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In addition to this Virtual Worship Service, you are invited to join us on Zoom for the
All Church Coffee Hour
Sunday, December 6 – 10:00am – 11:00am
It will be a time for Check-in, Prayers, and getting better acquainted in Small Group Conversation.
We hope you’ll join us – Bring a church friend!

Use the Zoom link in our Saturday and Sunday emails.
Email the church office if you need the Zoom link: Link Request

SUNDAY – DECEMBER 6, 2020

“Preparing in Peace”
Rev. Jan Reynolds

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, December 6, 2020 – The Second Sunday in Advent

Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Jan Reynolds, John Schiller, Tracy Walthard, Eliza Jane Mills, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Call to Worship

Lighting of the Advent Candle

Click the arrow below to hear Rev. Jan Reynolds offer the Advent Liturgy or read the Liturgy below

Light one candle for peace.

Because the world is broken

and the wait is long,

but we refuse to be frozen by fear.

Peace comes in fits and starts

a deep breath

a courageous truth

a humble heart.

“Prepare the way,” she whispers,

“for the Lord comes to make the broken whole.”

So we light one candle,

because it only takes one:

Christ with us.

One Candle, An advent liturgy for 2020 by Rev. Karen Ware Jackson

Opening Song

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, Words from a 9th century poem, Music from 12th century French chant – performed by Lincoln Brewster

Album: A Mostly Acoustic Christmas; Licensed to YouTube by:[Merlin] Absolute Label Services; Kobalt Music Publishing, UMPG Publishing, and 4 Music Rights Societies – CCLI #885509

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow to watch Tracy Walthard and Eliza Jane Mills present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for December:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, December 6th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of December 6th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for December:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, December 6th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of December 6th:

Message for Youth

I love Christmas ornaments! I love to give them out. I love to receive and exchange them. Each year as I decorate the tree for Christmas, I’m flooded with the memories of when and whom I received the ornaments from. My hope is that the people who received ornaments from me smile as they put the ornament on their tree, mantle or wreath. It’s such a simple thing, yet fun and memorable.

This year, we are being challenged to connect in different ways, to celebrate the birth of our Savior in different ways. To show and practice love in different ways. Yet we are inventive and creative. With God’s hope and love guiding us, we can start new traditions this year. New ways to give back and serve others. New ways to lift each other up and celebrate God’s amazing gift to us – Jesus. Showing kindness and compassion to one another as we do this.

This is a joyous time of year and it takes on a deeper meaning for me. We are celebrating the hope and the light of Jesus’ birth in a chaotic time filled with unknowns and losses. Yet we celebrate with hope. By our words, actions and deeds, we can be the hope and light breaking into the darkness of fear and uncertainty.

So, start a new tradition this Christmas. One that involves love, hope and joy. One that shares the love of God’s amazing gift of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Start a tradition and see what God does with it! Imagine our community flooded with love, light and hope! Blessings, Dawne Carver

Joys and Concerns

Please let us know how we can support you in prayer this week. We will share requests for prayer with Deacons and staff, and with the congregation as appropriate.

Click on the image below to submit a prayer request.

Prayer for Peace

The Christmas Dove by Eugene P. McNerney – http://paintingsdaybyday.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-christmas-dove.htm

Click the arrow below to see and hear John Schiller offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

Prayer for Peace – Edited from Rebecca Barlow Jordan

Lord, in a season when every heart longs to be happy and light, many of us are struggling with the heaviness of life—burdens that steal the joy right out of our stockings. An inner voice whispers, “Be afraid!”

We need your peace, Dear God. We confess that our hearts are too often filled with wonder of a different kind: wondering when the bills will be paid, when emotional rest will come.

This Advent, make Peace real in our hearts. Never have we needed your joy and peace more than now. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, our Emmanuel, Your presence with us. You’ve promised rest for the weary, peace for the anxious, and acceptance for the broken hearted—not just at Advent, but every day of every year.

The anticipated Christ is “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” and “The Prince of Peace.” We know that peace on earth will come when our hearts find peace in You.

And now we pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

Faith Offering

Please continue your giving during this time, so that St. Andrew may continue to serve our local community and our membership. We recognize that some of you have been impacted financially by economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of you who can, please continue to give on a regular basis.

There are several options available:

  • Give electronically to the St. Andrew General Fund
  • Set up your donation to St. Andrew to be paid through your bill paying service at your personal bank.
  • Mail a check to St. Andrew, or drop your envelope into our locked mail box: 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Scripture

Isaiah 40:1-3, 9-11 and Luke 1:67-68, 76-79

Click the arrow below to hear John Schiller’s reading of this morning’s Scripture or read the Scripture below

Isaiah 40: 1-3, 9-11
Comfort, O comfort my people,
  says your God…
…say to the cities of Judah,
  “Here is your God!”
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
  he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
  and gently lead the mother sheep.

Luke 1:67-68, 76-79
Then [John’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
  for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
  for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
  by the forgiveness of their sins.

By the tender mercy of our God,
  the dawn from on high will break upon us,
give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Sermon

Advent 2020
“Preparing in Peace”
Rev. Jan Reynolds

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Jan Reynolds’ Sermon or read the Sermon below

What do you do when you are feeling restless and conflicted? Where do you turn when you feel out of sorts, worried, upset, unbalanced?
 
Hopefully, over time, we each figure out what brings us peace. We certainly have plenty of opportunities in life, don’t we?
 
