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Advent 2013

HOLY MARGINS: BIRTHING THE HOLY

God Comes to the Margins of a Brutal Empire
to a Poor, Unwed Jewish Woman

Scripture Commentary and Sample Worship Outlines
by Rev. Dr. Sally Harris
Co-Chair, Affirm United/S'affirmer ensemble

ADVENT I - DECEMBER 1st
FROM THE MARGINS, THE HOLY IS BORN

Scripture Commentary

  • Micah 5: 2-5a — From the margins of society comes hope
  • The gospel writers understood the hope proclaimed of Bethlehem - and so we hear that from this little town will come forth one who will never be forgotten. We hear again words offering light and hope to the world.

  • Romans 12: 1-18 — From the margins of our world comes transformation
  • Paul the author of this letter to the church in Rome writes poetically of what it means to be part of God's people. We are not to conform to shape of the world and its way of thinking rather we are to present our whole being to God as our true worship so that we may be transformed in hope.

  • Matthew 1: 1-17 — From in the margins of history the holy is born
  • Raymond Brown suggests that every Advent the church needs to read this text, reminding us that it was ordinary people that continue to bring in the generational presence of God. In this genealogy something breaks open from the usual lineage being passed through the fathers in orderly progression. Here in these verses four female ancestors are listed by name dramatically shifting the paternity pattern. As Elizabeth Johnson notes: "These women found themselves at some point outside the patriarchal family structure, and consequently in danger." Here on the margins of history, four women existing independently from the traditional domestic arrangements (widowed, unmarried, a prostitute or separated from a spouse) are named as part of the lineage of Jesus. Women on the margins (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba) birth the holy.

Resources

  • Raymond Brown's The Birth of the Messiah
  • Elizabeth Johnson's Truly Our Sister
  • Elaine Wainwright's Shall We Look for Another? A Feminist Rereading of the Matthean Jesus

Sample Worship Outline

Advent 2013: Holy Margins - Birthing the Holy

Advent "is always a sub-version, always a version,
a rendering of reality that lives under the dominant version."
~ adapted from W. Brueggemann

The hope of a secure and livable world
lies with disciplined nonconformists
who are dedicated to justice and peace.
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

WE GATHER IN HOPE!

Prelude

Greeting in Word

In this holy time
GOD WAITS FOR US!
From the margins
WE COME IN HOPE!

*Greeting in Song For All the Children David Lohman

Chorus only: O may our hearts and minds be opened
Fling the church doors open wide.
May there be room enough for everyone inside.
For in God there is a welcome, in God we all belong.
May that welcome be our song.

Sharing Our Lives in Community (i.e. announcements)

Introit (optional)

Call To Advent Worship

Someone is coming…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to grant dignity to long-suffering bodies…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to the breathless…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to those who lack energy…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to those who have neither mother nor father…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to those who cannot get medicine…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming who sees what others ignore…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to bear the name of the One who welcomed all…
WE ARE WAITING…
Someone is coming to give hope when the world says there is none…
AND SO WE SING…

*Advent Carol: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”

Inviting the Presence

God of Advent Hope
Across the infinity of space and time
        a common heart beats in every breast.

ALL OF US ARE AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS.

In the many silences of the heart, O God,
        when feeling is beyond saying,

WE WAIT UPON YOUR SPIRIT.

In the silence of sorrow - when love is lost
        and time brings change that is hard to bear,

WE WAIT UPON YOUR SPIRIT.

In the silence of anger - when justice is postponed
        and prejudice sets neighbor against neighbor,

WE WAIT UPON YOUR SPIRIT.

In the silence of hope - when acceptance is offered
        and a place of welcome is found.

WE OFFER THE HOPE OF CHRIST.

Sharing the Hope

The Hope of Christ be with you.
AND ALSO WITH YOU!

*Singing Our Response “Longfellow's Carol” J. Baptiste Calkin

Once in despair, I bowed my head.
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
of Peace on Earth, good-will to all.
Then peeled the bells, more loud and deep,
“God is not dead, God does not sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
with Peace on Earth, good-will to all.”

WE LISTEN IN HOPE!

