“The prophet is addressing an audience that has experienced life as chaos. The sacred center that formerly had held together an ordered universe, the temple in Jerusalem, was destroyed. The concentric circles of institutional structure that had unified the diverse spheres of human activity into a harmonious whole, namely, royal court, priesthood, and commerce, had ruptured. Rushing in to fill the voids were looters, worshipers of pagan God’s, and foreign armies coming to tear the Jewish people from their homeland. Finally, one morning, the followers of Yahweh woke up to see the sun rising not on the hills of Ephraim but on a land where Marduck and Nebo were worshiped. Confusion swamped the consciousness of many. Life no longer had a center but came to resemble the chaos poignantly described by William Butler Yeats:
“Things fall apart; center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
—Paul D. Habson professor of Divinity at Harvard from Commentary on Isaiah
GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 31, 2017
1st Sunday of Christmas
Main Line Campus
Leader: The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!
COME THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS
Come Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the saints Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By His life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
GREETING AND PREPARATION
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you!
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Christ is born! Alleluia!
People: Jesus is among us! Alleluia!
Leader: The Word has become flesh!
People: Alleluia, alleluia!
Leader: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
People: alleluia, alleluia!
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
THE FIRST NOEL
The first No-el the angel did say,
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold win-ters night that was so deep
No-el, No-el, No-el, No-el
Born is the King of Is-ra-el.
They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought.
O COME O COME EMMANUEL
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come thou rod of Jesse
free thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell thy people save
and give them victory o're the grave
O come thou Key of David Come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light
O come thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go
O come, Desire of nations,
bind all people in one heart and mind
Bid envy strife and quarrels cease
Fill all the world with heaven's peace
Lyrics by Jason Mason Neale
CALL TO CONFESSION
Leader: God's light shines in our darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out. Let us therefore confess our sins to God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
People: Almighty God, you sent Christ to be born as a helpless child, and yet we have not attended to the suffering of children. You chose humble Mary to be mother of our Lord Jesus, and yet we have not attended to the struggles of women. The holy family could find no room in Bethlehem, and yet we have not attended to the cries of the homeless. Forgive us and free us for joyful compassion, that we may know Christ in serving others. Through Christ we pray; Amen.
SILENT CONFESSION & WORDS OF PARDON
Leader: Break forth into singing, for the Lord has redeemed you. See the salvation of God; find comfort in his strong arms. Through the gift of Christ, you are forgiven!
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, Amen, Amen
PASSING THE PEACE & ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE WORD OF GOD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Isaiah 52:7-10, NRSV
7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’
8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
Minister: This the Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!
Sermon Series: The Crown: Isaiah & the Arrival of King Jesus
Sermon Title: Finding the Center
Speaker: Vito Baldini
Minister: Let us say what we believe.
People: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic1 and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
(1that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places)"
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. 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. So 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. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
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.
COME SEE A CHILD OF LOW ESTATE
Come, see a child of low estate,
in manger bed reclining;
Yet on His humble dwelling place
bright stars in heav’n are shin-ing
This little babe is Christ the Lord,
whom saints have long expected,
for man He comes to live and die,
despised, betrayed, rejected
For man He comes to rend the veil
which hides death’s gloomy portal,
and make a home where where man with Him
in peace may dwell, immortal
He comes to triumph o’er the grave,
and rise on Easter morning,
and reign in heav’n at God’s right hand,
until the last Day’s dawning
So may we all His grace partake:
from Jesus, meek and lowly,
may we his faithful servants be
kept by his Spirit holy!
from Songs for the Incarnation, released November 7, 2014 Words: W.D. Springett, 1899
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Minister: Lord, in your mercy,
People: hear our prayer.
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 against us. 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
COME THOU FOUNT
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise His mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by Thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor,
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above.
Minister: May God, redeemer of Israel, dismiss us in peace; may Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Mary, uphold us in love; may the Holy Spirit, the power of God, guide us in truth.
Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!