2018 OEP Sunday Worship Resources

Celebrating On Earth Peace Sunday

December 9, 2018

What is OEP Sunday?

OEP Sunday - held on December 9th this year - is set aside by the Church of the Brethren to recognize the Church's of the Brethren agency responsible for upholding and carrying out the work related to the church’s historic peace witness. It is also the date of Peace Sunday (2nd Sunday in Advent). 

How can my congregation participate?

On December 9, 2018, your congregation can participate in the following ways.

1. Using one or more of our special worship resources (available on this page) in your service and sharing a brief video about the ministries of OEP.

2. Taking up a special offering to support OEP. Our OEP Sunday offering goal is $25,000! Your contributions go directly to support our justice and peace ministries in the Church of the Brethren and beyond. 

Will your congregation join us on this special day to uplift OEP’s important work? Let us know by emailing lgibson@onearthpeace and sharing your plans. You can also post pictures or videos of your worship service on that day to our Facebook page.

We look forward to celebrating with you this December.

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord;  make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

--Luke 3:4-6 - 2018 OEP Sunday Theme Scripture

Call to Worship

In the name of God,
who created us,
who holds us and the whole world in their hands.

In the name of the Son
who came into the world,
who reconciles us with God.

In the name of the Holy Spirit
who fills us with eternal life,
who links us with all Christians
and incites us to peace,
we come together to offer our thanks and praise.

Source: re:Worship

Lighting the Advent Candle of Peace

Reader 1: O God, we light the second candle of Advent.
(With the first candle already burning, a family member lights the second candle.)

Reader 2: We seek your comfort. Both mighty and tender, you come. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you.

(Option): We have sought such a God, both mighty and tender. We recall...(a member or members of a family describe a time they sought the might and tenderness of God.)

Reader 1: Isaiah announced God's coming to a people exiled in a broken and parched wilderness. He declared that God's redemption would make a highway in the desert and change the rough places into plain. God would come as a shepherd—feeding, leading, and cradling the weary flock. This Advent, we seek such a God.

People: Saving God, look upon your world and heal your land and your people. Prepare us to be changed. This Advent, teach us to be tender and just, as you are. Amen.

People (sing): Shine on us, O God of justice;
Guide our path through gloom of night;
Bear within us Wisdom's glory;
Come to us, O Christ the Light.

Source: UCC, Advent Liturgy for Lighting Candles

 

Children's Story

Create a lap-size sandbox. Using a see-through plastic container works best.  Fill halfway with sand. Bring rocks, cardboard, and other items to create obstacles in the sand.

Ask the children: What are some things that distract you from seeing Jesus, especially during the Christmas season?  Some answers might include: presents, lights, holiday parties, forgetting to look, violence in the world, someone being sick, etc.  Be ready to share some ideas as well. For each idea, add an obstacle in the sand- dig a trench, stack some rocks, use cardboard as a wall.

Read or tell today’s scripture: Luke 3:4-6.  You might even have someone in the congregation or the pastor ready to shout “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

Ask the children: What are some things we do to prepare for Jesus and help people see God?  Some answers might include: read the Bible, sing carols, put up a nativity, use an Advent calendar, help someone who is sick, be a friend to someone, show love, be a peacemaker, etc.  As each idea is shared, remove one of the obstacles and smooth out the sand. Encourage the children to prepare for Jesus’ coming by doing good, working for peace, and showing love.

--Marie Benner-Rhoades, OEP Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation Director

 

Moment in OEP Mission

Advent is a time of anticipation. When we tangibly feel together the tidings of peace and good will, comfort and joy. It is all around us, in sights and sounds, in hopes and memories. Christmas is in the air, Thanksgiving is fresh on our minds, and a New Year is coming in. What a time!

It is the perfect time to reflect and pray. On how we can take this hope and joy, and share it with others, in our neighborhood and beyond. This sharing takes preparation, as the prophet says.

