Liturgy 12-17-2017

This blog is a record of the call to worship, Scripture readings, and prayers from our Sunday liturgies.  If you are interested in writing something for the liturgy, or if you have a concern about any aspect of our liturgy, please email

Call to Worship

we have gathered to learn to wait
for a light in the darkness

to take up the Joy
of all things being made new

to step into God’s story

and be transformed by it

into people whose stories bear
wonder, hope, peace, and joy

and who join with God
in the re-Creation of the world











Joy Candle Liturgy

In directing our attention to the Light that God is giving us, we are captured by Joy.  This joy is neither fleeting, nor is it limited to the range of emotions that we might call “happy.” Instead, Joy is a way of seeing where we stubbornly refuse to call the way things are “the way things will always be.” It’s a way of seeing that looks back to look forward, knowing that God is still working to reconcile all things to Godself. With this in mind, we light the third candle.

[Light Joy Candle]

Hear now of the Lord coming into the darkness of Exile to lead us home in Isaiah 35:1-10.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
   the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
   and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
   the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
   the majesty of our God. 
Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees. 
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
   ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
   He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
   He will come and save you.’ 
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
   and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
   and streams in the desert; 
the burning sand shall become a pool,
   and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
   the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 
A highway shall be there,
   and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
   but it shall be for God’s people;
   no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. 
No lion shall be there,
   nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
   but the redeemed shall walk there. 
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
   and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
   they shall obtain joy and gladness,
   and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 


Isaiah 61:1-11

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
    foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines;
but you shall be called priests of the Lord,
    you shall be named ministers of our God;
you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations,
    and in their riches you shall glory.
Because their shame was double,
    and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot,
therefore they shall possess a double portion;
    everlasting joy shall be theirs.

For I the Lord love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

Luke 1:46-55:

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

ubc advent songs: joy (brightest)

Earlier this semester, I wrote a song for each week of Advent.  My friends at Canowan in Austin invited me to their church to record video sessions of them as a part of a series of Christmas song videos they're making.   We'll sing one of these each week during Advent, and I'll be posting the videos here.  If you want to check out some of the other songs my friends recorded for this project, they'll be posting four songs each week of this month here.

This song is called "Brightest," and it was written for the Joy week. If you have any questions, email me at


is this fear or joy, and what is the difference?
there's a change coming on the wind
my God, it's electric
the skin on the back of my neck is needles and stitches
like there's a New Light among the stars, just out of my vision

what Joy could come from darkness
and not destroy the place we've made?
like if the candle we called Brightest
suddenly fell in the hay

is this love or death, and what is the difference?
there's a change coming to the scales
my God, it's infectious
the veins on the back of my eyes are straining and pulsing
like there's a New Light among the stars that I can't behold yet

what Joy could come from darkness
and not destroy the place we've made?
like if the candle we called Brightest
suddenly fell in the hay

this is the moment that everything changes
and all of our fears find the peace they've been chasing
and all of our comforts shatter like mirrors
caught in a Light like has never been seen here
the mountains, they crumble
chasms, they shade them
and all of our answers grow into questions
when the feeble, like lions, are freed from their cages
and the mighty are pulled from the places they're saving

this is joy, unspeakable joy