws.  They became proud of their own accomplishments.    They neglected the poor.  They didn't share their wealth.  They treated strangers with hatred instead of compassion.  

Isaiah was a prophet.  A prophet is a wise person who talked to God and remembered the stories of Moses.  Isaiah was sad and angry when he saw what was happening to Israel.  Isaiah wanted the people to remember the stories of God and Moses, when God spoke on the mountain to Moses and the mountain shook.  So Isaiah prayed:  

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down
So that the mountains would quake at your presence!"  

Eventually, a big army came along and conquered the city of Jerusalem, pulled down its walls, destroyed its temple and took the people into exile.  

And Isaiah wept to see the City and Temple destroyed.  So Isaiah prayed:  

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down
So that the mountains would quake at your presence!"  

The people were dragged away to a strange land that was not their home, to a strange river through which strange waters ran and made to live in a strange city.  The people of Israel were far from home.  So Isaiah prayed:  

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down
So that the mountains would quake at your presence!"  

The Ruler of this strange city was harsh and cruel, much like the Pharaoh of Egypt in the stories of Moses!  The people of Israel were not allowed to worship and were made to work every day of the week.  They were forced to work very hard for their new masters.  So Isaiah prayed:  

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down
So that the mountains would quake at your presence!"  

And so Isaiah and the people waited.  They waited and prayed for God to open the heavens and come down, so that they would know God's presence among them again.  

Hymn “My Soul Cries Out” MV 120
CLICK HERE for video

Mark 13:24-37 24
    “But in those days, after that suffering,
    the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light,
    25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  

Message:     CLICK HERE for video.
 In this Advent Season,
in this season of hope,
in this season when mountain are quaking
and heavens are shaking,
may God so fill us with the Spirit glad tidings,
that we might be beacons of hope. Amen.  

I have to wonder if people who have lived largely comfortable lives can really understand what it is to want change so badly that they would pray for God to "tear open the heavens and come down so that the mountains quake at God's presence"?  

That is quite a prayer from Isaiah. "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down so that the mountains quake at your presence." Isaiah is praying for things to be seriously shaken up!  

Isaiah is praying for this kind of shaking up because life for his people is so bad.  

Do we, in our relative comfort, have the capacity of imagination, to identify with Jesus' followers who prayed for the sun to darken, the moon to cease giving its light, for the stars to fall from heaven and for the powers in the heavens to be shaken, so that the Son of Man would come with great power?  

That's a lot to hold in expectation. Jesus' followers are waiting in expectation of mountain quaking, heaven shaking change.  

I have to wonder if we, comfortable people, are even able to empathize with people who are so downtrodden, that they desperately want all of creation to be shaken violently to its core, so that a new heaven and a new earth can be created?  

The answer to my rhetorical questions, to my wonderings, is "Yes." I do believe we have the capacity of imagination and empathy to understand that kind of deep desire for change. But we would rather ignore it.  

We would rather ignore it, because those feelings, those desires are scary and dangerous. The fulfilment of those desires means going places we have never been before. It could be that the fulfilment of those desires means an end to our comfort and privilege.  

But this is what God wants for us.  

God wants a new heaven and a new earth for us.  

I wonder, who, among our neighbours might be desperate for that kind of change. Which of our neighbours is desperate for mountain quaking, heaven shaking transformation?  

I don't think we need to look very far these days. Just turn on the news.  

Covid did not create racism
Covid did not create addiction or the opioid crisis
Covid did not create the housing crisis
Covid did not create gender inequality
Covid did not create wealth disparity
Covid did not create colonialism
Covid is a consequence, not a cause, of climate change  

God does not want us to go back to the way things were before Covid.
God wants us to participate in a New Heaven and a New Earth.

God wants a New Heaven and a New Earth for us as a planet.
God wants that for us as a country.
God wants that for us as a province.
God wants that for us as a community of faith.
God wants that for us as individuals, a new heaven and a new earth.  

So… I wonder, what do we do as the mountains are quaking and the heavens are shaking.  

First, we remember who we are. A couple weeks ago, Paul informed us that we are destined for salvation. Which is to say we are destined by God for a New Heaven and a New Earth.  

Whether we are ready or not, the reign of God will come. Ready or not, Christmas morning finds us.  

Jesus tells us to "beware, keep alert," and "keep awake." We don’t' know when, but it will come, and it might catch us in our pajamas.

A couple weeks ago, Ross Shearer and I participate in Evolve, the regional Youth and Young Adult retreat, online edition. The theme of Evolve was "Participating in Hope." and one of the theme speakers shared that Hope isn't a thing to have, or to feel, rather hope is a series of choices we make.  

Hope is a series of choices we make.  

Hope is choosing to participate in the New Heaven and the New Earth, rather than the old ones.  

Hope is choosing to discern with compassion.
Hope is choosing to judge with empathy.
Hope is choosing to act with justice.
Hope is a daily practice.  

As the mountains are quaking and the heavens are shaking, we are still called to do what we have always done: to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly.  

During this season of Advent,
during this season of Covid,
during this season of quaking mountains and shaking heavens
may we make choices, again and again,
that participate in God's coming reign. Amen…..  


Special Music

Advent Reflection from the Downtown Eastside: 
First United has provided us some reflections on the themes of Advent.
They asked Herb Miller, one of the members of their community who has only recently found housing, to tell us what the themes of Advent, “Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love” mean to him. Then one of the staff from First United share their thoughts and a prayer. So today, we share the link to First United: Sunday of Hope.
CLICK HERE for video.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and intercession
As heralds of God’s good tidings, let us lift up our voices with strength this day praying to the One who comforts, restores, and heals.
Let us pray for all leaders and people of the world.
You have created one human family to live in righteousness and peace.
Give us the wisdom to order our common life according to your loving purposes, that your glory may be revealed and all people shall see it together.  

Let us pray for your church.  
You have given us the gift of the Messiah so that your church may be steadfast and true.
Give us strength to follow your child until all have come to reconciliation by your love.  

Let us pray for those who are sick, who suffer need, who are exiled or in danger.
You have made us for a holy purpose, to comfort and care for each other.
Give us compassion to love our neighbour and patience to care for those in need.  

Let us pray for your creation.
Your faithfulness springs up from the ground, and your goodness looks down from the sky.
Rid us of the laziness and greed that diminish life as you teach us to care for your creation together.  

Let us remember those who have died.
Every-living God, one day in your presence is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
Make us one with the saints, who have found their eternal home in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year B, Vol 1, p2 ff.  

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

* 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  “Joy Shall Come” (x3) VU 23
CLICK HERE for video. 

Commissioning and Benediction
The day of the Lord is coming;
    therefore we will strive to live in peace,
    for God’s salvation is near.  

May faithfulness spring up from the ground and righteousness look
    down from heaven as you walk the way of peace,
And may the blessing of God, Eternal Majesty, Living Word, and Holy Comforter, be with you now and always.*

*Feasting on the Word: Liturgies for Year B, Vol 1, p2 ff



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