O The Places We Will Go
Sunday November 28, 2021
O The Places You’ll Go
Welcome and Introduction
So welcome to our Dr. Seuss Advent! Each week we will be exploring a different Dr. Seuss story and looking at how we see, reflected in those stories, the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. This week is the first Sunday of Advent and we begin with the theme of Hope. The Dr. Seuss story we begin with is the very last one he ever wrote before his death in 1991. O The Places You’ll Go.
Much of our service, although not all, will be offer in Seuss style rhyme. So, as we prepare to worship God let’s begin with our introit and our call to worship.
Introit (Tune MV#178)
Christmas is coming, but it’s not here yet.
Advent, it calls us, to prepare.
We don’t prepare with gift or our greeting.
But when we welcome Christ right here.
Call to Worship:
Advent has started and no one can know
Where it will lead us or where we will go.
But one thing is certain trust me when I say
It’s leading us forward, toward Christmas Day.
But the journey’s important don’t rush to the end
Or you’ll miss all the lessons that Advent can send.
So as we get ready to start on our way
Let’s worship our God on this first Advent Day.
Advent Candle Lighting
Advent 1 – O the places you’ll go and the things you will find
When Advent and Christmas are held in your mind.
As hope springs anew with the first candle light
We remember that scripture calls us to new sight.
We wait and we watch but we also prepare
For God’s gift of a Saviour we’re all called to share.
As this candle is lit and the flame sparks and glows
We know Christmas awaits us, and so our hope grows.
(light first blue candle)
Advent Prayer – Divine One we greet you this first Advent Day
(in unison) And pray you will hear now the words that we say,
Be with us today and through each day to come
Give hope to sustain us when life seems too glum.
As we prepare for Emmanuel
Remind us the Good News of Christmas to tell. Amen.
Gift of Music O Lord, How Shall I Meet You #31
Theme Story O The Places You’ll Go
Scripture Readings Sirach 2:1-6 Romans 8:24-27
Our first scripture reading today is taken from the book of Sirach which is part of the Apocrypha, the books of the Bible generally found between what we have commonly called the Old Testament and the New Testament. They appear in some but not all translations of the Bible. The passage we will hear today is a beautiful passage that reminds us that hope does not depend on what is happening around us but rather on our reliance on God
My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test. Be sincere and determined. Keep calm when trouble comes. Stay with the Lord; never abandon him, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient. Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation. Trust the Lord, and he will help you. Walk straight in his ways, and put your hope in him.
Our second reading is from the Letter to the Romans. It reminds us that hope is not a tangible thing that we can touch or hold but rather it something in which we must simply place our trust.
For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.
O The Hope That You’ll Find
I want to share something with you this morning that I read recently. It was written by James Moore, a pastor with the United Methodist Church in the US. This is what he had to say.
I had a fascination, thought-provoking experience on an airplane recently. I was seated beside a woman who had never flown before. She was absolutely delightful! She was like a little child – so thrilled, so excited and so exhilarated to be on an airplane for the very first time. She was the epitome of wide-eyed wonder.
“I’ve never flown before,” she said to me. “I’m sixty-two years old, and this is my first time on an airplane. Isn’t it wonderful? Just think, this huge, heavy plane with all these people and all this cargo will actually fly through the sky. It’s amazing!”
She tested her seat belt several times. She checked and rechecked the reading lamp above her. She located all the emergency exits and pointed them out to me. She became especially animated when she saw her luggage glide up the ramp and into the plane. She found the safety procedure instruction card in the pouch on the back of the seat in front of her and read it out loud – twice! When the flight attendants stood in the aisle and gave their instructions, she took notes!
But then I looked around. What do you think the other people on the plane were doing? They were sleeping, thumbing through magazines, reading novels, working on lap-top computers or playing games on their phones.
Most of the other passengers looked either bored or preoccupied. You know why, don’t you? They were “frequent flyers”! They had been down this road before, so there was nothing new or fresh or exciting about it.
This “frequent-flyer syndrome” is dangerous. It can desensitize us and dampen our spirit. It can rob us of the vitality and joy of life and lull us into a spiritual lethargy.
After reading that, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us go through the holiday season caught up in this ‘frequent-flyer syndrome’? We get so busy with in all the things that we have to do and all the rush of shopping, baking, decorating and other preparations, that we end up missing the joy of the moment. We lose the excitement of the experience. We simply go through the motions and we end up failing to recognize the presence of the very one whose birth we celebrate.
The hope of Advent calls us to look around with the same wonder and excitement as that first-time airplane passenger. It calls us to set aside the routine and the familiar and to look instead at the possibilities of what might be.
This is where Dr Seuss’s O The Places You’ll Go seems to pick up this same theme of excited hope and anticipation. It’s not about simply trying to get through the day or about finding the best way to finish all the things you need to get done. It’s not about trying to meet someone else’s expectations or even about what we expect of ourselves. It’s about being willing to step out into the unknown, to take a risk and to not only trust that things will work out, but to be excited and open to the things you might experience along the way. It’s about the journey.
