Welcome! We are honored to have you join us today! If you are new to our church, please feel free to read the explanations below about the different parts of our service. It will help you understand why we do certain practices and instruct you on how you can participate as well. We hope to include you as much as possible because we value you!
UJCC Sunday Worship Service
November 27, 2022 * 1st Sunday of Advent
“Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent Season in expectation of the Lord. For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord, who will visit us all on the feast, but also, each one, in our own hearts. The Lord is coming! Let us wait for him!”
― Pope Francis, Angelus, 8 December 2013
We Gather Together
You are invited to the spiritual practice of returning thanks to God. You can try our online giving option HERE. Thank you and peace be with you!
We recognize that some of you may have had a crazy week and need some space or quiet time. So, 5-10 minutes prior to the service, we will play some music that you can listen to while you meditate. Otherwise, feel free to let us know that you're here by saying hi in the chat!
Words of Welcome
Around 10:30AM, our service will start. During this time, our worship leader will offer a greeting, introduce special guests, or provide important information for the service. Ultimately, we want to show how much we appreciate you joining us today despite your busy schedule.
Song of Centering - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
In the same way that we get ready for a date, it is important for us to get ready to hear God’s Word. So, during the songs of centering, we intentionally try to lay aside our busy lives, worries, and distractions in order to focus on God. For if we have too much noise in our minds, this can leave little room for God. Please feel free to sit quietly in meditation, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, sing along, or use your body as you are able.
First Sunday of Advent (Focus: Isaiah 64:1–9)
Reader 1: O God, we light the first candle of Advent. (The purple candle of Hope is lit.)
Reader 2: We kindle it with hope. We long for you to come to our world, to break through and reign with compassion, justice, and peace.
Reader 1: The prophet Isaiah also cried to God to tear open heaven and come down. He called God’s people to do right. Isaiah called them to be refashioned like clay by God, the potter. This Advent, we call out to God.
All: Mighty God, creator of the world, break through all that keeps us from you. We ask for your mercy and reform us in your image. This Advent, visit us with your justice, love, and peace. Amen.
All (sing): Shine on us, O God of justice;
Guide our path through gloom of night;
Bear within us Wisdom’s glory;
Come to us, O Christ the Light.
(Sung Response to the tune of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” number 626 in the United Methodist Hymnal)
We believe that God always answers prayer and answers our calls. Yet we also recognize that we must respond to God in turn. So, during this time, we invite God to join us and we encourage one another to respond to God accordingly. Feel free to read along with the response below:
Leader: God of the now and the yet to be, we come to this worship service in anticipation and breathlessness. We are breathless from last-minute Christmas shopping and family dinner preparations. We are on the edge of time between the barrenness of autumn and the bright white of winter. We are on the edge of expectant pregnancy and new birth. We are on the edge of the joy of anticipation and the fear of facing the unknown. We are at the edge of the seriousness of Advent and the joy of Christmas. Help us not to fear being on the edge of newness and change; help us to hear your words of blessing and hope, comfort, and peace, so that we may worship you in this time together. Amen.
At UJCC, we value young families and children. So, whenever we have family worship, we try to make short, fun, educational videos or skits in order to be more inclusive of our younger audience. Feel free to enjoy this material with your kids and talk about it later too!
Sermon - "A Faithful Response”
We believe God still speaks to us today through the Bible, people, and many other sources as well. As a result, we will listen to Pastor Ivana and try to discern what God is trying to tell us through her message. Feel free to listen, take notes, or meditate on something that stuck out to you. Here is the passage we will be reading from today:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Song of Reflection - “My Tribute”
It is our responsibility to respond to God’s message. So, the song after the sermon gives us a little more time to digest God’s message and think about how we can respond appropriately. So, feel free to meditate on the message, pray, or simply enjoy the music.
Joys and Concerns
We believe God hears and answers our prayers. Not only that, but we believe in praying together so that we can encourage and support those going through difficult times, or celebrate our many blessings. For we are all God’s family. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. You are not alone. If you have any prayer requests, feel free to raise your hand until you are called upon. After each prayer request, we will say “O God of mercy” and everyone responds, “This is our prayer.” Finally, once all the prayer requests have been heard, we will close with a final prayer followed by the Lord’s prayer. If you do not know the Lord’s prayer, it will be up on the slideshow for you.
We will first sing the doxology in English and then in Japanese.
The announcements provide opportunities for us to put our faith into action throughout the week. Please try to see if anything interests you or challenge yourself to try something new. Volunteering is a great way to bless others, but we are often blessed ourselves in the process. You can check all the current announcements at www.ujcclife.com/events
Song of Sending - "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
The song of sending forth prepares our hearts to go back out into the world. You can use this song as a final opportunity to decide how to respond to the message, pray for God’s guidance, sing along, or simply enjoy the music.
Benediction is another word for blessing. It is a short prayer said in order to bless everyone as we get ready to go back out into the world. Feel free to close your eyes and receive the blessing so that you may be strengthened and encouraged!
Postlude - "God Almighty We are Waiting”
This is the final ending song for the worship service. Once the song is finished, feel free to talk to someone new, attend our small group, or make your way safely back home.