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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, November 29 – 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 – NOVEMBER 29, 2020

“Waiting in Hope – Life is Not About Falling Down, Life is About Getting Up”

Mark 13:24-37 and 1 Corinthians 13:13

Rev. Robert Conover

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, November 29, 2020 – The First Sunday in Advent

Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Jan Reynolds, Rev. Bob Conover, Tracy Walthard, 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 hope.

Because the world is broken and the wait is long,

but hope just won’t let go.

Hope holds space for all our longings

lingers on the edge of harsh reality

like the dawn gently awakening the sky.

“Keep awake,” she whispers,

“for the world is being made new.”

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

“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”, by Charles Wesley – performed by Shannon Wexelberg

Music: Shannon Wexelberg Album: Love Came For Me, Footage: Natgeo – CCLI #885509

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the image to watch Tracy Walthard present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for November:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, November 29th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of November 29th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for November:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, November 29th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of November 29th:

Message for Youth

There is something special about a sunrise. The light breaking into the dark with shades of orange, red and pink highlighting the sky. There is a kind of hush as the light signals a new day. A new day filled with hope, adventures and treasures. It’s a gift we are given each day yet few of us take the time to pause, give thanks and appreciate the awe and wonder of it all. To ask God, “What path has He planned for me today”? It makes me wonder what other gifts I’m missing in my day. What other treasures I’m passing by in my busyness or distractions.

God goes before each of us, planting treasures along our paths to inspire, bless and share with others. Yet we get caught up in our own craziness that we miss them. At least I do!

That’s why it’s so important for me to take time each morning to sit with God, to read scripture and to ask for His Will in my day. I need to remember to be available and not so tied to my to do list that I miss the “treasures” in my day. Treasures like a conversation with my neighbor, answering a phone call, seeing how the leaves are changing, wishing a person happy birthday and waving back to a stranger walking down the street. These “treasures” connect me to something bigger than myself. They remind me I’m a part of a bigger story- God’s story. I am reminded to slow down and join in the story. It’s so easy to forget that when we connect with each other, we may be the “treasure” in their day. God could be using us to be a blessing. So easy to forget and so important to remember!

As we give thanks for the blessings we have received, let us take time to look around for the treasures that God has placed in our paths. Really see the treasures! Treasures like a sunrise fill with colors and hope for the new day. 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

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Jan Reynolds offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

A Prayer of Advent Hope   

Father God, every word in scripture points to your gift of hope. The Christmas story wasn’t the beginning of that message; the Hebrew Scriptures are full of glimpses of your plan to redeem your people and restore us into a relationship with you. What eternal hope you give us as we look forward to the birth of Jesus Christ, your incarnate love with us!

Help us to see that you are with us even now and always have been. Nothing is too difficult, too messy, or too “real” for you.

That first Christmas, you gave the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Thank you, Holy God, for your immeasurable gift. With Advent we anticipate your presence here with us again and again. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

And now we pray the prayer that 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

Advent: Living in Hope

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

Mark 13:24-37 and 1 Corinthians 13:13

Click the arrow below to hear Rev. Bob Conover’s reading of this morning’s Scripture or read the Scripture below

Good morning St. Andrew, it is good to be with you on this first Sunday in Advent. We have two lessons for this morning and I’ll read both of them. And then later, when we come to the video of the sermon, I’ll do a little more explaining as to why we have these lessons for this day.

So now hear the word of God. First, as it comes to us from the Gospel according to Mark

Mark 13:24-37
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.
Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,
or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Now our next reading comes from the very familiar letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. This is 1 Corinthians 13 and you know it as the great love chapter, it is so often read at weddings. We’re only going to read the very last verse of that chapter,

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

May God bless us as we seek understanding of God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon

Advent 2020

“Waiting in Hope – Life is Not About Falling Down, Life is About Getting Up”

Mark 13:24-37 and 1 Corinthians 13:13

Rev. Robert Conover

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Bob Conover’s Sermon or read the Sermon below

Good morning again, or welcome back. This is the first Sunday in Advent, and Jan asked me if I would work with the theme, “Waiting in Hope”, and I was happy to do so. Many of you are familiar with Advent wreaths and there are numerous traditions surrounding the Advent wreath. But perhaps it is most common that the first candle, the first Sunday in Advent, the theme, the symbol is hope. Therefore, “Waiting in Hope”.

The lessons that we heard were the Gospel according to Mark. That is the lesson that is assigned for this day by the lectionary, the sequence of readings over a three-year period. This is the first Sunday of the church year, first Sunday of Advent, and this is the lesson assigned for this day. It’s kind of an apocalyptic lesson. It’s a lesson about waiting, about coming, about arrival. Advent means coming. It’s a lesson about expecting. A lesson about being on the watch, staying awake, alert.

Our second lesson is just a single passage from 1 Corinthians. It’s one I selected simply because it has the word hope in it. It may be that there is no passage more famous with the word hope then this one. “Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.”

It’s the first Sunday of Advent. We are setting our gaze, our eyes, our face towards the coming of Christ. There are four Sundays in Advent and each Sunday the theme grows and as we light each candle. The light grows as well. Waiting in hope.

We can wait in a variety of ways. When we’re standing in line at the checkout counter in the grocery store, and the line is way too long, like it was earlier this week before Thanksgiving, we may wait in impatience. A friend of mine had surgery earlier this week. When we were sitting in the surgical waiting room, we may wait in anxiety. Children, during this time of year, as we move towards Christmas, they wait with anticipation. They can hardly wait. They’re so excited. There’s a variety of ways of waiting.

