Reflections on Peace

Link to Sermon

Order of Worship

Let us be as open vessels that God’s spirit may enter.

The Community Gathers:  Experience God’s presence in the assembly. Please greet one another with joy and welcome new friends into our community of love.

      You are welcome here…come and worship!

Gathering Music:       In The Bleak Midwinter (by Gustav Holst) 

                                                                              -Ada Goff

Welcome:                                          Rev. Paula Norbert

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise [One], I would do my part;

Yet what can I give Him: I will give my heart.

Reader: We unwrap a present on this second Sunday of Advent with great anticipation for the gift that God will reveal. 

                                                                   -Caryn Firebaugh

People: We open our hearts as we open the gift!

Reader: The promise of Peace is the Divine Gift we receive.

People: And what will we do with it?

Reader: The gift of Christ’s peace reminds us that we can have serenity even in the midst of non-peaceful situations.

Peace is not simply the absence of conflict.

Peace is an ever-present gift that we can open at any time

when we stop, breathe, and trust that we are never alone.

And the gift of peace we can give is to be present for those who feel alone.

People: We light this Candle of Peace as a sign that we will be Present with Peace in the world.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise [One], I would do my part;

Yet what can I give Him: I will give my heart.

Opening Prayer:  Holy Living Light of God, you are our Peaceful Presence. Let this peace grow in our lives each day, 

so we can be a Present of Peace to others.

Unwrap and open our hearts. May it be so. Amen.

Passing the Peace: 

Lord’s Prayer

Opening Hymn:  O Little Town of Bethlehem               #121

Scripture:  Isaiah 40: 1-11 and 2 Peter 3: 8-15a, -Caryn Firebaugh

Gospel and Meditation:  Mark 1: 1-8            Rev. Paula Norbert

Welcome:  In our Advent series, we are celebrating the gift of being truly present — to each other and to the call of God to make this world a better place. We can be the gift of presence with those who are experiencing life as less-than-peaceful. But this might also be true of how we are personally feeling in this moment. Our lives can feel a bit chaotic or in need of a makeover. The Good News is that God is continually making a way for do-overs. In this we can find peace, even when life doesn’t feel so peaceful. This week we focus on what it means to be a gift of non-anxious presence for those who need it most

                                       Gospel Reading    Mark 1: 1-8

Reader: The second Gospel reading of Advent from the Gospel according to Mark is the very beginning of the book, setting up the idea that this story of Jesus will be a transformative experience. Drawing on the prophet Isaiah, Mark tells his readers that God is making a way in the most difficult places, clearing open paths in the desert places. John the Baptist shows up in Advent, as he typically does, a sign that the time has come when the Messiah, born of the Spirit, will be present among us.

Here begins the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God: as it was written in Isaiah the prophet: “I send my messenger before you to prepare your way, a herald’s voice in the desert, crying, ‘Make ready the way of our God. Clear a straight path.’ ” And so John the Baptizer appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John and were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and he ate nothing but grasshoppers and wild honey. In the course of his preaching, John said, “One more powerful than I is to come after me. I am not fit to stoop and untie his sandal straps. I have baptized you in water, but the One to come will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

Meditation                               2 Peter 3: 8-15a

Let us embrace these beautiful words of Isaiah…“Console my people, give them comfort,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem’s heart,” … “Like a shepherd you feed your flock, gathering the lambs and holding them close, and leading mother ewes with gentleness.”  One of lovely images that we have of God that is repeated often in Scriptures is the one of the Shepherd.   Jesus is later called the Good Shepherd, the lamb of God.  Our God is indeed holding us tenderly, holding us close with gentleness in the midst of each day and especially in times when peace seems elusive.  The gift of Peace is one that our God offers to us and in the moments of our days, may we be present to this gift and allow it to calm our hearts and minds.

This morning as we speak of peace, we encounter passages that speak directly about matters of death and the end of things, and yet, we are encouraged to have peace. “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace,” we hear in 2nd Peter.  Being “at peace” is a goal for mindfulness, and is more complicated than just feeling calm. Being “at peace” is not the ability to ignore disruptions, pain, or distractions–it is the ability to take them and be “at peace” WITH them. What is also striking in this passage is the encouragement that we worship a patient God. In being present with God, and seeking mindfulness, a lot of waiting is involved.

 This passage is focused strongly on exhorting people to wait. The author is concerned that people 100 years or so after Jesus’ death are not feeling as urgently about Jesus’ second coming as they should be. It’s easy to be distracted and feel urgently about other things in our own lives–things that the Prophet Isaiah reminds us have “constancy like the flowers of the field.”

We too often find ourselves multitasking or obsessing about something that isn’t quite right or settled or the particular way we like it. We are very accustomed to a preoccupied mind that often has little peace. In this season, let us give ourselves a respite from this pace as we slow down in our time of prayer, taking on a more peaceful rhythm.  

And so let us pause for a moment as we allow ourselves to receive the gift of Peace in our lives.  Let us be still and know that the Prince of Peace is here with us even now and coming once again.  Let us be open to the blessings of peace so that we may be a peaceful presence to others.  

And now I welcome our friend, Louise Merriman, to share some reflections on peace in her life…

• What do you think is God’s vision for a new heaven and a new earth?

• How can righteousness be at home among us?

Reflections on Peace:         Louise Merriman

Music:  Meditative Instrumental (By Michelle Currie)      -Michelle Currie

Musical call to Prayer: (sung two times)          – Michelle Currie

Hush now in quiet peace, be still your mind at ease. 

The spirit brings release, so wait upon the Lord.      

      Prayers of the People               Pastoral Prayer

Offertory:  This is My Wish (by Kevin Ross)  -Ada Goff & Michelle Currie


Closing Music:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day    *See Lyric Insert

Blessing:  “As we strip away the cluttered surface of our lives

and become more present in the moment, we may be disturbed by what we can now see in the open vista, especially the suffering of “the least of these.”  We are no longer numb to the cries of those hurting.  We ache for the violence humans do to one another and to the earth. We see all people and all creation held within God’s love and life. Our comfortable lives are disrupted as we ask new, hard questions. But being more mindfully present will also bring greater awareness  of God’s presence, peace, and clarity in the midst of it all.”   [adapted from Amy Oden, Right Here, Right Now]

So now go and be truly present

so you may be a gift of presence for others.

That’s all that is expected —

that the gift that is YOU is the best gift you can give.

In the name of the Holy Presence, the Son, and the Spirit of Peace that are just waiting for us to unwrap abundant life.   Amen.

Postlude:  We Need a Silent Night In Here  (by Marsha Jean Moors-Charles/Chuck Bell)  -Michelle & Congregation

We need a silent night in here.

We need your presence to come near.

Give us the hope we seek

and the peace we need.

We need a silent night in here.

Give us the hope we seek

and the peace we need.

We need a silent night in here.