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
Main Line Campus

Opening Sentences

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

—Isaiah 40:5

Angels from the realms of glory

Angels from the realms of glory, 
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story, 
Now proclaim Messiah's birth.
Come and worship, come and worship; 
Worship Christ, the new-born King! 

Shepherds in the fields abiding, 
Watching o'er your flocks by night;
God with man is now residing, 
Yonder shines the infant Light.
Come and worship, come and worship; 
Worship Christ, the new-born King! 

Sages, leave your contemplation's, 
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations, 
Ye have seen His natal star.
Come and worship, come and worship; 
Worship Christ, the new-born King! 

Saints, before the altar bending, 
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending, 
In His temple shall appear.
Come and worship, come and worship; 
Worship Christ, the new-born King! 

All creation, join in praising, 
God, the Father, Spirit, Son;
Evermore your voices raising, 
To the eternal Three in One.
Come and worship, come and worship; 
Worship Christ, the new-born King!


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


The First Noel

The first Noel, 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 winter's night That was so deep. 

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, 
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 heav'nly Lord,
That hath made heav'n And earth of naught,
And with His blood Mankind hath bought.


Once In Royal David's City

Once in royal David's city,
stood a lowly cattle  shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for His bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable
And His cradle was a stall
With the poor and mean and lowly
Lived on earth our Savior holy

And our eyes at last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone


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
On us.

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: Don Overton


Apostles’ Creed

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. 

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.


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.  


Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming 

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming 
from tender stem hath sprung,
of Jesse’s lineage coming, 
as men of old have sung.
It came, a flow'ret bright, 
amid the cold of winter, 
when half-spent was the night.

I-sai-ah ’twas foretold it,  
the Rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it, 
the vir-gin  mo-ther kind.
To show God’s love aright 
she bore to us a Savior, 
when half-spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story,     
proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glo--ry, 
was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped 
and in the manger found Him, 
as angel heralds said.

This flow'r, whose fragrance tender 
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor 
the darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God; 
from sin and death He saves us 
And lightens ev'ry load.

O Savior, child of Ma--ry, 
who felt our human woe;
O Savior, King of glo--ry, 
who dost our weakness know,
bring us   at  length, we pray, 
to the bright courts of heaven, 
and to the endless day.


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


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,  
"Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,  
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,  
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th'angelic hosts proclaim,  
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."

Hark! the herald angels sing,  
"Glory to the newborn King."
Christ, by highest heav'n adored,  
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,  
Offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,  
Hail, the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,  
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,   
"Glory to the newborn King."

Hail the heav'n born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,  
Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,  
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,  
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,  
"Glory to the newborn King!"



Minister: May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace
in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
People: Amen. 

—Romans 15:13


Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. 
People: Thanks be to God!