3 Advent: Love in Action: “Gentle, Thankful Love” Philippians 4:4-7 & 3 Advent Candle Art to Color

Photo: Third Candle of Advent – Mother Mary. Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021. Worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

BCCC Worship Schedule

In-person worship services: 11am 1st and 2nd Sundays; ZOOM worship services: 2pm the other Sundays of the month; In-person Christmas Eve worship service: 2pm Dec 24th, Holy Communion

We Gather

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.”  – Mary, pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1:46b-49)

Prelude (live)

Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor)

Welcome! No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey – you are welcome here this 3rd Sunday of Advent. Our Advent theme is “Love in Action.” St Paul is teaching us about embodying Christ-Love through action. Today, we are gathered on Lisjan-Ohlone land not far from sacred shellmounds, holy places for over 5,000 years.

Advent Wreath Invocation (Advent 3 family)

St Paul advises turning to God with thanksgiving assuring us that gladness and peace will follow. Mary, Jesus’ mother, opens her heart, mind, body, and soul to God for the uplift of all beings. Her soul sings with happiness and hope!

We light the Third Candle of Advent recalling nurturing ones, like Mother Mary, who embody deep faith and gentle love. Such Love in Action inspires us to trust God and care for others. May our spirits sing as we await the rebirth of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Light the First, Second, and Third Advent Candles (Advent 3 family)

Welcoming Those Not Physically Present (pastor; musician plays while candles are lit)

Passing the Peace (all) Offer joyful gestures and words of peace: “Peace be with You.”

We Rest in God’s Grace

Special Music: (live)

Prayer and Silence (pastor)

Let us shift into silence in God’s presence with this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10.

Be still and know that I am God. (Breathe slowly)

Be still and know that I am. (Breathe slowly)

Be still and know. (Breathe slowly)

Be still. (Breathe slowly)

Be. (Breathe slowly)

(Breathe in silence) Amen.

Assurance of Grace (pastor)

Wintertime can be a lonely time, a time of noticing what isn’t any more or what hasn’t come to pass. We long for connection and inner warm. St Mary, a single young pregnant mother, and St Paul, the great evangelizer jailed for doing ministry, remind us we can always trust in God no matter what is going on. Furthermore, turning to God will produce gladness despite the challenges we face.

What is on your mind or in your heart today? Lift up these matters and persons to God believing that God will do what is God’s to do and guide us in doing what is ours to do. We are blessed.

We Listen

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7 (liturgist; version: CEB)

(St Paul, concluding his letter to the young church in Philippi, offers these words of assurance and encouragement.)

Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon “Love in Action: Gentle, Thankful Love” (pastor)

Special Music (live)

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer (pastor)

Holy God, we hold close our concerns and desires. Help us loosen our clutch on our issues that we might embrace what You embrace. We praise YOU for all you have done for us, for all people, for all creation. We shift our focus from the immediate to the eternal and thank YOU for your never-ending love and care. We are blessed, so blessed by YOU.

Prayers of the People, Silent Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

We Give

Offering of Praise “Doxology” (all; Vicky) Please mail your donations to the church or directly to Treasurer Diane Huie.

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Everyone is situated outside and has individually wrapped bread and juice.

Invitation (pastor)

Welcome to God’s Advent Party! We come to God’s Table all ages with great joy, gladness, and gratitude for this blessed ritual is a gift freely given to everyone! Today we are celebrating in yet another new way. Because of the weather, we are inside and we continue to wear masks while inside — no eating and drinking. (We’ll send you home with Communion crackers and juice to receive outside, in your cars, or at home.)

Thankfully, there is a Christian tradition of receiving Holy Communion as a spiritual feast without actually eating or drinking. Today, we honor the essential gift of Holy Communion: spiritual communion – union with God through Christ, and reunion with loved ones on earth and in heaven. This is how we will celebrate Holy Communion inside today without taking undue health risks.

Gathering Souls (pastor)

Let us speak the names of those persons, living or dead, who are not physically present but with us in spirit. (speak their names)

Scriptural Invitation (liturgist)

We worship a giving God who forever invites us to receive what is needed to nourish and heal, uplift and inspire. Today, let us listen to Jesus’ mother, Mary’s, prophetic and joyful song of praise: 

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name. God’s mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation.

God has shown strength with God’s arm; scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. God has helped servant Israel, in remembrance of God’s mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and Sarah and their descendants forever.”

Words of Institution, Prayer of Consecration, Sharing the Elements (pastor)

We join St Mary and St Paul, and all who gather in the name of Christ, to join Jesus at the Passover table with his friends.

Jesus took the bread (lift); gave it to God for blessing (pray); broke it (break); and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Likewise, after supper, Jesus took the cup of wine (lift); gave it to God for blessing (pray); and gave it to them (present); saying: “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is poured out for you and for the many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, remember me.”

Let us invite the Holy Spirit to bless the bread and cups we will consume later today: Wondrous Holy Spirit, third person of the Blessed Trinity, please enter us and these elements we will consume.

May the bread and cup be for us both comfort and blessing as we celebrate God’s good work of repairing what has been broken or cast out of balance. Amen.

Today we experience a spiritual Holy Communion together and later, a physicial one. Let us give thanks for what has been and what will be:

Prayer of Thanksgiving (pastor)

We praise You, O God, our Savior for Your care of us and all persons. Giver of dignity and blessing, healer of worries and injustices, source of food and true wealth, we remember Your faithfulness and praise You. Amen.

Carol (selection to be made; humming indoors)

Announcements, including Santa’s Helpers (invitation to receive)

Benediction (pastor)

Divine Joy defies conditions – it rises where it will rise, when it will rise. Let us be glad and grateful, compassionate and caring – and if it is God’s will, we will be joyful! Go forth in peace, Dear Ones.

The service is concluded.

3nd Advent Candle: Mother Mary ~ Love in Action: Gentle, Thankful Love

Candle Artwork: The rose is a classic symbol for Mary, Jesus’ mother. The symmetrical open hand – hamsa – an ancient Middle Eastern image of protection, is found in Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic sacred art, also signifies openness to God. The heart and leaves reflect Mother Mary’s vibrant faith.

Color image below. Cut paper. Wrap art onto glass devotional candle (8” tall, 2.25” diameter). Tape.

Reading: St Paul advises turning to God with thanksgiving assuring us that gladness and peace will follow. Mary, Jesus’ mother, opens her heart, mind, body, and soul to God for the uplift of all beings. Her soul sings with happiness and hope! We light the Third Candle of Advent recalling nurturing ones, like Mother Mary, who embody deep faith and gentle love. Such Love in Action inspires us to trust God and care for others. May our spirits sing as we await the rebirth of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Light the First, Second, and Third Advent Candles.

Reflect: Who models “Gentle, Thankful Love in Action” nurturing you?

Worship Resources:

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceeded territory of the Lisjan- Ohlone people, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: December 8, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”

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