Reading from the Prophets: Micah 5: 2-5a

From the margins of society comes hope

Choir Anthem (optional)

Reading from the Gospel: Matthew 1: 1-17

From the margins of history the holy is born

Song of HOPE: “Hope is a Star” (optional)

Reflecting on the Word

We Respond In HOPE!

*Singing our Hope: “A Light is Gleaming” (optional)

In Hope We Gather at the Table

OPEN OUR EARS that we may hear the cries of your people.
OPEN OUR EYES that we may see the needs of your creation.
OPEN OUR HEARTS that we may bring HOPE to the despairing.
OPEN OUR HANDS that we may respond to God's generosity.

Offering is received

*Advent Doxology: “In the Bleak Midwinter” verses 1 & 4

Giving Thanks (adapted from a prayer by the Wild Goose Worship Group © 1999

Gratitude, praise, hearts
lifted high, voices full and joyful… these You deserve.

For when we were nothing, You made us something.
When we had no name and no faith and no future,
You called us Your people.
When we lost our way or turned away, You did not abandon us.
When we come back to You, Your arms opened wide in welcome.

And look, You prepare a table for us offering not just bread, not just wine,
but Your very self so that we may be filled, forgiven,
healed, blessed and made new again.
You are worth all our pain and all our praise.

So now, in gratitude, voices are joined to those of the Church on earth and in heaven.


Sanctus or Duet (optional) Laudamus Te (from Gloria) A. Vivaldi

Advent God, as we come to share the richness of Your table,
we cannot forget the rawness of the earth.

We cannot take bread and forget those who are hungry.
Your world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment.

GOD PUT OUR AFFLUENCE AT THE SERVICE OF THE POOR.

We cannot take wine and forget those who are thirsty.
The ground and the rootless, the earth and its weary people cry out for justice.

GOD PUT OUR FULLNESS AT THE SERVICE OF THE EMPTY.

We cannot hear Your words of peace and forget the world at war.

SHOW US AGAIN AND AGAIN, GOD
HOW TO TURN OUR WEAPONS INTO WELCOME SIGNS
AND THE LUST FOR POWER INTO A DESIRE FOR PEACE.

We cannot celebrate the feast of Your family and forget our divisions.
We are one in spirit, but not in fact.
History and hurt still dismember us.

GOD, HEAL YOUR CHURCH IN EVERY BROKENNESS.

We cannot welcome all until our hearts are transformed by and with love

SO THAT WE MAY TRULY CARE FOR WHO ARE LIVING WITH HIV AND AIDS
IN WHATEVER WAY WE CAN.

And now, lest we believe that our words alone fulfills Your purpose,
we fall silent and remember the One who came because words weren't enough.

Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,
clearing our hearts, and bringing nothing in our hands,
we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting, the forgiving that the Christ offers.

(Silent reflection)

God of passion and life, send now, in kindness, Your Spirit to settle on this bread and cup.
And let that same Spirit rest on us, converting us from the patterns of this passing world,
until we conform to the shape of the One whose food we now share. AMEN

Coming to the Table (Words of Institution)

As you come to receive the bread and the cup you are invited to take a Red Ribbon to wear as an act of remembering those who live with HIV/AIDS

Praying Our Gratitude

In gratitude, in deep gratitude for this moment, this meal, these people, we give ourselves to you.

Take us out to live as changed people because we have shared the Living Bread and cannot remain the same.

ASK MUCH OF US, EXPECT MUCH OF US, ENABLE MUCH BY US, ENCOURAGE MANY THROUGH US. AMEN


*Advent Carol: O Lord, How Shall I Meet You Words by Paul Gerhardt (St. Theodulph)

*Blessing in Word

May we know God's sustaining
AS OUR SOULS ARE MADE READY
For from the margins
THE HOLY IS BORN


*Blessing in Song Your HOPE, O GodSt. Clement
Your HOPE, O God is ever yearning
To touch and heal a world in a pain
May we in Christ be ever learning
To bring to birth that HOPE again.

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Organizational Partners

Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists Brethren-Mennonite Council for LGBT Concerns Open and Affirming Ministries of the Gay, Lesbian & Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Integrity Reconciling Works
More Light Presbyterians Open and Affirming Program of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns (ONA) Reconciling Ministries Network Room for All - Reformed Church in America Welcoming Community Network - Community of Christ