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“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

 

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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 31, 2017
1st Sunday of Christmas

Center City Campus

OPENING SENTENCES

Leader: The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together!
—Isaiah 40:5

WONDERFUL MERCIFUL SAVIOR

Wonderful, Merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend!
Who would have thought that a
Lamb could rescue the souls of men,
 Oh You rescue the souls of men. 

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper,
Spirit we long to embrace.
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way,
Oh we've hopelessly lost the way. 

You are the One that we praise,
You are the One we adore.
You give the healing and grace our
hearts always hunger for,
Oh our hearts always hunger for

Almighty infinite Father
Faithfully loving your own
Here in our weakness you find us
falling before Your Throne,
Oh we're falling before Your throne.

 

Music & lyrics by Dawn Rodgers & Eric Wyse. Chorus by Jack Schrader, 1989. 
Music and lyrics by Sandra McCracken, 2015.

 

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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

 

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PSALM 126

Our mouths, they were filled, filled with laughter.
Our tongues, they were loosed, loosed with joy.
Restore us, O Lord! Restore us, O Lord!

CHORUS
Although we are weeping,
Lord, help us keep sowing
The seeds of Your Kingdom
For the day You will reap them!
Your sheaves we will carry;
Lord, please do not tarry!
All those who sow weeping
Will go out with songs of joy!

The nations will say “He has done great things!”
The nations will sing songs of joy.
Restore us, O Lord! Restore us, O Lord!

CHORUS X2

 

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THERE IS A HOPE

There is a hope that burns within my heart
That gives me strength for every passing day
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part
Yet drives all doubt away
I stand in Christ with sins forgiv’n
And Christ in me, the hope of heav'n
My highest calling and my deepest joy
To make His will my home

There is a hope that lifts my weary head
A consolation strong against despair
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit
I find the Savior there
Through present suff’rings future’s fear
He whispers courage in my ear
For I am safe in everlasting arms
And they will lead me home

There is a hope that stands the test of time
That lifts my eyes beyond the beck’ning grave
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face
When suff’rings cease and sorrows die
And ev'ry longing satisfied
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul
For I am truly home

 

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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. 

—John 1:5

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! 
—Isaiah 52:7-10

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

 

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THE WORD OF GOD

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
SCRIPTURE READING
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
Sermon Series: The Crown: Isaiah & the Arrival of King Jesus
Sermon Title: Finding the Center
Speaker: Vito Baldini

 

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NICENE CREED

 

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)"

 

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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:

 

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Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
Your rising celebrate! 
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new
(REPEAT)

 

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. 

HOLY COMMUNION

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.

 

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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. 

 

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THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.


To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away,
where His glory forever I'll share.

 

Text and Music by George Bennard, 1999

 

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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.

 

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SENDING INTO GOD’S WORLD

OFFERING

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.
 

Authors, Mary Elizabeth Byrne and Eleanor Henrietta Hull

 

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BENEDICTION

 

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.

People:     Amen.

 

DISMISSAL

Minister:    Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People:     Thanks be to God!

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