Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Monday, November 30, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Be a Faithful Disciple 




NOVEMBER 29th, 2020
The First Sunday of Advent


Welcome & Invitation to Worship

Call to Worship                         
The time of waiting and watching is here! Are you ready?
We are waiting for the Lord of peace to open our hearts.
The Lord of Peace comes to you this day to free you from your sins.
We are ready to receive the precious blessings of God.
Come, let us worship God who loves us dearly.
Let us praise God for God’s blessings in our lives. AMEN

Worship in Song                                             O Come All Ye Faithful                                       234

[Lighting the Advent Wreath]

ALL: "O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear!"

Pastor: ... Watch and wait for Christ’s coming! Today is the first Sunday of Advent, The word Advent means “coming,” and we are anticipating the coming of Christ into the world. We light the first candle of Advent, the candle of Hope. Today we think about HOPE. God’s people spent a long time waiting and hoping for the Savior, the Messiah, that God promised.

The prophet Isaiah cried out for us, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down … To make your name known … so that nations might tremble at your presence.” So tear through the mess, O Lord, and come down to us again. We long to be your people, a people of hope.

We light this first candle as a sign of our hope. Hope that you can meet us, even in the mess of our world. Hope that you still see us, though we feel we are lost in the rubble. Let this light be the guide that brings us to Emmanuel once more.

Jesus is our hope. He is our Light. He is our Redeemer, and Savior.

As we wait for the birth of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our source of hope in the world.

Also, we remember that we are called as a people of hope, and the darkness will not overcome us.
ALL: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We rejoice in your coming.

Old Testament Reading                                                                                     Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Worship with Tithes & Offerings

Prayer of the People


New Testament Reading                                                                            1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Message                           Advent: A Season of Preparation I                      Matthew 1:18-25

I hope you had wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. Did you eat enough turkey?

As you know, today is the first Sunday of Advent. I was really surprised that the fact it is already Advent; the time goes so fast and mutable. I think some of you’ve probably started your lists, maybe even started decorating the house. Even during a pandemic, all the signs are there that Advent and Christmas is coming!

How do you think, are you ready for Christmas? I think we are just not ready yet. Especially, this year we have a Advent and Christmas along with the situation of the pandemic. It is really challenging us and changing many part of our Holiday season; however, it is not changed Christmas, Jesus' birthday, is coming. It is not changed that Jesus came to the earth to save us and to be with us. That is why we are still rejoicing as Christmas is coming. And, the time of advent helps us to prepare it.

In fact, one of my brothers birthday is today; however, I had forgotten it. Of course, I knew his birthday but I didn't recognized that his birthday was coming. But, fortunately, my sister reminded me few days ago then I was hurry to prepare his birthday gift on time. I appreciate to my sister for reminding me. I don't want to miss celebrating for my beloved baby brother's birthday.

We also know that Christmas is Jesus' birthday; however, sometimes we forget it is coming and its meaning in our lives due to our busy and stressful lives. I think Advent is to remind us that Jesus' birth and coming and its meaning and to let us prepare it with our heart and lives.

Yes, we need preparation for Christmas, which is celebrating Jesus' coming. Think, if you open your best friend's birthday party in your home, you can't just wait for the day of birthday and the guests including the birthday fiend coming without anything preparing. Right? you need to prepare for the birthday party in your home- you make a list of what to do including grocery shopping, cooking,  cleaning house, decoration, and so on. It should be much more you need to do more preparing as you Jesus' birthday party is held in your heart. "Advent: A Season of Preparation" that is the title of the series sermon during this Advent. Let us prepare the celebrating Jesus' coming together.

The waiting for Jesus' coming was also accounted in the Old Testament. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the people of Israel were preparing for the arrival of a Savior as well. God had promised them that God would send someone to deliver them, to save them; especially they were ruled under the Roman Empire. The Jews were eagerly awaiting this King/ Messiah though they didn’t understand who God would send, as it turned out.

Let’s look at some of clues in the Old Testaments.

