GATHERING BEFORE GOD
January 4, 2015
Second Sunday of Christmas
GREETING AND PREPARATION
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you!
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
People: The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.
Leader: We praise you, Lord, who crowns us with love and compassion, who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
People: From everlasting to everlasting your love is with those who fear you, O Lord, and your righteousness to their children’s children, with those who keep your covenant and remember to obey your commandments.
— From Psalm 102-103
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
BE THOU MY VISION
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
IN CHRIST ALONE
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Leader: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
—Isaiah 30:15, 18, NIV
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
People: Our Father in heaven, we come to you now, as our King. And we can only come to you because you welcome the needy and the afflicted.
Father, our central need is for your reign. Yet, we run from it. Many times this past week, we have wrestled control of our lives away from you. In those times, we have turned our hearts away from your heart and our feet away from your commandments.
So, receive us now, not because we’re good or because we vow to do better, because you rejected your Son in our place. We pray in His name. Amen.
WORDS OF PARDON
Leader: In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.
— Acts 3:18-20
SONG OF RESPONSE - GLORIA PATRI
Glory be to the Father, Glory be to the Son
Glory be to the Spirit Three in One
As it was in the beginning it will be forever. Amen.
IN COVENANT MEMBERSHIP
STORIES OF GOD’S WORK & VOWS
Minister: Do you renounce sin and the power of evil in your life and in the world?
Candidate: I renounce them.
Minister: Who is your Lord and Savior?
Candidate: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
Minister: Will you be a faithful covenant member of Liberti Church, and through a life of worship, community, and mercy seek to advance God’s purposes here and throughout the world? Do your promise to instruct your child in the truth of God’s word, in the way of salvation through Jesus Christ; to pray for him, to teach him to pray; and to train him in Christ’s way by example, through worship, and in the nurture of the church?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.
Minister: Do you promise to accept the spiritual guidance of the church and its leaders, to walk in a spirit of Christian love with this congregation, and to seek those things that make for unity, purity, and peace?
Candidate: I do.
Minister: Do you promise to love, encourage, and support this family by teaching them the gospel, by being an example of Christian faith and character, and by giving the strong support of God’s family in fellowship, prayer, and service?
People: We do.
CONFESSION OF FAITH — THE APOSTLES’ CREED
Minister: Let us affirm our faith together in the words of the Apostles’ creed: Do you believe in God the Father?
People: We believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
Minister: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People: We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Minister: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Minister: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
PASSING THE PEACE
THE WORD OF GOD
Matthew 2:13-23, NRSV
13Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
16When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
19When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
Minister: This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you O Christ!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Sermon series: The One: The Story of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew
Sermon title: The Monster & the Manger
Speaker: Jared Ayers
The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole. If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others. Thus the way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the cross.
— Edith Stein
The New Testament...seeks to establish God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument, a revelation of his solidarity with human struggle rather than a philosophical proof of his benevolence. In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains. That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild. The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death. In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.
— Ross Douthat, from “The Loss of the Innocents,” in the Dec. 15 2012 New York Times
THE LORD’S TABLE
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts now!
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
It is right and good, always and everywhere.
To give thanks, to the Lord.
Minister: With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us — even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who came among us as the Word made flesh to show us your glory, full of grace and truth. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name, saying:
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest!
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest!
Minister: You are holy, O God of majesty, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Born in humility, he came to rule over all. Helpless as an infant, he showed the power of your love. Poor in things of the world, he brought the wealth of your grace. Rejected by many, he welcomed all who sought him. In his dying and rising, you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.
Minister: Remembering your gracious acts in Jesus Christ, we take from your creation this bread and wine and joyfully celebrate his dying and rising as we await the day of his coming. With thanksgiving we offer our very selves to you to be a living and holy sacrifice, dedicated to your service. Together we proclaim the mystery of the faith.
Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
Your rising celebrate!
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new.
Minister: Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit so that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we and all your saints be united with Christ and remain faithful in hope and love. Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of your kingdom.
Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son,
praise to the Spirit,
Our God the Three in One.
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
Minister: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People: Therefore, let us keep the feast.
Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God.
Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion.
Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.
PRAYERS FOR REFLECTION
If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers:
PRAYER FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR TRUTH: Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.
PRAYER OF BELIEF: Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.
AMAZING GRACE (MY CHAINS ARE GONE)
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.
People: Most gracious God,
we praise you for what you have given
and for what you have promised us here.
You have made us one
with all your people
in heaven and on earth.
You have fed us
with the bread of life,
and renewed us for your service.
Now we give ourselves to you;
and we ask that our daily living
may be part of your kingdom,
and that our love may be your love
reaching out into the life of the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Minister: Let us pray as our Lord Jesus has taught us:
People: Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours, now
and forever. Amen.
SENDING INTO GOD’S WORLD
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, All creatures here below
Praise Him Above, Ye Heavenly Host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Minister: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever.
— I Peter 5:10-11
Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!
People: Thanks be to God!
COMING UP AT LIBERTI
Please visit libertichurch.org/news for more information on these and other upcoming opportunities at Liberti Church!
This week, please pray alongside us for...
Our Church — Pray for people who are in need of community to find one in Liberti. Pray for the new season of home groups beginning this week.
Our City — Pray for the many pastors who work throughout the city to serve needs both physical and spiritual.
Our World — Pray that God’s hand would be on Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories. Pray for the leaders of these nations to seek peace and reconciliation for their people.