This Weeks Sermon


 December 5, 2021
ORDER OF WORSHIP                                                           December 5, 2021 ● 10:00 am 

Second Sunday of Advent
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, YOU are welcome here.

PRELUDE                          Improvisation on “Hymn Tune: Morning Song”           Jan Bordeleau

WELCOME                                                                                                   Rev. Brian Donovan

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING “GOD MOMENTS”  
                                       
PASSING OF THE PEACE


*CALL TO WORSHIP                                                                            Beverly Reed-Arsenault
One:  To thee, I will be always true
          As You are more than Love’s hue
          You are ALL that Love can be
          The Source  – the Breath –
          The Guide – leading me!
          Everything else is but a glimmer
          Of the Glorious Love You freely surrender 
ALL:   May all people now come – together as one
           To worship and praise the Divine Love
           We call God.      


*OPENING HYMN (NCH #119)       “My Soul Gives Glory to My God” vs 1,3,4,5     FCC Choir

*OPENING PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER (Unison)
Loving God, prepare us for Your Son and invoke within us the Eternal Light of Your Love. For, our hearts have become burdened with enemies, blame, and regret. Yet, we hear Your call to Love and seek to be ready for our Christ. So, help us God and grant Your gifts of Love upon all of us, all people, and all of Creation. The gifts of Love which You reveal through Jesus who taught us that You are: 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.  
                                                                   
*GLORIA PATRI
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, World without end. Amen.


LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLE         Laura & Niamh Edwards, Melissa Maas & Mya Maas-Kiseal
One:  With prayers of Hope, we gather to light the second candle of Advent – the candle of Love. Yet before we do, let us remember that it is through God’s Love, we are created – we are forgiven – and we are held together as one Beloved fellowship. It is this Love for all humankind which God invites us to welcome into our lives throughout the Advent season. 
ALL:   “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust” (PS 25: 1-2)
One:    Let us recall the words of the Apostle from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (2:3-5 NIV):
“Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
ALL:    “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths” (PS 25: 4)
One:     And also, his words from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (1: 9 -11 NRSV) 
“this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full              insight to help you to determine what is best so that in the day of Christ you may be                  pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through            Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” 
ALL:    “you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long” (PS. 25:5)
One:   We light this candle to welcome God’s Light of Love into each of our lives – this day, this season, and throughout this life. (Light the second candle)
 
Would you now rise in body and or spirit as we pray together:
 
ALL:    Holy God, who sent Your Light into the world in the flesh of Jesus, send Your light into our lives once more. Teach us – guide us – prepare us for Your kin-dom to come. Fill us with Your Divine Light of Love, O God, so we may endure the long wait patiently and become Your Light for the world. In You we trust and pray. Amen.

*ADVENT SONG (back of hymnal, vs 2)                   
                                                             
SCRIPTURE                        Luke 1:68-79                                              Beverly Reed-Arsenault

SERMON                            “Forgiving Love”                                               Rev. Brian Donovan

**CHOIR ANTHEM             “Mary Did You Know”                                                   FCC Choir                                                                                   

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE                                                                   Rev. Brian Donovan

OFFERTORY

*DOXOLOGY
  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; 
  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost 


*PRAYER OF DEDICATION (Unison)
Holy God who welcomes all people into one whole and loving fellowship through Your Son (our Christ) and Your Holy Spirit, accept these gifts of our time, talent, and treasure that we willingly offer to You. Bless all that is given and use these gifts to inspire Your Mission and the ministries of this Beloved community. Also, we humbly pray that You sanctify the lives of All people who receive and give these gifts, as each person who participates in the sharing of themselves is an example of Your Compassionate Holy Love. In the name of Christ, who revealed the Way.  Amen.


