Advent 3 – Joy

The prophet Isaiah speaks
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

We lit the first candle for the seeds of hope,
planted for the renewal of all creation

We lit the second candle for the green shaded
path of peace that we walk with Jesus.

We light this third candle for joy.
God of joyful and glorious abundance
open our ears and eyes to delight and gladness.

Take the wilderness of ignorance and greed
that seeks to destroy all that is good and
help us to spread joy like carpets of crocus
as we work with you to transform the world.

Saide Cameron, offered for worship by Colleen, Brad, Sam and Hudson Coath, 15/12/19, Advent 2A

Prayers of Adoration & Confession

Isaiah 35 is rich with imagery, and so today our prayers of adoration and confession will be largely visual. I invite you to join me in prayer and look and reflect. We will sing the Advent prayer Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, after each image. (See the accompanying slides here.)

Let us pray:

Isaiah prophesies that the desert shall rejoice and blossom.
– What do we see springing up around us? (Silence)
– Where do we see new life? (Silence)’

God of majesty,
Forgive us when we do not recognize new possibilities, when we do not encourage living things and ideas to grow.

Isaiah tells us that the waters will break through the wilderness.
– Where do we see life giving water appearing unexpectedly? (Silence)
– Where do we see transformation? (Silence)

Lord of life,
Forgive us when we see things only as they are, and not how they could be, when we do not see how things can change.

Isaiah speaks of creating a highway, a Holy Way through the wilderness for God’s people.
– Where do we see new ways being created, in our world, and right here in our communities? (Silence)
– What is the wilderness of our time? (Silence)

Spirit of renewal,
Forgive us when we do not seek new paths and approaches that will help us find a way through the wilderness.

God of majesty,
Lord of life,
Spirit of renewal,
In you all is possible,
things can change,
and all can be made new.
And so we can say in confidence:
Our sin is are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

Kirsty Bennett, offered for worship 15/12/19, Advent 2A

Prayers of the people

Each week during Advent we will be offering prayers for one of the places being supported by the Christmas Bowl this year.

Finding joy in resilience
Is it possible to be joyful when the natural disasters that batter your island home become more destructive with every year? Your Christmas Bowl gifts help the vulnerable people of Tonga to stay safe through worsening disasters. People like ‘Asena, who has found great joy in protecting her family and caring for her neighbours.

‘Asena is a trainer in disaster risk reduction and preparedness with Act for Peace’s local partner. She travels to communities across the island, teaching people how to survive during a calamity.

When Tropical Cyclone Gita hit Tonga last year, it flattened churches, levelled crops and collapsed power lines. But ‘Asena’s work in disaster preparedness helped many families, including her own, to survive the devastation.

This year the Christmas Bowl helps more families in Tonga to stay resilient, and brings them the joy of knowing they can protect their family and community during the times of greatest need.

Prayers of the People
You are the Lord of our song, our dance and the life that we are living. You have named us, and called us together to worship, to learn and to be renewed by your spirit.  Open our eyes to see the movement of that spirit through this troubled world. To see your hope, peace and joy.

We pray for hope.
Hope as a dangerous thing. Hope as a catalyst for change and renewal in the face of war, disaster, anger, populist politics, climate change, and extremism of all kinds. Hope for the hopeless, the prisoners, the exploited, those who are angry, sick or alone. And hope that we are willing share the abundance and wealth we take for granted with a world crying out in need.
Open our eyes to see the seeds of your hope growing in the world.

We pray for Peace
For peace as the absence of war and turmoil, for the ending of conflicts, greed, and oppression which terrorise and destroy people and the earth. But more for the inner peace which knowing you can bring. Peace which gives us the courage to speak out and fight injustice, in politics, at work, at home and in our churches. Your peace that revolutionises our lives and opens our eyes to see you moving through the world.

We pray for Joy
May we know your joy.
May we give joy, live it, and pass it on to everyone we meet. Open our eyes so we recognise it in unexpected places and faces and feel it as it blossoms in our lives. For Joy is what you gave to the world and what you keep on giving.

This Advent we pray that the world will hear the cry of the baby, born in stable and not just the sound of jingle bells. Open hearts and minds, that we receive your gifts so freely given.

We pray this in the name of Jesus, the baby in the manger. The source of our hope, peace and joy.  Amen

Helen Burnham, offered for worship 15/12/19, Advent 2A