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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
 Main Line Campus

Opening Sentences

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

—Isaiah 40:5

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 earth thou art, 
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation, 
joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Joy to those who  long to see thee, 
Dayspring from on high, appear;
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse, 
of thy birth we long to hear!   
O’er the hills the angels singing news, 
glad tidings of a birth:
“Go to him, your praises bringing; 
Christ the Lord has come to earth.”

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.


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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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O, Come All Ye Faithful 


O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant;
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;

Chorus:  
O come, let us adore Him;  
O come, let us adore Him;   
O come, let us adore Him, 
Christ the Lord!  

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
"Glory to God, all glory in the highest!"


Yea, Lord we greet Thee, Born that happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv'n.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing


Music & lyrics by John F. Wade, 1743.


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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 world rejoices;
For yonder breaks, A new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine! Oh night when Christ was born,
Oh night divine! Oh night, oh night divine! 

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 power and glory evermore proclaim;
His power and glory evermore proclaim.


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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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It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It came upon a midnight clear
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
"Peace on the earth,  good will to men
From heaven's all gracious King;"       
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing;
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye, beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow  
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing

For lo, the days are hast’ning on, 
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years 
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth 
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song 
which now the angels sing.


© 1993 Lorenz Publishing Company
CCLI Song # 2596356 -- CCLI License # 30403221


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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


O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, 
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, 
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth 
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years, 
Are met in thee tonight. 

For Christ is born of Mary 
And gathered all above;
While mortals sleep the angels keep 
Their watch of wondering love.
O, morning stars together 
Proclaim the holy birth;
And praises sing to God the King 
And peace to men on earth. 

How silently, how silently, 
The wondrous gift is giv'n;
So God imparts to human hearts, 
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, 
But in this world of sin;
Where meek souls will receive Him still, 
The dear Christ enters in. 

O, holy child of Bethlehem, 
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, 
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, 
The great glad tidings tell;
O, come to us abide with us, 
Our Lord, Emmanuel.


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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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