THE SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION

COMMUNION HYMN(NCH#329)        “Jesus, the Joy of Loving Hearts”                   FCC Choir

PRAYER OF CONFESSION (Unison)
One:   God of Salvation, hear our prayer:
           When we choose hate – instead of Love
All:     Forgive us
One:   When we choose revenge – instead of Mercy
All:     Forgive us
One:   When we choose blame – instead of Forgiveness
All:    Forgive us, O God, and may our broken actions and inactions be made whole through the Light of Your Forgiving Love. We pray that You, Holy One, will grant us this gift of Your Holy Salvation, once more. So, we may witness Your Forgiving Love in action and thereby learn how to become better examples of Your Holy Love, for the world. In the name of Your Son, our Christ who revealed the Way of Salvation, we pray. Amen

PURPOSE OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF SALEM
Our purpose is to invite others into a community of Christian love in which they can discover and choose a relationship with Jesus Christ, grow in faith and be mobilized for service in His Church, dedicated to sharing God’s gracious “yes” to all.


PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING (Unison) 
Holy God, thank you for making us whole once more through this Holy Sacrament; for uniting us together as one just kin-dom through Your Holy Spirit; for the life and sacrifice of our Christ – Your Son. In the celebration of this bread and this cup – we remember that  You are the source of all Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love, the sources of life which the world cannot provide alone. In Your Holy name, we gratefully pray.  Amen.

*CLOSING HYMN (NCH #43)
        “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” vs. 1,3           FCC Choir

BENEDICTION 

POSTLUDE                               Improvisation on “Hymn Tune: Beecher”           Jan Bordeleau   SCRIPTURE                                                                                                                                 
Luke 1:68-79
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 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, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Quote of the Day
“Forgiveness is manifested mercy; it is live in action – not love based on a feeling, but love based on a decision, an intentional choice to obey God.”
– Joyce Meyer

“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.'”
                                                                                                          -Maya Angelou
**The ANTHEM is a gift of praise offered by the choir to allow the congregation a time of meditation and reflection. 
Hymns are from the New Century Hymnal, Copyright © 1995 The Pilgrim Press. Permission is granted for this one-time use.
Choir Anthem “Mary Did You Know” is published by Hope Publishing, ©1991 and ©1998 by Word Music and Rufus Music (admin. By Gaither Copyright Management). Permission is granted by OneLicense for this one-time use.
Hymn “Advent Candle Song” is from The Faith We Sing Hymnal. ©1973 by Mary Lu Walker. Permission is granted for this one-time use.
                        
My Soul Gives Glory to My God (NCH#119)
My soul gives glory to my God.
My heart pours out in praise.
God lifted up my lowliness
in many marvelous ways.

From age to age, to all who fear,
Such mercy love imparts,
dispensing justice far and near,
dismissing selfish hearts.

Love casts the mighty from their thrones,
Promotes the insecure,
leaves hungry spirits satisfied,
the rich seem suddenly poor.

Praise God, whose loving covenant
supports those in distress,
remembering past promises
with present faithfulness.

Light the Advent Candle
Light the Advent candle, two:
Think of humble shepherds, who
filled with wonder at the sight
of the child of Christmas night. Refrain

Refrain
Candle, candle, burning bright,
shining in the cold winter night;
candle, candle, burning bright,
fill our hearts with Christmas light.
 
Jesus, the Joy of Loving Hearts (NCH#329)
Jesus, the joy of loving hearts,
fount of our lives, and light of all:
From every bliss that earth imparts
we turn, unfilled, to hear your call.

Your truth unchanged has ever stood;
you plead with all to call on you;
To those still seeking, you are good;
to those who find you, life is new.

We taste of you, the living bread,
and long to feast upon you still;
We drink of you, the fountain-head;
our thirsty souls from you we fill.

For you our restless spirits yearn,
where’er our changing lot is cast;
Glad, when your smile on us you turn,
blessed, when by faith we hold you fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay!
Make all our moments calm and bright!
Oh, chase the cloud of sin away!
Shed o’er the world your holy light.

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (NCH#43)
Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, on earth be found,
Fix in us a humble dwelling, all your faithful mercies crown;
Jesus, you are all compassion; pure, unbounded love impart.
Visit us with your salvation, enter every trembling heart.

