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Reflections

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Set your minds on things eternal,
For with blessing in his hand
Christ our Lord descended,
Came our homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
Once upon the earth he stood;
Lord of lords we now perceive him
In the body and the blood.
He has given to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Stream before him on the way,
As the Light of Light, descending
From the realms of endless day,
Comes, the powers of hell to vanquish,
Clears the doom of hell away.

—“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” from The Liturgy of St. James



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Gathering Before God
December 23, 2018
 4th Sunday of Advent
 Center City Campus

Opening Sentences

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

—Isaiah 40:5

Go Tell It On The Mountain   

Chorus:
Go tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born

While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks that night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light

Chorus

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth

Chorus

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And brought us God's salvation
That blessed Christmas morn

Chorus

  

Lyrics by John W. Work Jr., 1907, Music: African-American Spiritual.


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Greeting & Preparation

Leader: The Lord be with you. 
People: And also with you!

Call to Worship 

Leader: Our souls magnify the Lord!
People: Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior!

Leader: The mighty One has done great things for us!
People: Holy is God’s name!

Leader: Let us worship God.
People: For God is our Maker and our Redeemer;
from generation to generation God gives mercy. 

Leader: Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit;
People: holy is God's name! 

—based on Luke 1:46-50

Prayer of Invocation


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Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Chorus:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Chorus

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Chorus


Words: Traditional French carol, trans. James Chadwick 1862.


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Hark the Herald

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 host 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 a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
 Hail, th'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 Son 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 us second birth.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!" 



Lyrics by Charles Wesley


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Call to Confession

Leader: Prepare the way of the Lord!
Let us make our confession to God.

Prayer of Confession

People: O promised Christ:
We are a world at war.
Our peace depends on your coming.
We are a sinful people.
Our pardon depends on your coming.
We are full of good intentions
but weak at keeping promises;
our only hope of doing God’s will
is that you should come and help us do it.
Lord Christ, Word made flesh,
our world waits
for your peace,
for your pardon,
and for your grace.
Even so: come, Lord Jesus- Amen.

Silent Confession & Words of Pardon

Leader: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Your sins are pardoned.
The penalty is paid; thanks be to God.

—based on Isaiah 40:1-2

Song of Response- Kyrie Eleison

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
On us.
(X2)


Passing the Peace & Announcements


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The Word of God

Prayer for Illumination & Scripture Reading
Luke 2:1-20, NRSV

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Minister:        This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, O Christ!

Sermon
Sermon Series: Christmas Characters
Sermon Title: Shepherds: Fear & Joy
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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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.
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… 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!
(2x)

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
(2x)
                                                      

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. 


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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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Away In A Manger


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.


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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


Angels From The Realms Of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
You, who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:

Chorus:
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King! 

Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant Light

Chorus

Sages, leave your contemplations;
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great desire of nations;
You have seen his natal star

Chorus

Though an infant now we view him,
He will share his Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to him;
Every knee shall then bow down

Chorus

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To the eternal Three in One

Chorus


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Benediction

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

Dismissal

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

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