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1301 - 102nd Street
North Battleford, Saskatchewan, S9A 1G4

Who are we? We are a community of faith, known as Third Avenue United Church, who have adopted and prayerfully put into words and deeds what we believe to be our Mission in this community and in the world, and that is: We seek to love and care for God’s creation through worship and service in Christian community. W E L C O M E
Thank you for worshipping with us today!

Background Music: “Carol For Advent
Third Avenue United Church Choir

Order of Worship

First Sunday of Advent ~ November 29, 2020
“Hanging of the Greens”

ORDAINED MINISTER:  Rev. Dexter van Dyke

MUSIC MINISTRY:   Ilene Wettergreen


Time of Celebration - Birthdays & Anniversaries
Announcements: The Life and Work of the Congregation


A Celtic Caim:
Keep shadows without and light within let the light shine that we may be renewed.
Keep fear without and justice within; comfort, comfort all people.
Keep chaos without and life within; may those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Keep despair without and hope within; may we turn and having turned rejoice.
Come, O Advent God, and reveal your promise in us now.
     (Seasons of the Spirit , Advent - Christmas- Epiphany 2008 - 2009 page 29 modified )

Hymn:There's a Voice in the Wilderness”  # 18 VU

1. There's a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod.
prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;
make straight all the crooked places where God, our God, may go!

2. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish, like grass our works decay;
the power and pomp of nations shall pass, like a dream, away.

3. But the word of our God endureth, whose arm is ever strong;
God stands in the midst of nations, and soon will right the wrong.
God shall feed the flock like a shepherd, the lambs so gently hold;
to pastures of peace will lead them, and bring them safe to fold.

4. There's a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod:
prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;
make straight all the crooked places where God, our God, may go!

An Invitation to the hanging of the Greens:
In the days to come the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hill; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say: “"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that God may teach us God's ways and that we may walk in God's paths."” - Isaiah 2: 2 - 3 alt.
With what shall we come to God's house?
Bring branches of cedar and holly, bring evergreens and a pine tree, hang wreaths and garlands. Make the church fragrant with the smell of living things and our holy play. In acts of hanging greens and listening to the words of prophets and seers let us make our hearts and this space a place of inward and outward preparation for the One who comes to give us second birth.

Advent Candle Lighting:
Our Advent journey begins. We prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. We come to be embraced by and to embrace the “Good News” of the Light of the World.
It is within the hidden mysteries of life we discover vulnerability. Within the dancing shadows cast by a flickering candle flame we discover the promise of hope and of new possibilities. We come to be transformed despite and because of our weakness.
We light a candle that it may remind us of the way of hope.
(The first Advent candle is lit.)

Let us join in prayer:
We come to worship looking upon the flickering light of this candle. It dances as your Spirit dances within our hearts, playful, cheerful God, drumming the rhythm of hope that enlivens us all. As you bless us with the Way of Jesus, may we invite others to Christ's dance of transformation. Amen.
     (written by Gord Dunbar Gathering Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2020, page 71 Used with permission adapted)

Hymn:  “Hope Is a Star # 7 VU (Verse 1 only)
1. Hope is a star that shines in the night,
leading us on till the morning is bright.
When God is a child there's joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong, and none shall be afraid.

Opening Prayer and the Lord's Prayer:  # 959 VU
Holy Presence, source of hope, in our busy and thing filled world, may we hear the invitation to be patient, the invitation to not place our trust in the things of this world but in you, the God who is love eternal. May we know and be guided by Love's presence in our Advent preparations and journey. As we begin this year's Advent journey may we find cause for hope in our world and in our lives, as we remember the hopes and dreams of those who have traveled this road before us.
May this Advent and Christmas season be a source of renewed hope for us and for others. And now we join to pray as Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying, or softly singing “Our Father, . . . . Amen”.
People of God, consider the doors of the sanctuary and contemplate the doorway to the Christian year on this first Sunday of Advent. Let us mark the entrance to the church building and our hearts and minds as portals for Christ to enter.
All: Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus!

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the Ruler of glory may come in.
Who is the Ruler of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the Ruler of glory may come in.
Who is this Ruler of glory?
The Lord of hosts, the Lord is the Ruler of glory!
     - Psalm 24:7-10

Hanging Garlands/Wreaths:
How shall we make this place a reminder of our need of repentance and that faithfulness and integrity that comes from God our maker and redeemer?
All: Let us hang wreaths and garlands as Hosea speaks the word of God:
(Those hanging garlands and wreaths do so during the reading)

A Reading from Hosea:  14: 4, 8 - 9
I will heal my people's disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me. Those who are wise understand these things; those who are discerning know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. Here ends the reading.

Time with the Young and Young at Heart:

Prayer of Transformation
God who is love, God of wonder and surprise, there are times when we can get so caught up in the preparations for Christmas that we lose sight of the story of the birth of Jesus and what it seeks to tell us. We become so stressed by needing to be prepared that we stop preparing ourselves to receive Jesus anew. Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by the things we think we have to do that we want it all to be over and done, behind us before it has happened. We want to carry on with what we think of as normal, ordinary life. We want life to carry on as before as though nothing has changed. As we have need, may we be open to hearing the essential messages of Christmas, as if we were hearing them for the first time; may we turn from the things that distract us and turn toward You, our loving God. May this Advent time of waiting and turning, open our hearts, open our minds and open our souls to the love that would transform us and through us transform the world, to bring the kingdom, the kin-dom, that Jesus imagined and proclaimed. Amen.

