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  • Rev. Daniel Benson

Advent One: Hope is our Star.

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Welcome to Advent - the weeks leading to Christmas. It's a time of preparation, waiting, and praying. Possibly, Advent is the perfect remedy for these challenging times when our anxiety is high, our morale is low, and the pressure of Christmas expectations in the midst of uncertainty is incalculable.

In the midst of all this as we wait for the Birth of the Holy Child, we can pause:

"Be Still. Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46.

The weeks of Advent are named for gifts God blesses us with: hope, peace, joy, and love; gifts that God dreams we can embrace through a deep encounter with Emmanuel, God with Us. This first week is named for Hope, a star that shines in the night. This beautiful rendition of the first verse of 'Hope is a Star' is sung by Elise, Liane, and Alexandra Catibog.

Remember always, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor masks nor viruses, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

(with apologies to Paul and the Romans for this paraphrase).

Rev. Dan.

In preparation for the following service, you may wish to have your Advent Wreath and Candles ready. Always practice safe candle-burning! We always light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God, and during Advent, we light candles to mark the path of anticipation and preparation leading to Christmas.

Music for centering:

This hymn, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,' is the very first hymn in our hymnbook, Voices United, because it is the perfect Advent Carol. It reflects the longing and anticipation for the arrival of Christ, of 'Emmanuel,' an alternative name for Jesus, that translated means 'God with us.' If you like Golden Oldies, this is certainly one of them: originally a 9th Century antiphon, it was translated from the Latin in 1851 by John Neale, and music is based on a 15th Century plainsong melody. The choir of King's College Cambridge does it justice.


We want to be ready for the coming of Jesus;

be with us, Loving God.

We want to be ready for the coming of Jesus;

remind us to look out for the needs of family, friends, and strangers.

We want to be ready for the coming of Jesus;

show us what we can give to the life of this community.

We want to be ready for the coming of Jesus;

alert us to the crying needs of the world that pleads for our support.

Guide us in nourishing our spirits with calm and quiet waiting.

Make us act with compassion for ourselves, the broken, the downtrodden and downhearted.

Help us express our eagerness to be your hands and feet in the world, for you have no body but ours to do your work.

We want to be ready for the coming of Jesus.

We are ready.

O come, o come, Emmanuel, Lord Jesus, God with us. Come.

We are, indeed, ready.


God be with you!

Lighting of the Advent candle.

Gwen reads from the Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

Some of us will have met Moderator Richard Bott at our joint service with other Scarborough congregations at the beginning of Lent. And now, here we are at the beginning of Advent! Richard's reflection here is about the timeliness and the timelessness of the moment in which we find ourselves. Amid the uncertainty that surrounds us, we find ourselves on the precipice of the absolute certain in-breaking of God in Jesus.



We place our hope in these gifts, gracefully given, Loving God; and, you place your hope in us as the gifts are used.

Our hope for skills and talents well used.

Our hope for loneliness, compassionately overcome.

Our hope for worship, faithfully offered.

Our hope for neighbourhood needs, joyfully met.

Our hope for justice, built brick by brick.

With these gifts come our commitment to follow and serve the Way of Jesus, and so we ask God's blessing on these gifts, on us, and on the witness we offer in God's name.

Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continues:

  • Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;

  • Mail your cheque to the church;

  • Go on PAR (call the church for details);

  • Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).

May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered, be instruments of change and instrumental in God's mission in the world!


Prayer. You're invited to listen to the Advent Prayer on the video below, after which, you can recite aloud or in your heart the Lord's Prayer.

And, of all the prayers silent and spoken, we pray the one prayer that unites us in your presence:

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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.

Music: Jesus is known as "The Light of the World,' so it seems fitting as we enter into the season of Advent, a period when the days grow shorter and the nights longer, that we sing and pray for the return of the light... and of the Light.

"Let There Be Light," by Frances Davis and Robert Fleming (1968), VU 679.


Live hopefully as you leave this time of Advent worship, for we believe that the Good News of Jesus' imminent arrival will find, within us, hope beyond imagining.

We will meet one another with hope and compassion.

We will trust with hope and faithfulness.

We will give with hope and generosity.

We will proclaim the God's grace with hope and confidence.

We will be an Advent people: waiting, watching, and preparing with hope.


One Last Thought. Curious about what Advent is about (even though you've sat through a bunch of Advent Services and all that candle lighting over the years)? Here's a 2 minute explanation courtesy of 'Broken Halo.' It's a Catholic slant on Advent, but there's really not that much different from what we as United Church people do. Notably, many protestant churches now use four blue candles instead of the traditional 3 purple and one pink. But, that's hardly enough to quibble about.

Closing notes:

  • Don’t forget to extinguish your candle(s)

  • Note that portions of this service are drawn and adapted from 'Gathering,' a worship resource published by The United Church of Canada.

  • Thanks to our contributors this week: Gwen Farrow, the Catibog Trio, Strathroy United Church, and Moderator Richard Bott.

  • Join friends for coffee after church!

Topic: Sunday Coffee

Time: Nov 29, 2020 11:30 AM America/Toronto

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