Monday, November 28, 2011

Liturgy for First Week of Advent 2011

First Candle: The Prophesy Candle (purple)~
Symbolizes hope and expectation.

We await all that the prophets promised would come to pass…

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs-
light, and green branches-
and we remember God’s promise to our world~

Christ, Our Light and Our Hope, will come.

Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

The people that walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
On those who lived in a land as dark as death,
A light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest.
Isaiah 9:1-2

Oh God~
Rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son!
Shine your blessings upon us.
May Christ shine on us and brighten our way by guiding us in His truth.

Voice 1: Today we celebrate the first week of advent. We remember the hope we have in Jesus.

Voice 2: The prophets of Israel all spoke of the coming of The Christ…of how a Savior would be born…that He would be a King from the line of David. They spoke of how he would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.

Voice 3: As the followers of Jesus, we await His return. We light this candle to remember that as he came to us humbly in a manger at Bethlehem and gave light to the world, so He is coming again in power to deliver His people.

Voice 4: We light this candle to remind us to be alert and to watch for His return.

~Light the Candle~

Lord, thank you for coming!
As we wait for you…
as we celebrate this Holy Season-
Let us not lose our focus.
Help us to keep our eyes on You.
Help us to see You.

O Come, O Come- Emmanuel!

~Blow Out Candle~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is Advent? A Video Tutorial

An Unusual Thanksgiving Prayer

Heavenly Father, it is the time of year when thoughts of
Thanksgiving, lights, feasting and merriment come to the fore…
But also a time in which…on the edges of our minds,
We cannot totally forget that in this world there is also
Bitterness, darkness, hunger and sadness…
We know these things are not of your powerful Kingdom…
They are of our impotent, yet harmful fiefdoms…
And though they are only temporary,
They are devastating for those who must endure them…even for a time.
It is at this time that we pray this prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name-
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
On earth…as it is in heaven…

Our Father, we stop now, mid-recitation…
And we recognize that we’ve been saying the words without paying attention

to how provocative they are…
Without fully understanding how terribly devastating

those words might be if we prayed them in truth.
Help us to remember that these words…when prayed in earnest…
Mean that we are willing to give up our own fiefdoms in favor of

Your Kingdom…

We ask that you pour your Spirit into our hearts,

so that we might be awake to the words of this prayer.
That we might be fully aware of their implications…
That we would ask of ourselves these important questions:

“What would suddenly happen

if Thy Kingdom DID come…on earth?

What would happen to the things that I stand for…

that I throw myself into and live for daily?

Would those things stand or fall

in the face of this beautiful and devastating prayer?

Help us to recognize that to pray these words…
To actually mean these powerful words…Is to pray the Lion out of His cage…
Heavenly Father, we pray in earnest for you to answer this question of our perplexed hearts…

What would happen if those of us who enjoy

abundance, privilege and of power…
What would happen if we sincerely prayed and lived this prayer:
“THY kingdom come, THY will be done…?”

And now Dear Father, we return to your prayer~

Give us…
Forgive us…
Don’t test us…
Deliver us…
For the Kingdom, Power and Glory are yours, and Yours alone…

You are omnipotent and without you,

we are completely impotent…

without you we are nothing…
For it is only Your name…Father…that makes this prayer bearable.
Because it is only in the role of a

helpless child we can even bear to approach your throne…
Knowing if we ask you for bread-

you will not disappoint us by giving us a stone,
Knowing that when we ask that your heavenly kingdom be unleashed on earth

that it will be… So very, very good…

in fact, it will be so pleasant and so full of splendor, that…
Our desire to maintain our shabby fiefdoms will be no more.
And so we pray…

those of us who sit in positions of earthly abundance and authority…
We pray in Spirit and in Truth…We come to you as small children…
And we ask You to make us the conduits of your Kingdom here on earth…

We pray: Thy Kingdom come…Thy will be done…

We pray the Lion out of His cage…AMEN!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Expecting the Unexpected

During the Advent season, we are in a state of expectation. We are waiting, longing, and looking forward to the arrival. But how that plays out over the period of a fortnight or so is as individual as it is intriguing.

The word “expecting” is an interesting one. It can be a verb: “I am expecting a package in the mail.” It can also used as a descriptor: “She is expecting.” (Similar to: “She is glowing.”)