And for us, Advent is a journey. It is the journey we make each year as we prepare ourselves for Christmas and for what the birth of Christ means to us in our own lives. And the truth is, that all too often, we take this journey as ‘frequent flyers’ simply going through the motions that we go through every year and not taking the time to really explore what we might learn along the way.
Sometimes the joy and anticipation or the season fill us so completely that we find ourselves way out in the lead. We’re excited and ready for the wonder of Christmas to overwhelm us with feelings of love and joy. We feel the presence of Christ alive and active in our lives. We feel moved to share, to sing, to express our ‘Christmas Spirit’ and to simply celebrate the wonder of the journey.
But at other times the journey is not quite so easy. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. There are times that this season can be overwhelmingly frustrating. We can feel like there is so much to do and so little time to do it. We can feel like the financial demands on our budget are just more than we can manage. We can feel like there are so many things we would like to be able to do or like to be able to buy but we just can’t. And there are times when the reality of the season just doesn’t live up to what we had envisioned. For many people Christmas becomes, not a time of joy and celebration but a time of anxiety and of disappointment.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Unslumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
Seuss goes on to talk about the difficult times when you just can’t seem to feel motivated to do anything, when it just feels like you’re sitting there waiting for something to change. In many ways, this is far closer to the lead up to that first Christmas then the time of excitement and anticipation that we generally associate with this time of year. That first Christmas was a time when people seemed to have little hope. The political and religious powers of the time controlled everything. The demands placed on the ordinary people were often overwhelming. And God often seem to be far away, accessible only to those who knew the right rituals or who could afford to make the right sacrifices.
But then something happened. Hope came into the world again, this time in the form of a tiny baby, born to a poor family in an obscure town far from the halls of power. But in that child, or rather in the man that that child grew to become, people began to see for themselves that God was not some stern and distant sovereign, but rather a loving and caring presence that not only understood their struggles and shared those struggles with them.
This is the hope we talk about in Advent. Advent is the reminder that the hope, that came into the world to walk with us and to demonstrate the very nature of the divine, is still here. Each year we are reminded to renew that hope during the Advent season as we wait to commemorate the birth of that child.
And yes, there will be times we get hung up. There will be times of waiting. There will be times that are dark and scary. And there are times when everything seems to go wrong and we may even get mixed up with some very strange birds.
But if we hold on to that hope and if we keep looking forward with the excitement, the optimism, and the openness of that first-time flyer, we will find that this season of Advent will lead you not only to Christmas but to Christ … ninety-eight and three quarters percent guaranteed.
Our Advent journey has begun, so let’s get on our way, with excitement, with anticipation, with undaunted optimism and with the hope that was born and is reborn each year at this time. Amen.
Gift of Music A Light is Gleaming #82
We Offer Our Gifts
Invitation – The places we go and the things that we find,
Should always remind us to keep God in mind.
When we count all our blessings, the good things we’ve got
Please remind us to share them with those who have not.
So now let we offer whatever we can
Remembering God’s gifts to us, once again
One of the ways in which we respond to God’s love for us is to share what we have with others. In this church we do not pass the offering plates, but instead we invite people who would like to contribute financially to this church to place their gifts in the offering plates in the entryway. You can also arrange for donations to be made directly through Pre-Authorize Remittance, or to be made online if you prefer. But we stress that the financial contributions that people to make are only one way in which we can give. The gifts of your time or the sharing of our talents and abilities are just as important to this church and a valued every bit as much. So whatever it is that we are able to offer, financial or not, let us take a moment to ask God to bless it. Let us Pray.
Offertory Prayer – Dear God, who blesses us each day
Please bless our gifts, we humbly pray.
As you have blessed us, help us become
A blessing to all those in need from now on. Amen
Minute for Mission
Prayers of the People
Patient and loving God, how we must try your patience. We rush through the seasons of our lives as though we had a mighty schedule to keep. We plot out our days, minute by minute, crowding each moment with tasks, stresses and pressures. And we begin to notice the growing darkness and anxiety in our lives. We proclaim boldly each year that we will not let ourselves get so caught up in the commercial pressures and demands and yet, here we are, back in the same old trap of “not enough time; not enough energy”. The very plans we weave become bonds which imprison us.
Help us slow down and reflect on the many ways in which you bless us. Let us drink deeply of your hope and promise. Remind us again of the most precious gift of all is the gift of loving relationship between you and your Creation. Help us to cherish the people and the wondrous experiences that you offer us. Help us to be deeply grateful for what we have and help to never forget those who have less. And so now, in a moment of silence we remember all those who need our prayers, both here and around the world … As we have lifted before you our joys and concerns, we lift also our trust and our hope, placing all in your loving and compassionate care. We do all this, in the name of the one whose birth we once again await, Jesus the Christ, Child of Bethlehem, Emmanuel. Amen.
Closing Hymn May the God of Hope Go with Us #424
O the places you’ll go as you leave here today
Well, no one can know and nobody can say.
But the one thing we know with no doubt and no fear
Wherever we go, we know God is right there.
So go out today with the hope of this season
And always remember that Christ is the reason.
Choral Blessing (Tune MV#209)
Go now in hope, Advent offers hope.
Go take Christ’s hope into the world.
Go now in hope, take this Advent hope.
Go take Christ’s hope into the world.