Worship for Advent 1
November 29, 2020
Service of the Word
Praying for Palestinian Christians
 
We open our worship in the name of God the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Amen.
 
Prayer of the Day 
 
On this first day of Advent and the first day of the new church year, O God, we look forward. We expect. We anticipate. We hope. We expect Christmas and we hope for your second coming and the renewal of all things in the new creation. In this mood of hope for renewal, O God of grace, we lift up before you the plight of our brothers and sisters in Israel and Palestine. Shed an extra measure of your liberating grace on Palestinian Christians now incarcerated by marginalization and political repression. Let these people of faith know that we and others around the world remember them, love them, and pull for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Old Testament: Isaiah 64:1-9 – Pat Anderson
 
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
  so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
  and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
  so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
  you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
  no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
  who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
  those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
  Because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
  and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
  and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
  or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
  and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father;
  we are the clay, and you are our potter;
  we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
  and do not remember iniquity forever.
  Now consider, we are all your people.
 
Word of God. Word of Life.
 
Psalm 80: Prayer for Israel’s Restoration—Jake Dapiran
 
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
  you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
  before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
  and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
  let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
  how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
  and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
  our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
  let your face shine, that we may be saved.
 
Word of God. Word of Life.
 
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 – Declan Perkett
 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of  every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Word of God. Word of Life.
 
Gospel: Mark 13:24-37 The Coming of the Son of Man
 
‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,
  and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
  and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and
glory. Then 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.
 
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
 
‘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. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
 
The Necessity for Watchfulness
 
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It 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. Therefore, 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, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
 
Sermon
 
In this little apocalypse of Mark 13, Jesus announced to his disciples: Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then 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. We are stirred by this promise of triumph, power, victory.
 
But, this is not what happened. Instead of power coming on the clouds, what Jesus’ family and friends witnessed was a crucifixion. Instead of triumph, Jesus surrendered to death. Instead of victory, Jesus suffered defeat. With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm God had rescued the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, but when it comes to God’s only begotten Son he seems to be absent.
 
Our sisters and brothers living in Palestine feel God might be absent. Their biblical ancestors suffered invasion from the Babylonians and Persians. Their post-biblical ancestors suffered from Islamic conquerors and crusader plundering. Since 1948, they have cringed under the yoke of the modern state of Israel. Palestinian Arab Christians fear there is no deliverer on the way to liberate them.
 
Yet, our sisters and brothers in Palestine can make a unique claim. It was in their midst that God deigned to become incarnate. It was in their land that God blessed the entire world. God has revealed the divine self among the losers, the defeated, the hopeless. In this revelation, God is trying to communicate something.
 
Mitri Raheb, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, yearns to be delivered from the occupation of  Bethlehem by those other people of the Bible, the Israelis. It’s complicated. Yet, mysteriously, the God of power is revealed in weakness.
 
Palestine was the unexpected place for God to reveal himself. The cross became the symbol for Palestinian identity. The ultimate revelation on the cross shows that there is no place on earth, in history, in one’s own life where God cannot reveal himself. He is there where no one expects him, there even when we do not count on him, there when hope seems lost forever. The good news proclaimed on the cross was and is this: Expect God in the most unexpected places.
 [https://www.mitriraheb.org/en/article/1487339798]
 
Martin Luther called this the “Theology of the Cross.”  The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness....it does [a theologian] no good to recognize God in his glory and  majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross....’Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself’ (Isa. 45:15). 
 
So, where does this leave us? First, we in California should keep in our minds and on our hearts our sisters and brothers in Christ everywhere in the world, especially in in the town of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem. Second, we at Cross and Crown should keep in our prayers those peoples of the world who yearn for liberation, for freedom and self-direction. Third, we in Rohnert Park should keep alive our hope for peace—peace for Jews, Muslims, and Christians--where the Prince of Peace was born, Israel and Palestine.
 
Prayers of Intercession
 
Longing for Christ’s reign to come among us, we pray for the outpouring of God’s power on the church, the world and all in need….
Holy God, rouse us to deep praise as we gather for worship. Enliven our worship with sincere and heartfelt music and prayer and meditation.

O Holy Spirit, you inspire the artists among us: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
 
We come to you O God of resurrection with feet stuck in the world of the cross. Around us and among us people are dying by the tens of thousands, victims of the rampant Covid 19 disease. Like a horse from the Apocalypse, the plague marches through our community without regard to whom it brings grief. As you brought refuge and strength to the Psalmist, bring us a portion of that strength here and now.
 
O God, you are our sword and our shield: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
 
Sun and wind, bushes and worms, cattle and great cities—nothing in creation is outside your concern, mighty God. In your mercy, tend to it all. Give us a spirit of generosity toward all you have made. 
 
O God, you are our rainbow of promise: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
 
We pray, O God, for peace and justice in the world: for a full embrace of racial equality and compassion; for the liberation of the Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim; for concord during this time of political rivalry and unrest in the United States; for the heads of state, legislators, and local civic leaders, that they enact wise procedures to lead us into a healthy and prosperous future.
 
O God, you are our Mighty Fortress: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
 
We pray, O God, for all in need:
for those suffering for the faith;
for those who are poor, hungry, and homeless;
for those who are sick and those awaiting death;
and for those in the Cross and Crown family...
 
·Healing
·Paula’s (Fred A.'s sister)
·Johnita (Deborah Mc’s friend)
·Steven (Carol C.’s cousin)    
·Linda (Joanne B’s friend)  
     
·Long-Term Healing
·Joanne (Kim B.’ friend)
·Carole B.
·Chris (Mandy’s BIL)
·Chris (Diane C’s son)              
·Roger (Michelle S’ friend)        
·Sawyer (Michelle S’ friend)
·Ed F. (Vicki B’s father)  
·Gabe B.
·Mark (Curtis S’s friend)
·Kendra (Deborah M’s niece)
 
·Homebound Members
·Robert and Leona A.            
·Dick and Dorothy N.            
·Ruth M.
·Pastor Leon H.              
·Beverly L.                               
·Ginny C.
 
O God, you are the Healer of our every ill: in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
 
Receive our thanks for all who died in the faith and bring us at the final resurrection into your everlasting life, where sorrows will be no more. Into your gracious and mighty hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Amen
 
Lord’s Prayer
 
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.
Amen.
 
Benediction
 
Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us now and forever.
Amen.
 
 
 
 
Footnotes: 
[1]Omar Haramy, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology
Center
Tel : + 97225327136 Fax : +97225327137

Mob: 0526822442 / 0568112010

Email: world@sabeel.org

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[ii]
Martin Luther, “Heidelberg Disputation” in
Luther’s Works, American
Edition, Vols. 1-30, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia
Publishing Company, 1955-1967); Vols. 31-55, edited by Helmut T. Lehmann
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1955-1986) 31:52-53.