The following liturgy video and podcast episode are part of FIRST UNITED’s Spiritual Care ministry’s Advent Awakening series.

Advent Series – JOY

Listen to the latest episode from An Uncomfortable Advent podcast series by Lauren Sanders, Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain, and Pastor Peter Sanders, Ordained Clergy with Presbyterian Church USA:

The Truth About Joy

Watch the Advent Awakening JOY video by Rev. Jennifer Goddard-Sheppard, Interim Spiritual Care Director:

On this Advent Sunday of Joy we hear, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me”
Where’s the joy? Who do we follow? What messengers are helping or hindering the way?
Where’s the joy? It’s in the hearts of the people! Can you see it? Can you feel it?
The joy shines through and is clearly expressed. I recall two wise women sharing their joy with me. One lives in the First United shelter and the other in First United Social Housing Residence. The light of joy shines in them as they express their joy of living. Even here in the midst of the despair in the community and on the streets, there is joy.
With joy, First United offers a ministry of presence to the people of the Downtown Eastside. Joy lives here!
Allow this gift to fill you with the delight of true happiness…
Joy goes deeper than good circumstances or simple happiness. It is an exceeding gladness that takes great delight in its surroundings.
Shout for Joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100: 1-2 (Experience Gods’ Christmas Presence)
With joy and thanksgiving, the Spiritual Care department of First United has committed to “Truth-Telling” as the interpretive lens for the next few years in the life, times, and evolution of First United Church.
The path to right relationship and reconciliation is strewn with good intentions, broken promises, and failed relationships. Key steps in the movement from wrong relationship to right relationship are truth telling/confession (I was wrong), apology (I am sorry) and asking to be forgiven (please forgive me).
Most of us have never said these words aloud to one another. Few were taught to admit we are wrong, apologize well and truly seek to be forgiven and to forgive.
Many of us are not practicing “right relationship” with ourselves, our families, friends, and colleagues. Many are in wrong relationship in their work life and their love life.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.
When we learn and can practice THE WAY, we are able to return to that steady state of equilibrium in relationship. And in that steady state of being there is “joy, joy, joy,joy down in my heart” no matter what the external circumstances may be. This is the liminal space where joy and woe are woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine.

Lighting the Candle of Joy
Leader: Advent is the season of preparation and waiting.
All: We have prayerful work to do.
Leader: As we light these candles of Hope, peace, and Joy, we join with many others around the earth, proclaiming our faith and our prayerful intentions to be prepared and to do the work.
All: We wait expectantly with hope. We pray and act for Peace. We choose joy and share it with others. These lights of hope, peace, and joy that shine for all.
Leader: Be the hope. Be the peace. Be the joy.
All: We will be the hope, the peace and the joy with Creator God being our helper.
Prayers of Joy for the People
Leader: With longing and yearning, we enter into the Holy presence.
So much want in the world. So much need. Desperate people in desperate times.
Is there joy on these streets where human trafficking, homelessness and poverty compete? The limited crumbs of resources trickle down from the prosperous to the poor.
Where is the joy? Is it within you? Is it between us?
All: Forgive us our negative and woeful trespasses as we forgive those who negatively and woefully trespass against us.
Shine and ignite the light of joy upon us and within us. Ground us in the joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts and empower us to radiate that divine joy. Ignite our joyful actions that help to make the kindom come. Amen.