We who must die demand a miracle.
How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
The Infinite become a finite fact?
Nothing can save us that is possible:
We who must die demand a miracle.
—W.H. Auden, from For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio
Wonder! God is come among humanity; he who cannot be contained is contained in a womb; the timeless enters time, and great mystery: his emptying past telling! So great is this mystery. For God empties himself, takes flesh and is fashioned as a creature.
—John the Monk
Gathering Before God
December 16, 2018
3rd Sunday of Advent
Center City 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 & Preparation
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you!
Call to Worship
Leader: The Lord has done great things for us!
People: And we are filled with joy!
Leader: Our God has turned our weeping into singing,
People: our tears into songs of joy!
Leader: O Christ of God, come anew in our hearts this day,
People: and remain in us forever.
Leader: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
People: we are filled with joy!
—based on Psalm 126
Prayer of Invocation
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
I see your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
I see your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
Its all proclaiming who you are
I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
Call to Confession
Leader: Assured that God hears our repentance,
let us turn our minds to the truth,
confessing our sins to God and one another.
Prayer of Confession
People: In your presence, Holy God,
we confess that we need repentance.
We have broken your commands.
We do not live in peace with your creation or your people.
We have not trusted your word, and we are afraid.
Forgive us, restore us, and turn our shame into praise,
for the sake of the One who proclaims the good news
and for the sake of all the world. Amen.
Silent Confession & Words of Pardon
Leader: In the name of the one God who lives and moves among us, you are forgiven!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you.
Do not worry;
live in peace.
—based on Zephaniah 3:15
Song of Response- Kyrie Eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
Passing the Peace & Announcements
The Word of God
Prayer for Illumination & Scripture Reading
Luke 1.26-38, 46-56, NRSV
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Minister: This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, O Christ!
Sermon Series: Christmas Characters
Sermon Title: Mary: Trusting
Speaker: Jared Ayers
Minister: Let us say what we believe.
People: We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic1 church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
(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… 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!
Minister: You are holy, O God of majesty… 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…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.
O Holy Night
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need - to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
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.
Sending into God’s World
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.
Minister: May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace
in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!