Worship Order for
"Hark!" In old English, this word means
"Listen!" Itís a command, however, with a bite.
When the angels suddenly appeared that first Christmas night,
those shepherds out in their fields were too frightened to do
anything else but pay close attention to what was said and sung in
the sky. They harkened!
What about us?
Has this story we have received grown so familiar that it no
longer bites us? Or do we allow it to grab our attention such that
all we can do is turn away from every distraction and listen?
your ears and eyes! Pay attention this hour! Donít let the
familiarity of the music lull you to sleep. Instead, listen to
what you sing. This first hymn, for instance, is packed with
meaning. Charles Wesley wrote the words to teach about the
"Incarnation of Christ." Originally, there were ten
verses. We will only sing the three found in our hymnal.
As we sing
them, however, "Hark!" Pay
attention! Listen as, perhaps, you have never listened
before! "The herald angels sing ... GLORY!"
listening, Lord. You have our attention. We open not only our ears
and eyes, but also our heart, mind, and strength to the awesome
glory of King Jesus, our Immanuel. May you be "newborn"
in us right now through your Holy Spirit.
ways in which we have turned from you, O God, and how we have been
distracted from what is most important. May the words we have just
sung reveal the truth - "God and sinners reconciled" in
Christ Jesus, your Son, who was "born to raise us from the
earth, born to give us second birth."
We hearken to
you, Lord. Speak to us. In Jesusí name we pray. Amen.
Please be seated and turn to the back of your hymnal to
#714. May we continue to "hark!" to listen, as
we speak together some of the basics of the faith we have
received. Please read the words that are in bold print.
Donít, however, let them just slip from your lips. As
you speak, you also become a messenger of the message. So
He was the Son of God.
He was the Son of Man.
He came down from heaven.
He was born in a stable.
Kings came to his cradle.
His first home was a cave.
He was born to be a king.
He was a child of Mary.
He was the greatest among rulers.
He was the least among servants.
He was loved and honored.
He was despised and rejected.
He was gentle and loving.
He made many enemies.
He counseled perfection.
He was a friend of sinners.
He was a joyful companion.
He was a man of sorrows.
He said, "Rejoice."
He said, "Repent."
"Love God with all your heart."
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
"Don't be anxious."
"Count the cost."
"Ask and receive."
In him was life.
He died on a cross.
He was a historic person.
He lives today.
He was Jesus of Nazareth.
He is Christ the Lord.
adapted from We Gather Together, Kenneth I. Morse,
©1979 Brethren Press.
with our Tithes and Offerings
there will be gifts under the tree in most of our homes. Weíve
spent a lot of time and effort (if not also a great deal of money)
looking for just the right gift for a loved one. No doubt, others
have been doing the same for us. Maybe weíre still in the middle
of the search.
Just now, letís
hearken, letís pay attention to another kind of gift. Let me
ask, is there a present under your tree for Jesus? Maybe not one
which is wrapped in pretty paper with a ribbon and bow. This is,
perhaps, not something that can fit into any box you have stored
in your house for such a time as this. Even so, is there a gift
for Jesus from you?
over this year which will soon draw to a close. What have you done
to give glory to the newborn King? In what ways has this King been
newborn in you? Think "outside the box." You might be
surprised. The gifts we give to those we love, after all, are more
than what can be boxed and shared on one day this week. So, also,
our offerings to Christ arenít solely what we wrap in an envelop
and place in the plate.
Christmas is a
time to remember Godís awesome gift to us in Jesus. But itís a
gift that keeps on giving year-round. In return, are our gifts to
him year-round? Are you making a connection between Christmas and
the rest of the year? Thatís something to ponder as the
offerings plates are passed. As you give, be in prayer, responding
to these questions. Donít, however, leave the questions in the
plate. Take them with you. May the same be said of you as was said
of the mother of Jesus, "Mary treasured all these words
and pondered them in her heart." (Luke
ushers come forward to serve.