2nd Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Natural Awe” * Isaiah 35:1-2

Image: Huie family (c)2022. Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

We Gather

To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour” – William Blake, 19th century English writer and artist

Prelude (musician) “Once to David’s Royal City”

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! Welcome to worship this 2nd Sunday of Advent. Our Advent-Christmas theme this year is “Holy Wonder.”

No matter who you are… No matter where you are on life’s journey… You are welcome here! Welcome guests.

Through Jesus Christ, we are called together as the Beloved Community. We are blessed by this sacred worship space located on unceded territory of the Lisjan-Ohlone people. We honor the past and face the future in peace with hope.

Liturgist’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (liturgist)

As Pastor Kathryn lights the Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. (pastor lights votives while musician plays)

(liturgist, after votive candles are lit and music concluded, please continue)

Today’s…

  • Flowers: Darlene Hamady in memory of Gail Lee. 
  • Worship Team: Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist Norman Chong, Advent Wreath TBD, and Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

(Advent Wreath lighters/readers come up; liturgist sits down)

Advent Wreath Reading and Candles (Advent Wreath reader/s)

On this Second Sunday of Advent, may we open to Holy Wonder hearing from mid-century environmentalist Rachel Carson:

“What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence?

Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper? I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant.

Those who dwell as scientists or laymen among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexation or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” (rc)

We light the First and Second Candles of Advent – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder.

(Light TWO Advent Candles)

Opening Hymn: “People, Look East” Chalice #142, all verses (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “Wow!” Natural wonders reveal God’s magnificence. (pastor)

We Rest in God’s Grace

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) We all have wilderness times. We humans always have. Such was the case of the Hebrew people when the Prophet Isaiah lived. God drew his attention to the desert, specifically, to the amazing plants that live and sometimes BLOOM in such a hostile growing environment.

This Second Week of Advent we follow Isaiah’s lead looking to natural wonders to find assurance of God’s power and faithfulness. May we, too, nurture hope for what is coming. May God grant us the grace to behold Holy Wonder. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician) “Greensleeves”

We Listen

Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2 (version: CEB) Isaiah speaking to his nation:

The desert and the dry land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus.
They will burst into bloom,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
They will receive the glory of Lebanon,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the Lord’s glory,
    the splendor of our God. (ceb)

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

Reflection: “Natural and Spiritual Wonders” (pastor) Finding hope in arid times – witnessing natural wonders, reconnecting with all beings, allowing Holy Wonder to move us, prepare us for God’s MORE…

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Invitation (pastor) Explain the process – all are welcome; publicly safety; elements consumed together.

Gathering All Souls (pastor) Let us gather the great, eternal communion of souls, speaking the names of those not physically present with whom we wish to share this meal… (say names internally and out loud)

Gathering All Beings (pastor) Let us also gather the great, eternal communion of all living beings, our creature siblings, asking their spirits to join us for this sacred meal… (say names internally and out loud)

Communion Hymn: “I Hunger and I Thirst” Chalice #409, all verses (musician)

Distribute Elements (Communion ushers pass out individually wrapped juice cups and crackers)

Prayer of Consecration (pastor) Magnificent, Almighty God, as we come to Your Table today, we make this request: If it pleases You, may these gifts of wheat and grape, full of Your glory, transform us and our world. Amen. (kms)

Sharing the Elements (pastor) Harvested grains and ordinary water and some natural air-born yeast create a living, nourishing thing – a loaf of bread. Harvested grapes and more of those natural air-born yeasts create a living, pleasing thing – a jug of wine.

Jesus Christ is deeply rooted to the natural wonders of this earth. He also understands that “all that is” speaks of God. The loaf, the wine – these new creations from ordinary foods – they are symbols of God’s wondrous power to transform and elevate we earthly creatures.

And so, here in this very place on earth, at this very time of the year, we join Jesus and his disciples, open to Holy Wonder, recalling…

Jesus took the loaf, (lift up bread) thanked God for it, (praise God) broke it, (break the bread) and gave it to the disciples saying:

“Take, eat. This is my body which has been given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after they had eaten, Jesus took the cup, (fill and lift) thanked God for it, (praise God) and gave it to them saying:

“Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which has been poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

On this Advent Sunday, we intentionally share this loaf with…

  • our fellow creatures who proclaim The Creator’s vast wonders;
  • all on the Advent journey to Christmas, open to Holy Wonder;
  • all beings who are hungry, sick, poor, or imprisoned;
  • those who will one day call this place home having found a community of faith.

Dear Ones, may we receive the magnificent grace of being released from all that diminishes life. May our joyful souls praise God!  (all eat and drink)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Amazing God, Parent of Jesus Christ our Friend, Savoir, and Eternal Companion, we want to live fully awake to Your wonders. Draw our attention away from what does not nurture Your Dreams for us. Grant us the curiosity, courage, and compassion to wait for Your Holy Wonders. Amen. (kms)

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

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Next Sunday: “Holy Wonder” Advent continues – with Mary!
  • Senior Center Tues December 20th (confirm date)
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services this year

Closing Hymn: “Lo, How a Rose er Blooming” Chalice #160, both verses (musician)

Benediction (pastor) A blessing from Brother David Steindl-Rast

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within.

May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow.

May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core.

May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation. (dsr)

Dear Ones, open to Holy Wonder! Go forth in peace and hope. Amen.

Postlude (musician) “O Thou Joyful”

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(CEB) Common English Bible. Copyright © 2011, Common English Bible.

(ds-r) David Steindl-Rast; line-breaks kms

(mf) Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God. ©2012. (sermon)

(rc) Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder. © 1955. Print and 31-min audiobook; line-breaks kms

(wb) William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence.” Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceded 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: November 29, 2022.

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 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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