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Fourth Sunday of Advent
- Date: Sunday, December 24, 2023
- Time: 10:30am–11:30am
- Location: Sanctuary
Order of Worship
December 24, 2023 at 10:30 a.m.
Pastoral Symphony, George Frideric Handel
*Call to Worship
(The congregation responds aloud with the bold text)
Look! The young woman is with child;
She will call him Emmanuel, for God is with us.
A ruler will come from Bethlehem,
And he will be the shepherd of peace.
Come, let us worship God!
*Hymn #109, “Blest Be the God of Israel”
1. Blest be the God of Israel,
who comes to set us free;
who visits and redeems us,
who grants us liberty.
The prophets spoke of mercy,
of freedom and release;
God shall fulfill that promise
and bring the people peace.
2. God from the house of David
a child of grace has given;
a Savior comes among us
to raise us up to heaven.
Before him goes the herald,
forerunner in the way,
the prophet of salvation,
the harbinger of day.
3. On those who sit in darkness
the sun begins to rise,
the dawning of forgiveness
upon the sinner’s eyes.
God guides the feet of pilgrims
along the paths of peace.
O bless our God and Savior
with songs that never cease!
Prayer of Adoration
Lighting of the FOURTH Advent Candle
Response: Hymn #842, “The Lord Is My Light”
The Lord is my light, my light and salvation;
In God I trust; in God I trust.
Call to Confession
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, as we watch and wait for signs of your expansive love,
forgive our narrow thinking.
As we repent in the wilderness with John,
we confess that we often lack the imagination to testify to the coming light.
As we visit the home of Elizabeth,
we lament our loss of wonder and our failure to recognize miracles among us.
Even as we hear the witness of angels and the shepherds,
we confess that we do not make haste to go and see the Christ.
Forgive our apathy and small-mindedness.
When the wait is over and all is finished,
open our minds to recognize the strength and wisdom of Christ, God with us.
Silent prayer of confession
Assurance of Pardon
Hear this good news: in Christ, there is strength and wisdom,
expansive love and everlasting grace.
We are forgiven and being transformed
to go and proclaim the wonder
of the one who is coming.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
*Response of Praise: Hymn #654, “In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful” (Sing two times)
In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful;
in the Lord I will rejoice!
Look to God; do not be afraid.
Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.
Lift up your voices; the Lord is near.
*Passing of the Peace
Life in Community
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[Sung] Light the Advent candle, four;
Think of joy forevermore;
Christ child in a stable born,
gift of love that Christmas morn.
Candle, candle, burning bright,
Shining in the cold winter night;
Candle, candle, burning bright,
Fill our hearts with Christmas light.
Prayer for Illumination
Saving God, liberate us from the sins which distort our vision and disrupt our hearing as we approach your Word. Standing firm in your love, let us open ourselves to the truth you reveal to us today. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever
and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah
Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one and said,
“I have set the crown on one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found my servant David;
with my holy oil I have anointed him;
my hand shall always remain with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him;
the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him,
and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’
Hymn #100: “No Wind at the Window”
1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
so from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn.
2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
and your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
you will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn. (Refrain)
3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
there are tables spread; every mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn. (Refrain)
4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
till the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around. (Refrain)
Scripture: Luke 1:46b-55
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant.
Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name;
indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Meditation: “On the Threshold of the Turning”, Ken Kovacs
Call to Offering
Offering of Tithes and Gifts
Offertory: O Holy Night, Adolphe Charles Adam
*Doxology #607, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Christ, all people here below;
Praise Holy Spirit evermore;
Praise Triune God, whom we adore. Amen.
*Prayer of Dedication
Holy God, your love is magnified in the gifts of your Son, whom you so freely share with us. Bless these gifts that we offer to lift up the lowly and fill the hungry in your coming reign of justice and peace; in Christ’s name. Amen.
Prayers of the people & the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory, forever. Amen.
*Hymn #347, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”
1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood,
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.
3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the shadows clear away.
4. At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
alleluia, Lord most high!”
Magnify the Lord and rejoice, for nothing is impossible with God.
And the blessing of God, who creates, redeems, and restores, be with you now and always.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come!
Angels We Have Heard on High, setting by Dale Wood
- Dorothy Boulton, Associate Pastor
- Keith and Kathy Glennan, A/V Production
- David Hutton, Liturgist
- Wendy Johnston, Organist and Assistant Director of Music
- Greg Knauf, Director of Music
- Ken Kovacs, Pastor
- Vickie Lord, Social media support
- Page Peercy, Soloist
- The Schneider Family, Candle Lighters
- Image: “The Magnificat.” Stained glass window. Church of Reconciliation, Taizé Community, Taizé, France.
- Call to Worship: Liturgy, Music, Preaching, and the Arts, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Theology and Worship (Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2023).
- Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013).
- Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-734388; CCLI Copyright License B 20481088 + Streaming License B 481071