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INTROIT HYMN #91                                       Come, Come Emmanuel

Reader 1: Await (light the first candle). Awake (light the second candle).
Reader 2: Jesus said: “Keep awake for you don’t know when the
master of the house will come: in the evening, or at
midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn.”
Women: We want to stay awake, but we get tired and distracted.
Men: We want to stay awake, but we get frustrated and depressed.
Reader 1: Keep awake.
ALL: It’s been over 2000 years since the coming of Christ. It feels
like not much has changed. People are still looking out for
themselves… still treating others with judgment and disdain.
Reader 2: Keep awake.
ALL: What lasting difference did Jesus make? See how neighbors
ignore neighbors in need, strangers fear one another, and
enemies invest in bigger guns. The news is so bad
sometimes we turn it off and go to bed.
Reader 1: Keep awake.
Women: Is it really worth it?
Reader 2: Keep awake.
Men: Will things really be made new?
Reader 1: Keep awake… don’t miss it… it’s happening even now… involving you and me. Open your eyes and see.
Reader 2: Jesus said: “Keep awake for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Reader 1: Let us pray: Keep us ready, keep us alert, keep us prepared,
keep us watching, keep us awake, we pray, for your kingdom is coming and is already here, dawning in our midst, through our hearts, by your spirit, in spite of ourselves. Can we see it? Can we be it?
Amen and amen.
OPENING HYMN #107                            Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn




OFFERTORY                                             Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
arr. Lloyd Larson, St. Andrews Choir

HYMN #606                                             Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow


SCRIPTURE                                                 Esther, Spark Story Bible
Children are invited to help read the story

Today, O God, we ponder what you say to us through scripture and wonder what has changed. In the story of Esther, we hear about the abuse of power and the exploitation of women. We learn about the planned destruction of foreigners in the land. Each of these issues concern the use of power to take advantage of those who are powerless – major causes still of people being denied the possibility of experiencing lives of dignity and worth.
Forgive us if our actions, or lack of action,
have contributed to continuing powerlessness in people’s lives.
All around us today we hear people making decisions about “who’s in” and “who’s out” among Jesus’ followers. It sounds all too familiar as we often make similar decisions on the basis of people’s theology; their sexual orientation; their cultural background; or their political stance.
Forgive us if our actions, or lack of action,
have contributed to whether people feel welcomed into,
or excluded from, our fellowship.
Jesus declares that those who are welcoming and caring and do not cause others to stumble, are indeed blessed. We are to be ‘salted’ with the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit, so that we shall not be contaminated by selfishness and self-seeking, by resentment and anger and envy.
Forgive us if our actions, or lack of action,
have contributed to whether we are “salty” followers of Jesus or not.
Strengthen us all to witness to our faith
with a freshness that attracts;
a sincerity that convinces,
and an integrity which confirms our allegiance to Christ.
silence is kept

James entreats us to “confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that we may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
We have confessed our sins to one another, and to God,
and we believe that prayer is powerful and effective.
In Jesus Christ we are healed and forgiven.
Thanks be to God! ~ written by Moira Laidlaw, and posted on Liturgies Online.

HYMN #646                                    Sing Out, My Soul

The peace of the Lord be with you. And also with you.

SERMON For Such a Time As This

HYMN #362                                       Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers

The Lord’s Prayer
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.



HYMN #92                                         While We Are Waiting, Come (v.2)

You are invited to sit quietly through the postlude, reflecting on the experiences of worship today. What moved you? What will you carry with you as you leave?
May this week be a blessing to you and through you to others.


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