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Reflections

By his appearance in the flesh our Lord visited us when we were distancing ourselves from him, and he chose to seek out and justify us when we were sinners. He visited us as a doctor visits an ill patient, and, in order to cure the ingrained sickness of our pride, he gave us the example of his own humility. He redeemed his people by giving us freedom, at the price of his own blood- we who had been sold into the slavery of sin and were committed to serving the ancient enemy.

—Bede the Venerable

(Repentance is) the turning of all of ourselves, without leaving anything behind or outside, toward God; a refocusing of the mental life, and its cultural and social underpinnings and of our feelings, affections, and instincts, in light of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

—Lamin Sanneh, from Whose Religion Is Christianity?


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Gathering Before God

December 9, 2018
2nd 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


Comfort Comfort Now My People

Comfort, comfort now my people;
speak of peace: so says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning under sorrow’s load.
Cry out to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling all to true repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Then make straight what long was crooked;
make the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.


© Public Domain CCLI Song # 732274 -- CCLI License # 30403221


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Greeting & Preparation

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

Call to Worship 

Leader: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his Word I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning. 
People: There is no darkness with you, O Lord.

Leader: O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
People: There is no darkness with you, O Lord.

Leader: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. 
People: There is no darkness with you, O Lord.

 —based on Psalm 130:5-7

Prayer of Invocation


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O Little Town of Bethlehem

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

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n.
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 -manuel.


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The Church’s One Foundation

The church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
 Of peace forevermore;
’Til, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blessed,
 And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.



© Music by Samuel S. Wesley, 1864. Lyrics by Samuel J. Stone, 1866.


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Presentation of Ordination- Vito Baldini

Apostles’ Creed

Minister: Let us all stand with Vito, confessing our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed: 
People: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth. 
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen. 


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Candidate Vows

Minister: Do you believe in your heart that you are called by Christ’s church, and therefore by God, to this ministry of Word and sacrament? 
Candidate: Yes, truly, with all my heart.

Minister: Do you believe the books of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and the perfect doctrine of salvation, rejecting all contrary beliefs?
Candidate: Yes, truly, with all my heart.

Minister: Will you proclaim the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; upholding the witness of Holy Scripture against all schisms and heresies?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Minister: Will you be diligent in your study of Holy Scripture and in use of the means of grace?
Will you pray for God’s people and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Minister: Will you accept the church’s order and governance, submitting to ecclesiastical discipline should you become delinquent in either life or doctrine?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Minister: Will you be loyal to the witness and work of the Reformed Church in America,
using all your abilities to further its Christian mission here and throughout the world?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Minister: Will you strive to fulfill faithfully, diligently, and cheerfully, all the duties of a minister of Christ:
to preach the Word of God in sincerity,
to administer the sacraments in purity,
to maintain proper discipline in the household of God,
and to shepherd the flock faithfully?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me. 


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Ordination

Congregational Vows 

Minister: Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,
do you receive in the name of the Lord,
Vito Baldini
to be your pastor and teacher?
People: We do.

Minister: Do you promise to receive with meekness and love
the word of truth he proclaims?
People: We do.

Minister: Do you promise to
honor his authority,
welcome his pastoral care,
and follow as he guides you
in serving Jesus Christ,
the only head of the church?
People: We do.

Minister: Do you promise to encourage and pray for him;
to labor together in obedience to the gospel
for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to labor together in obedience to the gospel
for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the unity, purity, and peace of the church,
and the welfare of the whole world?
People: We do.

Minister: Do you promise him
such financial and personal support
that he shall serve among you
with joy and not with grief
as long as you covenant together?
People: We do.


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Minister: Beloved people of God,
receive with joy your minister in the Lord.
Remember God speaks to you through him.
Receive the word he shall preach to you
as it is in truth, the Word of God.
Respect those who labor among you,
esteem them highly in love
because of their work.
Let those who preach the gospel of peace,
bringing good news and announcing salvation,
be beautiful and pleasant to you.
People: Thanks be to God.


Passing the Peace

Announcements


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The Word of God

Prayer for Illumination & Scripture Reading
Luke 1:5-25, 57-80, NRSV

5In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. 8Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” 21Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25“This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”


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57Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. 67Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

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

Sermon
Sermon Series: Christmas Characters
Sermon Title: John the Baptizer: Turning
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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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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O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus

The deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness o—ver me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above! 

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
 Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
’Tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
’Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee! 



Words by Samuel Trevor Francis.
Music by Welsh Melody (adapt. Thomas John Williams)


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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

Love Came Down At Christmas

Love came down at Christmas
Love incarnate, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign

Refrain:
Emmanuel
Our God with us
Emmanuel
Our hope, our trust

Worship we the Godhead
Love Incarnate, Love Divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign

Refrain:
Emmanuel
Our God with us
Emmanuel
Our hope, our trust


Refrain



© 2009 5 PM Records CCLI Song # 5703177 --
CCLI License # 30403221


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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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