Like many of you, I discover God’s gift of peace through a walk in nature, whenever I stop everything and focus on God’s love, and when I release my worries through prayer for others, turning my cares, concerns and loved ones over to God. 
 
When I feel a sense of internal restlessness, I often call one of my trusted friends, sometimes a colleague, and just talk it all out. I’m an extrovert most of the time, and I have to put all my thoughts out in front of me so that I can get a closer look at all the jumbled feelings and my fears. Once I do, I often feel a sense of order and peace. I think this outreach to others may be a type of prayer. Through God’s inspiration, my friends seem to know how to comfort me through deep listening.
 
In a Washington Post article this week, it said that men in America, pre-Covid, often found their joy and peace in “shoulder to shoulder” companionship – side by side, watching a sports game perhaps, or drinking a beer at the bar. But in these crazy times, men are finding new ways to communicate face-to-face to find internal peace. Apparently, there are more men’s zoom support groups for conversation, and also new shoulder-to-shoulder activities for guys, like walking together in conversation.
 
Manfred Kets de Vries, a Clinical Professor of Leadership, writes about the “Walking and Talking Cure:” walking and talking in nature increases social connection, health, and general feelings of peace and well-being. Hey, in this Covid time, let’s do more of that now!

Pastors, church deacons, spiritual friends, counselors, nurses and doctors, teachers and so many others, offer that same kind of listening when they receive others’ stories without judgment. Deeply being present to another person’s life provides comfort and peace. This is a calling, this kind of listening. And anyone can provide that for another person, without trying to fix what’s wrong. What a gift. 

In our readings today, two prophets, Zechariah and Isaiah receive blessings from God and a declaration of their calling toward peace-making.

Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth and new father of Jesus’ cousin John, has a vision that his son will prepare the way for the one who comes next, The One who himself will “guide our feet into the way of peace.” This is a beautiful chain of comfort – Zechariah to John to Jesus to us. Jesus, who guides us onto paths of peace.

God asks Isaiah to bring comfort to God’s people in exile. Isaiah is called to be with the people in their great need, to help them understand that in all the impermanence of human life, God’s love and compassion will be with them always.

God desires that we all live in peace. God invites us to holy space, where we will be filled up by quiet and calm, even in the midst of exile. Peace comes within this holy space, where time opens up; a place for reverie, for being with the One who loves you beyond measure.

Nothing to do, nothing to say. All is safe. All is Peace.

This peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, is ours for the taking. This peace puts everything else in perspective. All the noisy drama in life that begs for our attention and our reaction is put into perspective by this Divine Presence we can go to in song, in prayer, in silence. A deep well of peace.

“By the tender mercy of our God,
  the dawn on high will break upon us,
 to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

These ancient words spoken by Zechariah in Luke have been chanted by monks every morning for a thousand years. To quote a contemplative Christian leader, Tom Bushlack, meditating on these words “serves as a daily reminder that the light of the sun illuminates each new morning, that the divine compassion is always shining on us reminding us of God’s unending love, calling us to embrace it and share it with the world.”

In a state of peace, I receive the self-compassion that comes when I understand that I have already been forgiven, understood and blessed by God. But I often forget this essential blessing. 

Like Zechariah and his son John, we prepare the way for peace this Advent. Like Isaiah, we are called by God to bring comfort to others. 

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to have a couple of difficult conversations with people I love. I walked around all day not sure about what to say or how to go about it. But I found that through prayer and meditation, God’s wisdom comes forward. I was able to center myself first, so I was not defensive. I seem to have to learn, again and again that gaining equilibrium through abiding in peace, helps my own mental health and my relationships.

I want to invite you to try this meditation for Peace. Close your eyes if you are comfortable.

First, let’s take three deep breaths, focusing on your out-breath. Allow awareness to drop to your heart and expand out to your entire body as you breathe. 

Next, welcome the tender compassion of God into your body and being, as an opportunity to consent to the presence of the Divine indwelling. Imagine infinite Divine compassion filling your entire body, your entire mind and entire being. Note what you are feeling and where, without resistance, without judgment or any need to change or fix anything. 

Once you have welcomed this compassion, form an intention of living in peace today – how will you cultivate peace today? How will you share it with the world? Choose a word or phrase that will help you recall this intention throughout the day… perhaps simply “Peace be in my understanding.”

God, we thank you for creating in each of us “a good, adequate and creative human being.” May we honor your Divine Presence in all whom we encounter today. Amen

(This meditation, “Guided Morning Prayer” is from Tom Bushlack on the Insight Timer app.)

This Advent and Christmas season seek peace. Gaze long into candlelight. Sit under a tree and ponder its life and beauty. Walk slowly in the brisk air, seeking God’s peace.

God’s peace is your birthright. It is yours to discover wherever you are.

And may you be blessed as you share the comfort of God’s peace with others. 

I hope you will enjoy this prayer for peace by the Voices of Hope Children’s Choir:

I leave you with this Celtic Christian Blessing for Advent. Again, you may want to close your eyes and imagine the peace in these nature images:

Deep peace I breathe into you,
 
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!           
 
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you;
deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
 
Deep peace of the shining stars to you;
deep peace of infinite space to you;
 
Deep peace from the heart of Mary to you,
Deep peace from the Son of Peace to you!
deep peace, deep peace!”
Amen.

In this season of hope, joy and love, may you especially know the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding… today, tomorrow and forever more. May it be so!

Closing Song

A Little Anticipatory Christmas Joy!

“Deck the Halls (antiphonal version)” Music, lyrics, and video for the song by Greg Gilpin

CCLI #885509

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