From Valleys to Mountains - Second Sunday of Advent 2

December 4, 2011

Please see Advent Seeds for 2011 in Worship Ways for some suggestions about approach and set up for these services.

Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3: 8-15a; Mark 1: 1-8.

Procession of an elder (may be dressed as the Prophet Isaiah or in modern clothes, but carries a tall wooden walking staff). From the back of the sanctuary the elder pounds the floor and speaks boldly:
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

He or she continues to center of sanctuary, pounds floor, continues speaking to all:
    Every valley shall be lifted up,
    And every mountain and hill made low;
    The uneven ground shall become level,
    And the rough places a plain.

The prophet walks to the altar, completes the verse holding up staff in both hands to heaven facing the congregation:
    Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    And all people shall see it together,
    For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
(“The Prophet” leaves after placing the staff across the Advent Wreath.)

CALL TO WORSHIP after Isaiah 40: 1-11
Leader:      Listen! The voice of God calls out across the ages.

Men:        We hear and respond. We rise up to worship God
             from the valleys, the mountains, and the plains.

Leader:        Like a shepherd God leads us and tenderly gathers us together.

Women:        Comfort, comfort O my people says our God of love.

All:        The grass withers and the flower fades;
            But the word of our God will stand forever!

HYMN        Comfort, Comfort O My People                  TNCH 101
            There’s a Voice in the Wilderness                 TNCH 120

Oh God
You call to us from the wild places,
You call to us from the inner chambers of our hearts.
We come in answer to your call.
We come to pray, to praise,
To learn of your love for all creation.
     Reveal your glory that we may see it together -
Inform and inspire us to seek your kingdom on earth in our time. Amen.  
As a musician plays the tune of La Paz Sea Contigo (Sing! Prayer and Praise 197),
a family processes to the Advent Candles.
One or more voices read the following words as two candles are lit:

One:      Advent is the time of waiting and anticipation as we prepare to welcome Jesus anew.
Like a family prepares a home for the arrival of a baby,
we prepare our hearts for the arrival of God’s own beloved Son.

Two:    John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness proclaiming,
“The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me;
I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”   
Three:     John prepared the way in the wilderness.
We prepare the way in our hearts. 

One:    On this second Sunday of Advent, we re-kindle the candle named paz, peace.
Today we light the candle named amor, love.
May this light shine to remind us that God is the peace and love
that can never be extinguished. Amen.

HYMN (seated)        La Paz Sea Contigo (verses 1 & 2)    Sing! Prayer and Praise  197               
CALL TO CONFESSION after Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Leader:     God is love;
the omnipotent and compassionate parent
that holds the world tenderly in a warm embrace.
God desires that we love each other
as a mother loves her child, as a father embraces his own.

People:     All too often we fail in our efforts
to live as God would have us live.
We push away turning cold shoulders to God and each other.
We express anger and resentment
instead of compassion and grace.
We seek revenge instead of reconciliation.
In these moments we ask God
to forgive us and set us upon the right path.

Silent Prayer

Leader: When we turn to God with faithful hearts,
God hears and responds.
Our failings and shortcomings are forgiven.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
God gives what is good and spreads the path of righteousness before us. Walk in confidence forgiven and forgiving in Christ’s name. Amen.

Love is an emotion that must be shared.
When love is returned we experience belonging, happiness, joy.
Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as God loves us.
Have you loved your neighbor today?
Have you loved God?
May these offerings demonstrate our commitment
to love others as God loves us. 
Holy God, the love we receive from you is beyond our comprehension.
Accept these gifts of love returned to you from grateful hearts.
As your love has no limits,
may this offering be infinite in compassionate outreach to others. Amen. 

BENEDICTION (Option: “The Prophet” from the procession leads the benediction.)

Leader:     Go from this place in the spirit of God’s peace.

Men:        Through deserts or valleys,
we take God’s message of peace to the world.

Leader:     Go from this place in the spirit of God’s love.

Women:    Over high mountains or level plains,
We spread the compassionate love of God.

Leader:     A voice says, “Cry out!” What shall we cry?

All:        God’s love goes with us!
God’s peace will guide us! Amen.

From Valleys to Mountains, Service Prayers for the Second Sunday of Advent, was written by the Rev. Penny L. Lowes, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a free lance writer. She has served two UCC congregations, most recently for seven years as the Senior Pastor at the Congregational Church or Birmingham, UCC in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Copyright 2011 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115