Waiting and hope are closely tied together. Several years ago, my family spent a month in Oaxaca, Mexico in Spanish language school. We stayed with a family for that month and the mother’s name was Esperanza. Well, it didn’t take too long in working in my Spanish class before I was taught the verb “esperar”. Esperar means hope. I got to thinking about Esperanza and I did a little looking up and Esperanza means hope. But I also learned that esperar means wait. In Spanish, it means both wait and hope. But we don’t always wait and hope. As I said, sometimes we wait with impatience or wait with anxiety.

I’m not sure if we can wait with despair and have hope. Hope is all tied up with a sense of life. Theodore Dostoevsky said, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” So as followers of Jesus, in one way or another, our waiting is to be tied in a sense of a future of wholeness, of salvation, of hope. Being alive and living life are tied thoroughly with hope.

A saying I often use is, “Life is not about the falling down. Life is about the getting up.” Have you ever noticed a young child just beginning to walk? Just wait until we’re all able to go back to a real church on Sunday morning and we’re gathered there in the coffee hour, and there is a nine month or 10 month, 11 month old, who is learning to walk. She’ll make her way up, and everyone in the coffee hour will stand back and just gleam at watching that child learn to walk. Of course, she’s going to fall, but it would not occur to her not to get back up and try again.

Life is not about the falling down. We all fall. Life is about the getting up. Even a young child, just a toddler, knows that inherently. This is another way of saying: life, genuine living life, is a life of hope.

If we look at the lesson from the Gospel of Mark, we see that there is a way that we are instructed to wait. A way of expectancy, of alertness, of paying attention, or as the final phrase goes, “What I say to you, I say to all, be awake.” So, the season of Advent reminds us not only how to wait, but how to live in general, in a state of awareness, of paying attention. Paying attention, especially to that which is really real, and that which is grounded in love. We have been living in a time where the term, “fake news”, is something we hear several times a day.

The question for us as God’s people is paying attention, being alert to that which is real and taking a look at that reality with a long, loving gaze. That’s the stance of our heart, to look on the world with that sense of love. Paying attention, being awake, being alert for that reality is not an easy thing to do. We spend so much of our life unaware and just drifting off. We all do, and the very natural thing for our mind to do is to wander. It probably wanders no more frequently than it does when you’re listening to a sermon.

So we have to pay attention and create a center that we can come back to. One way of doing that, is to pay attention to those final words of the Apostle Paul, “These three, faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.”

It’s kind of a funny thing when you consider that 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Paul goes on for 12 verses solid about love, and then out of nowhere he says, “Faith, hope and love.” Nowhere in the preceding 12 verses did he say a word about faith or hope, only love; and then he got all the way to the end, and he pulled faith and hope in there. That gives us a clue to something. That somehow in Paul’s mind and in our lives, love and hope and faith are all tied up together. That we can’t really have one without the other. One of the most loving things you can do for yourself, and those around you, is to be a person of hope. To find the hope, to look for the hope and to share that hope. That is love.

Faith. We often translate the Greek word pistis as faith and that’s a very fine translation. But another perfectly good word, and one that I think maybe works a little better for us at times, is that pistis also means to trust. In all those times of difficulty trusting, having faith, trusting that we will come through it.

My mother-in-law is 93 years old and my wife received a call. She lives with my sister-in-law, with my wife’s sister. We received a call this week that she wasn’t doing well. She’s lived a good, long, wonderful life. Death is approaching. We don’t know when, but in the near future.

You might think that when we know we are at death’s door, that then there’s little reason to hope. But from our perspective as Christ followers, even at the nearness of death, we have our hope in Christ, our hope in God, our hope in life eternal even though we may not have the slightest idea of what that might be like. We rest in that assurance, we rest in that hope. Faith, hope and love all tied together.
As we move through the next four weeks, I want to give you a homework assignment. The assignment is this: To be awake, to stay alert, to pay attention and at the end of each day, name for yourself one place where you saw love or trust or hope being displayed. Only one, not two or three. I don’t know what will happen if you do two or three. Only one and the reason only one is to spend just a little time pondering, exploring what was it about whatever it was that you saw or experienced, saw it in others or experienced in yourself, that made that sense of love, of hope of faith possible. Then just let it go until the next day.

Now, I won’t be with you again until the very end of January. So do your homework and you can turn it in then and together we’ll see how we all did. In the meantime, I wish you God’s blessing. May this be a time full of hope for you as we move through the Sundays. When we prepare to receive Christ in our midst or said another way, when we prepare to receive faith, hope and love again and again.

My good friends at St Andrew, may God bless you and keep you. May God be kind and gracious to you. May God look upon you with favor and give you peace.
Amen.

Closing Song

A Little Anticipatory Christmas Cheer!

“We Need a Little Christmas” is a popular Christmas song originating from Jerry Herman’s Broadway musical, Mame

Artist: Percy Faith, Album: The Very Best Christmas Classics, Writer:
Jerry Herman – Licensed to YouTube by SME, The Orchard Music (on behalf of Worldwide Records); Warner Chappell, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, LatinAutorPerf, CMRRA, ASCAP, Kobalt Music Publishing, and 9 Music Rights Societies. CCLI #885509

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