Here are just a few of the ways On Earth Peace is trying to help “Prepare the way of the Lord:”

  • We join you in struggling to overcome racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression, exclusion, and marginalization in our life and work.
  • We join you in resisting war and the militarization of our society, especially our youth.
  • We join you in learning to follow the spiritual and practical discipline of active nonviolence, as lived and taught by Jesus and applied in our day by teachers like Gandhi and King.
  • We join you in seeking justpeace/reconciliation through healthy conflict transformation.

And we have congregations and Jesus-followers like you to thank. Because your gifts for this ministry are what make it possible all year long for the On Earth Peace community to keep doing this work.

Working together, we can become so much more than “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

--Bill Scheurer, OEP Executive Director

 

Scripture Reflection on Luke 3:4-6

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord;  make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

Another World is Possible - Repairing and Preparing

The words in this scripture resonate deeply with me as I think about the time we live in and the time that Luke found himself in as he quoted Isaiah in this passage.  Just as Luke tried to help his audience grasp the meaning of John’s preaching and to fashion their lives and work around the call to “prepare a way for the Lord," we find ourselves in a similar place, praying and working for justice and peace, seeking to make right a world mired in violence and injustice. As we take on this task of repairing and preparing, we are joined by individuals and communities within the church and beyond who are traveling on their their own unique and challenging journeys to reconciliation.

Throughout these poignant verses, Luke speaks of valleys, mountains, hills and rough roads. It is not difficult to look around us and realize many of the present-day obstacles to justice and peace. Our national and global political rhetoric, increasing inequality, and the persistent Goliath of white supremacy are just a few. As we take in these present-day obstacles, it is easy to become resigned to the idea that the world will always be this way or that we have no role to play beyond securing salvation for ourselves and those that we care most about or the people we find it easiest to identify with. The beauty of this message lies not in some cure-all prescription that provides a fix to all of the problems we find facing our world today. If you think about it, here we are talking about another desert story where someone is seeing and declaring a future that nothing about the present would lead you to believe is possible. Why should we believe them when the evidence all around us points to a more rational conclusion?

It is at the end of verse six that we find the promise that is worth fighting for: “And all people will see God’s salvation.” You mean, everyone? That’s right: all people. The churched, unchurched, rich, poor, queer, straight, sick, and healthy - all people.

The ministries of justice and peace are anchored in a deep belief that all of God’s creation is valuable and worth saving and that the life of Jesus gives us an example of how to engage in this important work. As you think about the first time you were called to put the Word into action for justice and peace, ask yourself if the call came at the best time in your life when you could easily fit the work into your busy schedule or into the life of your congregation or community. Did the call come when everything was perfectly lined up for you to accept it? Or did you hear the call in the desert, in a trying time in your life? Did the call to engage the rough roads and seemingly impassable mountains come at a time where it was hard to believe in the capacity of yourself or your community to accept it? If you are reading or hearing this message, it is likely that you or your community has accepted the call or are trying to determine if you can. The obstacles are many and the potential for failure looms. What can you do, within yourself and your community, to see beyond the fear and to grasp ahold of the promise? What commitments can we make or rededicate ourselves to as we work to “prepare the way for the Lord?" As you consider these questions, try to keep the promise, rather than the obstacles first in your vision. Encourage others who are weary from this world to do the same. The work is ours to do together.

--Lamar Gibson, OEP Development Director

 

Prayer

Jesus, give us your Spirit so that we might be able to hear the voice in the wilderness. As you have done before, help us to to look at the times we live in, not only with sadness and grief, but with a full and widely shared vision of your kingdom, here on earth. Let your voice speak to us through the injustices and violence, and teach us to be able to hear it from the people most affected by the challenges we face and in the places we haven’t thought to expect it. Show us, in ways big and small, that another world is possible so that we might equip ourselves and join with one another in preparing the way.

--Lamar Gibson, OEP Development Direictor

 

Benediction

We hear the wilderness voice cry out;
Yearning, our hearts prepare the way.
Paths uncurl, valleys fill, mountains sink;
For salvation’s peace unbends the twisted.
As we go forth, smooth will be our ways.

- Mike Fike, Former OEP Board Member


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