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

Third Sunday of Advent

  • Date: Sunday, December 17, 2023
  • Time: 10:30am11:30am
  • Location: Sanctuary

Order of Worship

December 17, 2023 at 10:30 a.m.

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Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen, (“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”) Op.122, No. 8, Johannes Brahms

The great Romantic composer, Johannes Brahms composed opus 122 for organ during the last summer of his life. These miniatures have a warm autumnal quality that is uniquely Brahmsian, and this setting of “Lo, How a Rose” is particularly so. The poem draws upon biblical prophecy that the newborn Christ will grow from the “stem of Jesse,” the father of King David.

Introit: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” Arr. Robert Scholz, adapted

This night a wondrous revelation
A great and mighty wonder,
Makes known to me God’s love and grace;
A full and holy cure,
The Child that merits adoration
The Virgin bears the Infant,
Brings light to our benighted race.
The Word Incarnate sure.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
as prophets long have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah twas foretold it,
the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it,
the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
she bore for all a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.

*Call to Worship

(The congregation responds aloud with the bold text)

With open hands, we proclaim:
God promises to bring good news to the afflicted, the disenfranchised,
the oppressed, the tormented, the grieving, and the imprisoned.

With open spirits, we shout with joy.
God calls us to rejoice, pray, and give thanks constantly.

With open minds, we gather in God’s covenant.
God sanctifies us so that we will be ready for the coming of the Lord.
Let us worship God!

*Hymn #107, “Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn”

1. Awake! Awake, and greet the new morn,
for angels herald its dawning.
Sing out your joy, for soon he is born,
behold! the Child of our longing.
Come as a baby weak and poor,
to bring all hearts together,
he opens wide the heavenly door
and lives now inside us forever.

2. To us, to all in sorrow and fear,
Emmanuel comes a-singing;
his humble song is quiet and near,
yet fills the earth with its ringing;
music to heal the broken soul
and hymns of loving-kindness.
The thunder of his anthems rolls
to shatter all hatred and violence.

3. In darkest night his coming shall be,
when all the world is despairing,
as morning light so quiet and free,
so warm and gentle and caring.
Then shall the mute break forth in song,
the lame shall leap in wonder,
the weak be raised above the strong,
and weapons be broken asunder.

4. Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night.
Though dark the winter and cheerless,
the rising sun shall crown you with light;
be strong and loving and fearless.
Love be our song and love our prayer
and love our endless story;
may God fill every day we share
and bring us at last into glory.

Prayer of Adoration

Lighting of the Third 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 #134, “Joy to the World”

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her king;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

*Passing of the Peace

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.

Reception of New Members

  • Barbara Renton
  • Ralph and Lainie Surette

Children’s Message

[Sung] Light the Advent candle, three;
Think of heavenly harmony;
angels singing “Peace on earth”
at the blessed Savior’s birth.

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

Anthem: “Comfort, Comfort,” Arr. John Ferguson

“Comfort, comfort now my people; tell of peace!” so says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness mourning under sorrow’s load.
To God’s people now proclaim that God’s pardon waits for them!
Tell them that their war is over; God will reign in peace forever!

For the herald’s voice is crying in the desert far and near,
calling us 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!

Straight shall be what long was crooked, and 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.

Prayer for Illumination

Holy One, giver of life and light, as your word is read and proclaimed, illuminate our hearts and minds, that by the power of the Holy Spirit our lives may reflect God’s glory and goodness. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Hymn #100: “My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout”

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)

Meditation: “Annunciations”

Call to Offering

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Offering of Tithes and Gifts

Offertory: Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain, Carolyn Jennings

Climb to the top of the highest mountain, joyous tidings proclaim to the world,
Lift up your voice, shout the good news: behold, your Lord comes to you.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will carry the lambs in his arms,
He will ever keep them safe from harm. Behold, your Lord comes to you.

He who made the stars in the heaven, he who fashioned the earth and the sea,
From time eternal he was God, the Alpha and Omega, he.
Behold, your Lord!

He will come in power and glory, he will rule with mercy truth,
Hope of all the nations, light of all the world!

He will love the little children, he will hold them in his arms.
Love him and trust him as a child, behold, your Lord comes to you.

*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

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of your love in Jesus Christ. And thank you for the privilege of sharing what we have received with others, and of receiving the gifts that others share with us.

With our whole being— spirit and soul and body—we rejoice in you and sing your praise because our joy is in you. Amen.

Anthem, “Carol of Joy,” Dan FOrrest, text by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry; Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows, Dark closing in… Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song—Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy! Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow; Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night; Hear angel music—hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song— Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound—A carol of joy! A Saviour is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes! Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted—witness God’s love! Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song! All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn—Now unto you, A Saviour is born!

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 #119, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

1. 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 the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”

2. Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate deity,
pleased in flesh with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”

3. Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us prepare the way of the Lord!

*Postlude: “Christmas Joy,” by Gilbert Martin

Please enjoy these joyful settings of “Good Christian Friends Rejoice” and “What Star is This,” by Massachusetts native and composer Gilbert Martin.


  • John Dittman
  • The Flis Family
    Candle Lighters
  • 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


  • Tom Enokian, percussion
  • Josh Faison, oboe
  • Andrew Glennan, cello
  • Steve Haaser, flute
  • Leslie Lindeman, violin
  • Amanda McKay, viola
  • Ann Quinn, clarinet
  • Stephanie Stevens, piano
  • Laurie White, violin
  • Erin Fils, Wendy Kronmiller, Nancy Miller, and Betsy Hall, handbells


  • Image: “The Annunciation” attributed to Melozzo da Forli. Fresco (1438-1494), in the Chapel of the Annunciation, Pantheon. Rome, Italy.
  • 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
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