When we link the idea of advent and expectation, what immediately comes to mind is how a pregnant Mary must have felt…what she thought…how she dreamed and planned…

We get a glimpse of that when we read her words in Luke 1:46-55~

46 And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

It is clear from these words, exclaimed in response to the angel Gabriel’s declaration that she would bear the Messiah, that she fully expected the babe in her womb to very literally overthrow the Roman occupiers of Palestine. It is- I suspect- how any one of us would have reacted…what any one of us would have imagined. But as she watched the babe grow into a young man and a then a full-grown man, we can be sure that she developed a more knowledgeable and informed understanding of her son and a broader understanding of the full scope His mission to the entire world. We can see this process clearly developing in the next chapter of Luke, where we see Mary watching her twelve-year-old son ingeniously debate with the learned religious leaders in the temple. Observing his keen spiritual insight and maturity, she “kept all these things in her mind, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) It is quite clear that her understanding and expectations of Him were being transformed. Observing what she did in the temple, she could not help but realize that God was preparing Jesus for so much more than what she had originally imagined.

And so it is with us. When we begin our walk with him, we have certain expectations of what Jesus will do, and how he will “show up” in our lives. But as our relationship with Jesus develops with time and intimacy, our expectations of how He “shows up” in our lives begins to expand and transform. We move from mere expectations of salvation, protection, and prosperity (very ‘me-centered’ expectations, if we are honest with ourselves about it) to expectations that are more Christ-centered.

An important question to ask ourselves (not only during the Advent season, might I add) is this:

“Jesus is Coming: What Do We Expect?”

Perhaps by emulating Mary’s approach, we will find our answer. Perhaps it is in the pondering.

This Advent season- I want to learn to ponder better. I want to be more responsive to what God is actually doing, and less reactive to what I think He should be doing. The gift that I pray for this Christmas is that God will fill me with His Holy Imagination, so that I will be able to see him more each day, and therefore be able to know what it is that he wants me to do. That I will be able to Imagine Beyond the Ordinary…Expect the Unexpected. I thank Him ahead of time for doing this…and more- because he is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.

And I pray the same for you-I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:18-19, The Message) Amen!

Copyright 2011. Tracy B. Dickerson©

Adventitious Thoughts...What is Advent?

You don't have to limit your understanding of Advent to a chocolate calendar, and you don't have to be 'put off' by traditions and practices that you didn't grow up learning. Whether you’re a novice or an ‘old hand’ at Celebrating Advent-Advent is for anyone who is interested in cultivating an awareness of the importance of developing a Spirituality of Waiting...Our relationship with God is hallmarked by phases of waiting- we waited for Jesus to come to Bethlehem...We wait for Him to come to us personally each day...And We wait for Him to return again to the Earth in Glory!

What is Advent?

It is the tradition of observing the four weeks preceding Christmas which was started by Christians in the Middle Ages.

The word “advent’ means…“Coming”…“Arrival”…

The Focus of the advent season is the Coming of the Christ-child…The Fulfillment of God’s promise….

The Spirit of Advent is that of …Expectation…Anticipation…Preparation…Longing…And Hope…

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas which is nearest to November 30th

Advent ends on December 24th.

An Advent Wreath is usually a circular wreath that is made with evergreens and has five candles~ four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath reminds of us God himself…His eternality…His unending mercy…He is the Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end…In Him is life everlasting…

The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in everlasting life… of renewal…of newness…His mercies are new every morning!

The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His Son.The four outer candles and the four weeks of advent represent the period of waiting between the prophets Malachi and the birth of Jesus.There are five candles…each lit on successive Sundays.There are three purple or blue candles which symbolize hope, royalty and penance.One pink or rose colored candle represents Joy…
The large white candle which is in the center is the Jesus candle- it represents Hope fulfilled…The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into our darkness.We are reminded that we have been called out of darkness into His Marvelous Light…

Prayer Before Advent: Father, today as we begin our time of preparation for the celebration of the birthday of Your Son, we ask that you prepare our hearts to receive Him. May the darkness…fear…shame…hopelessness…and sin that block us from truly knowing and worshipping You recede and the shadows fade away as His light shines in our lives…Amen.

The focus of the advent season is the Coming of the Christ-child…The fulfillment of God’s promise….

But…there is a double focus…

Past & Future…Christ has come…Though He is present in the world today through his Holy Spirit…Yet we wait for him to Come Again…

Even so, Lord Jesus~ Come!