Isaiah 7:14 says "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." and

Isaiah 9: 6-7, which was today's Old Testament reading, "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." And

Jeremiah 33:14-16,"The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. "'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.'"

Before Jesus was born, the people of Israel were preparing for the arrival of a Savior and our faithful God fulfilled that promise and sent Jesus Christ; HOWEVER, many Israelite, the Jewish, of Jesus' time did not know who he really was. I think that is sad. They were not recognize the ONE who they had been looking forward to and waiting for eagerly for a long time.

Do you remember the meaning of the first Advent candle? "HOPE." Traditionally, the theme of the first Sunday of Advent is Hope. I think it is the one we most need recently; many of us have hoped that the vaccine and treatment of COVID would come up soon and the pandemic would be finished soon. We "Hope" that. Hope is a vision for better days that changes us in the present.

Back to the passages we read from the Old Testament, we also can see the hope of the Israelite. They were waiting for the savior who could gave them better day. And, that is also many people in our time are also waiting for.

We said, Jesus is our savior and messiah. Does he really change your life better right now? Maybe some people expect Jesus drop the vaccine from the heaven, but he does not. Still do you think he really change your life better?

Surprisingly, Yes, he does. He changes our lives better way. If you've really opened your heart to Jesus, he will give you a vision of better days; he will give you the joy of your days in present and future. As an example, as you accept Jesus and Jesus is in your hearts and lives, you can get the hope of life and eternal life, hope of healing, hope of reconciliation, and so on. Today's passage also tells us the great message of HOPE, Immanuel, God is with us.

You can call on the name of the Lord and receive and enter into the promise of better days as a children of God. That is the good news of the Gospel. The power of God is available today, not just for some distant future. God's beautiful future has already begun, and you can have a taste of it today in your hearts and lives. When you call on the name of Jesus, you can experience the better days as he is working and touching you in your lives. That is our Hope and that is the one Jesus Christ who we are waiting for with praising in this season.

As we enter a season of hope, anticipation, and preparing, we remember the reasonableness of hope that comes through Jesus Christ, who is the reason of this season. Born in humility, Jesus reaches out to us offering hope. Hope of a relationship with God that is renewed and whole, making possible whole and healthy relationships with one another. Through this relationship we have the reasonable expectation that things will be even better than okay. We can entrust our hearts, our lives, our hopes and our dreams to a God who loved us enough to send his Son to us at Christmas time. This truly is a season of hope. And that is why we exciting preparing Jesus' arrival even in uncertain and frustrating time.

I think especially this year we need ADVENT, which is the time we preparing with hope and for hope, more. We feel less festival mood of Holiday season this year and many people are overwhelmed and stressed out due to the long on-going pandemic. Also, many people have concern that how this Christmas would be. Yes, our time seems hard to have hope and to be joyful like other Advent season; however, it is not changing truth that Jesus loves us and gives us hope in our lives.

Advent is all about waiting. We are waiting for Jesus Christ, our Hope, love, and peace, and preparing his coming. I hope it’s not an empty waiting; but preparation. As I illustrated about preparing a birthday party, we should prepare our heart for Jesus' arrival. I mean this Jesus' arrival/coming is not only Jesus' birth 2000 years ago but also Jesus' coming in your heart and life and Jesus' second coming as well.

As the first Sunday of Advent, I've talked about the reason of the preparation. You don't want to preparing the party without knowing whose birthday and why you need to preparing it. Even though we have been busy and confused because of so many distractions and concerns in the world or even  though you feel emptiness and hopeless, JESUS, who is the reason of this season, is still to fill our hearts with hope, peace, joy, and love. Let us prepare our heart for Jesus' arrival during this season of Advent.

During Advent, as we wait for Baby Jesus and prepare for Christmas, we should commit to thinking about the reason of this season and the hope and love of Jesus Christ as a presents in our presence.

Let us join the prayer of preparation.

"Almighty God, you pour out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and supplication. Deliver us, as we come into your presence, from cold hearts and wandering thoughts, that with steady minds and burning zeal we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Worship in Response                         Come Thou Long Expected                                    196



Prayer of Dismissal & Blessing