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Event Series Event Series: Worship (In Person and Online)
Choir members singing in red robes

First Sunday of Advent

  • Date: Sunday, December 3, 2023
  • Time: 10:30am11:30am
  • Location: Sanctuary

Order of Worship

December 3, 2023 at 10:30 a.m.

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Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659, (“Savior of the Nations, Come”), Johann Sebastian Bach

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland is a plainchant-based Lutheran chorale with a long history. The original chant is attributed to Ambrose of Milan (340-397) and was first adapted as a chorale by Martin Luther in 1523. Bach wrote five different settings of this tune, and today’s prelude is one of the most beautiful and expressive of all his chorale settings. The walking bass in the pedal supports a rich duet and a lavishly ornamented melody. Enjoy the final statement—which is not Bach’s composition, but rather, quotes Buxtehude!

*Call to Worship

(The congregation responds aloud with the bold text)

We are waiting in the darkness together,
waiting for God’s light to dawn, waiting to be renewed.
Restore us, O God. Let us see your face.

We are like clay awaiting the potter.
Restore us, O God. Let us see your face.

Teach us to keep alert as we wait.
Restore us, O God. Let us see your face.
Sustain us this day as we worship you.

Come, let us worship God!

*Hymn #83: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”

1. 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.

2. Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

3. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a king,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

4. By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Prayer of Adoration

Lighting of the First Advent candle

Response: Hymn #842

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 the 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”

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.

Life in Community

Thank you for joining us for worship! Explore the calendar of events and recent announcements to take another step into our life together this week. If you’re joining us for the first time or would like to learn more about Catonsville Presbyterian, you’re welcome to share your email with us. We’ll send some information that will help you get connected.

Children’s Message

Light the Advent candle, one:
Now the waiting has begun;
we have started on our way,
time to think of Christmas day.

Candle, candle, burning bright,
shining in the cold winter night;
candle, candle burning bright,
fill our hearts with Christmas light.

Prayer for Illumination

Gracious God, heaven and earth will pass away, but your words will not pass away. Your Word stands forever. May our generation be attentive, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we remember your ways and gladly do right, meeting you wherever and whenever you appear. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 13:24-37

“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

“Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels and gather the elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight or at cockcrow or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Hymn #89 (Verses 1-2), “My Soul in Stillness Waits”

For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits;
truly my hope is in you.

1. O Lord of Light, our only hope of glory,
your radiance shines in all who look to you;
come, light the hearts of all in dark and shadow. (Refrain)

2. Spring of Joy, rain down upon our spirits;
our thirsty hearts are yearning for your word;
come, make us whole, be comfort to our hearts. (Refrain)

Sermon: “Attention,Ken Kovacs

Call to Offering

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Offering of Tithes and Gifts

Offertory: Lost in the Night, Kyle Haugen

Lost in the night do the people yet languish,
longing for morning the darkness to vanquish,
plaintively heaving a sigh full of anguish.
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon?

Must we be vainly awaiting the morrow?
Shall those who have light no light let us borrow,
giving no heed to our burden of sorrow?
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon?

Sorrowing wanderers, in darkness yet dwelling,
dawned has the day of a radiance excelling,
death’s dreaded darkness forever dispelling.
Christ is coming soon. Christ is coming soon!

*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

Christ calls us to live generous and grateful lives. Take these gifts we offer today, O God, and use them to the fulfillment of Christ’s ministry. May these gifts help to free the captives, heal the sick, comfort the lonely, feed the hungry, heal the wounded. As Christ’s hands and feet, use us too, in service to building your beloved community. Amen.

Sacrament of the Lord’s supper

Invitation to the Table

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Let us open our hearts.
We open them to God.

Let us give thanks to the Holy One.
It is right to lift up thanks and praise.

Great deliver, how wondrous are your deeds!
You created the world and all that is in it…

…Now send us again your life-giving Spirit and recharge your promise within us, for we are eagerly awaiting our Christ to fill our lives in new ways.

As we wait, we join in the chorus of heaven:

[Sung] Holy, holy, holy Lord
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he, O blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna in the highest.


So with gratitude and expectation, we remember that Jesus took bread,
blessed, broke, and gave it…

…Now, as we wait for him to come again, O God, stir up your power and restore us by sending your Holy Spirit to infuse us with hope in the great mystery of our faith:

Christ had died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

All glory and honor are yours, eternal God,
through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
And hear us as we pray,

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.

Breaking the Bread and Sharing the Cup

Prayer of Gratitude

Our hearts are full, O God. We leave this time, this space, with gratitude. God of abundance, with this bread of life and cup of salvation you have united us with Christ, making us one with all your people. Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit and with joy, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world. Amen.

*Passing of the Peace

*Hymn #105, “People, Look East”

1. People, look east. The time is near
of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able;
trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
one more seed is planted there.
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
that in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
one more light the bowl shall brim,
shining beyond the frosty weather,
bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
with the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.


Keep alert.
Keep awake.
Pay attention.

God is doing awesome things we do not expect.
Christ is coming near to us with power and glory and tenderness.

May God strengthen us as we walk this way through Advent.
May Christ draw near to us,
And may the Holy Spirit awaken our spirits and open our hearts and minds
As we wait for the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 661, (“Savior of the Nations, Come”), Johann Sebastian Bach

This jubilant version makes a fine postlude. The tune is heard in long notes in the pedal. Above the pedal is a fugue in three voices. The melody may be heard by discerning listeners in normal order, inverted (upside down) and retrograde (backwards). In Bach’s time, the organ was traditionally silent for a time following the First Sunday of Advent, and this piece, traditionally played on Advent 1, radiates the joy and anticipation of Christ’s coming before the organ falls silent and the quiet waiting begins.


  • Dorothy Boulton
    Associate Pastor
  • Keith and Kathy Glennan
    A/V Production
  • Wendy Johnston,
    Organist and Assistant Director of Music
  • Ken Kovacs,
  • Greg Knauf,
    Director of Music
  • Vickie Lord,
    Social media support
  • Howie Nixon


  • 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).
  • The Communion liturgy’s Sanctus comes from James MacMillan, part of the St. Anne’s Mass and reprinted in Common Ground: A Song Book for All the Churches (Edinburgh: St. Andrew’s Press, 1998)
  • 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
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