Come, almighty to deliver, let us all your life receive;
Suddenly return, and never, nevermore your temples leave.
You we would be always blessing, love you as your angels love,
Pray and praise for your unfailing, wounded arms outstretched above.
 
“My Soul Gives Glory to My God,”  Elkanah Kelsay Dare / Miriam Therese Winter
© 1995, Pilgrim Press, All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-739577. All rights reserved
 
“Advent Song (Light the Advent Candle),” Mary Lu Walker
© 2000, Abingdon Press, All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-739577. All rights reserved
 
“Mary Did You Know,” Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry
©1998, Hope Publishing, All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-739577. All rights reserved
 
“Jesus the Joy of Loving Hearts,”  Henry W. Baker / Bernard of Clairvaux
© 1995, Pilgrim Press, All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-739577. All rights reserved
 
“Love Divine All Loves Excelling,”  John Zundel / Charles Wesley
© 1995, Pilgrim Press, All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-739577. All rights reserved
  Hymns are from the New Century Hymnal, Copyright © 1995 The Pilgrim Press. Permission is granted for this one-time use.

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Pastor’s Letter Dec. 1, 2021

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

  • Mark 12:30-31(NRSV)

Good afternoon Beloved,

I pray that you are all well and experiencing ALL the Love God has to offer in this blessed season of Advent. Love though, as we all know, has so many different ways that it can be experienced. It is the feeling that we have for our significant others. The feeling that we have for our children and for our friends. It can even be the feeling that we have for things like ice cream or a Baconator. Yet in all these ways, we are only describing the feeling of love in our heart, or maybe that which lies in the mind and soul. But none of these various ways truly describe the depth of love we are called to exhibit in “all (of our) strength.” To Love God “with all your strength” includes our bodies. We can understand this idea as the love we reveal through our actions and service to God’s Mission. It is like when our friends gather to help the SonShine Soup kitchen or the Beloved who are learning about Open and Affirming. Basically, it is the idea of showing God’s Love in everything we do, think, and feel. 

This Beloved is actually easier said than done. Yet, sometimes an opportunity comes along to show our love for all humankind with all of our strength. An opportunity which we did not know existed. An opportunity to be the very light of love for another human being in the midst of darkness. Our own beloved Amy Chartrain has brought this opportunity to us this week which I feel exemplifies what it means to be a Christian who loves God with all our strength.

For come to find out, there is a foster home in Lawrence for young girls (ages 13-18). These girls come from troubled homes. Many of their parents are either incarcerated or are formerly incarcerated. Rather than risk going back and forth into many foster homes, the children have chosen to live here. This location alone is a gift of care and love to the least among us as the directors are working at making this place even better. Some improvements include a home gym space so the girls can incorporate activity into their daily routine. However, their upbringing and situations have also made them vulnerable to the worst kind of predators. Those who prey on the children.

As such, these young women have been lured to parties and the subsequent sex trafficking of their bodies through the offer of a new pair of sneakers. Yes, sneakers – predators in our neighboring Lawrence are using sneakers to force children into a life of human trafficking. These horrible crimes must stop and I pray the police find everyone who is guilty. Yet, beloved this darkness also reveals the very way we – you and I – can reveal the love of God with our strength. We can help in this Advent season by taking away the lure. By making one child’s life a little safer from these predators with one 20-dollar gift card to Foot Locker.

Therefore, I hope you will join me in procuring some gift cards and bringing them to worship on December 12th where these gifts of our love will be offered and received. If you have any questions, please ask either me or Amy.

This said, revealing our love can be that easy at times . It can be that easy to give a card but it requires beloved disciples like Amy to reveal the need, to love God and people with all her strength, to bring the darkness into the light of Christ. It requires a discerning mind and the strength to step forward and lead the way. The strength to say, “NO,” when injustices are happening. So, we may end the darkness together. This is part of the love we are all called to do and one way we fulfill the Mission of God.

I feel blessed to witness a beloved disciple loving with all of her strength, thank you Amy. For, you are an example of loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. I pray we all witness this example and seek with all of our strength to love God by loving one another throughout the season of Advent.

May your week be full of all the Love God has to offer

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.

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