Words of Assurance:
Advent is a time for reflection, for repentance, for transformation; God hears, God knows, and through loving-kindness, by grace forgives. We are a forgiven people! Thanks be to God!
     (written by George Allan Gathering Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2020, page 32 Used with permission adapted)

Halle, Halle, Halle: Sing Twice  # 958 VU {Please Stand}

Celebration of the Christmas Tree:
Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, is a God of comfort and compassion. With the Christmas tree we remember God's everlasting promises to the poor and needy. Isaiah spoke of God's making of the wilderness a place of blessing where water and plants, even pine trees, would manifest God's loving action to save and provide. Place the tree, strong friends, as we hear God's word.


A Reading from the prophet Isaiah: 41: 17 - 20
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. The word of the Lord.

Hanging Chrismons or Other Symbols of Christ and Faith:
Here in this place we prepare for the coming of the Lord. Here we will remember Christ's Advent, his birth in Bethlehem, weak and helpless as an infant. And here we rekindle our prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus” as we await his coming as the bright and morning star.

All: Hang symbols and signs of Christ - ruler, prophet, priest. Hang stars, crosses, triangles, the "alpha" and the "omega" to remind us of his identity, his story, and of the holy Trinity.

A Reading from the book of Revelation: 22: 12 - 14, 17
See, I am coming soon ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. The word of the Lord.
Hang the chrismons, starting with a star.

Message:  “A Light Shines in the Darkness

Hymn:Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus  # 2 VU

1. Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free:
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

2. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art,
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

3. Born thy people to deliver; born a child and yet a king;
born to reign in us forever; now thy gracious kingdom bring.

4. By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.


Gifts of the People

Invitation to Offering:
Through these gifts, may we be agents of "hope" in this your world and ours; lifting people up in love so that they can experience an abundant future.
     (written by Karen Boivin Gathering Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2017-2018 page 30. Adapted. Used with permission)

Doxology: “Grant Us, God, the Grace” (Tune # 540 VU)
Grant us, God, the grace of giving, with a spirit large and free,
that ourselves and all our living we may offer faithfully.

We offer these gifts along with our praise and our love, to celebrate your presence and your reign in our lives; to thank you for your love and your care. May this offering be used to build your realm in this faith community and in the world. Amen.

Sharing our Joys and Concerns  (if the joy or concern you wish to bring is not your own please seek the agreement of the person to whom it belongs before bringing it on their behalf )

Prayers of the People: (# 400 VU Lord Listen to Your Children Praying)
Lord, listen to your children praying,
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, listen to your children praying,
send us love, send us power, send us grace!

God who is love, source of all hope, we give thanks this day for the hope that the "Good News" of your great love brings to our lives and to our world. In these times of the covid19 pandemic, as the numbers of those infected continue to increase, we need to be reminded of and to remember the wonder of your love for us and for all the world. We thank you for that great love. We bring before you in prayer those known to us and all those whom we do not know who are infected by this covid19 virus. For those who are seriously ill and struggling with any or all of the symptoms we pray that they may find comfort in your love. We pray for those who love them and cannot be with them, we pray for the health care worker who care for them. We pray for all who are lonely and all who are afraid. While we can not help but think of and about the pandemic crisis that we face may we also enter into this Advent time and use it to reflect on our lives and upon our faith. May we listen for the things we are being asked to do to make this world more just, more kind, more compassionate, more loving, and more safe. May we turn from the paths and ways that take us astray and turn towards you, O God, who is love. Make we work for a world where all are included; where the colour of our skin and our gender make no difference; where there is space and place for everyone; where all have life full and abundant. Holy Mystery, touch us with your grace and fill our hearts and minds with hope. We offer this prayer and all the silent unspoken prayers of our hearts and minds in the name of the one whose birth we prepare to celebrate. Amen.

Closing Hymn:May the God of Hope Go with Us #424 VU

1. May the God of hope go with us every day, filling all our lives with love and joy and peace.
May the God of justice speed us on our way, bringing light and hope to every land and race.
Refrain: Praying, let us work for peace, singing, share our joy with all,
working for a world that's new, faithful when we hear Christ's call.

2. May the God of healing free the earth from fear, freeing us for peace, both treasured and pursued.
May the God of love keep our commitment clear to a world restored, to human life renewed.“   Refrain

*Commissioning - Benediction - Choral Amen: # 967 VU
May the God of hope go with us every day, filling all our lives with love and joy and peace.
May the God of justice speed us on our way, bringing light and hope to every land and race.
Praying, let us work for peace, singing, share our joy with all,
working for a world that's new, faithful when we hear Christ's call.

This service contains materials borrowed from an online site Disciples Ministries The United Methodist Church Hanging of the Greens Service 2019

Lectionary Reading for Next Sunday, November 29, 2020  Second Sunday of Advent  Isaiah 40:1-11;  Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13;  2 Peter 3:8-15a;  Mark 1:1-8.

November 29, 2020

Growing at Golden Lake Camp
Our gifts for Mission & Service make United Church camps places where many lives are transformed. Let us hear from Amy, a young adult leader at Golden Lake Camp in the Upper Ottawa Valley.
This year will be my second as Program Director for Golden Lake Camp and my fourth year in total. I started my GLC journey as a volunteer, spending two and a half weeks there my first summer.
I could go into lots of detail about all the amazing things I experienced-the equally amazing staff and campers I met, the personal and spiritual growth I went through, and the deeper connection with God I fostered-but I don't think you want to hear an essay-length story! In short, by the end of my time volunteering I had been having so much fun that I didn't even remember to cash my honorarium cheque. The Executive Director (the one-and-only lovely Beth Payson) told me the following summer when I applied for a permanent position how I had kind of messed up the budget that year by not cashing it…whoops!
Working at GLC literally (and I don't use that word lightly) made my life better, and I've met some lifelong friends there. The atmosphere and love in this place are infectious, and you truly make a noticeable difference in children's lives.
If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

A table with books, pictures to color or draw your own, and crayons are at the back of the Sanctuary for children to use if they wish.