Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 24, 2000                       Worship 10:00 am Sunday School 11:00 am

Fourth Sunday of Advent

      "And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ...' " (Luke 1:46-47)

 Morning Praise (9:45 am)
 Prelude    "Angels We Have Heard on High" arr. Wilson

 Call to Worship     (vs. 3) "Angels we have heard on high"   197

*Advent Candle lighting               (see back of bulletin)

*Hymn       "Hark! the herald angels sing"      201

 Opening Prayer

 Scripture Reading           Isaiah 9:2-7

 Special Music     "We'll Call Him Jesus"     Shalom!

 Children's Time              "Christmas Love"
        (children then leave for preschool playtime or choir practice )

 Hymn       (vs. 1-2) "O little town of Bethlehem"           191

 Returning our tithes and offerings         Micah 5:2-5

 Offertory          "Chimes at Yuletide"        Mansfield

*Hymn        (vs. 3) "O little town of Bethlehem"            191

*Dedication Prayer

 Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise

 Hymn       (vs.4) "O little town of Bethlehem"              191

*Pastoral Prayer

 Scripture           Luke 1:39-45

 Hymn        "My soul proclaims with wonder"            181

 Message          Reclaiming "Christmas"

*Hymn            "Infant holy, infant lowly"                   206


*Postlude    "March of the Kings"          Handel



Opening Prayer

           "Hark!" those angels, your messengers sang long ago, Lord God. "Hark!" Listen! Pay close attention! You are speaking through them still. Your Word rings out. "Glory!" We have gathered once again to listen, Lord - to open our ears - our hearts and minds. Help us to hear. Forgive our sin, that which gets in the way of listening and following. We confess how quickly and easily we stray from you, like those sheep protected by those shepherds out in that field. Shepherd us, O Lord. Live in us through your Holy Spirit. Right now. We open the door for your leadership. Welcome! This we pray in the name of the one we call Jesus, our Christ, your Son. Amen.

Returning our Tithes and Offerings (Micah 5:2-5a)

Listen to the prophet Micah:
          "But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace."
          "How silently the wondrous gift is given," we will sing of what happened in that "little town of Bethlehem" long ago. Letís respond now, with our tithes and offerings, to "the blessings of the heavens" which God has given and continues to give. Will the ushers come forward?

Dedication Prayer

          O prince of Peace, our shepherd, enter in. We receive you. Receive now our gifts. Help them be put to wise use in the work to which you have called us in this "little town of" Long Green. Thank you, Creator of heaven and earth, for caring about the smallest, the least, the lost, and sending your Son for all the "little" places and people. In his name we pray. Amen.



Childrenís Story

          [After they are finished singing, "Shalom!" (the adult choir) remains up front when the children are invited forward. They (the choir) stand on the chancel (raised area between the pulpit & lectern) with 13 letters, ready to lift them up and hold them, when told, as if they were elementary age children. Leave a slight space between the 6th and 7th persons in the line, as well as the 9th and 10th.]

"Christmas Love"

Did any of you have a Christmas Program at your school this year? You did? I know some of you have school at home, so youíll just have to imagine along with me as I tell you about a "Winter Pageant" that took place at one school.

It wasnít just a "Christmas" program because some children in that school didnít come from Christian families, and schools need to include these children, too, donít they? Jewish children, for instance, donít celebrate Christmas. What do they celebrate? Hanukkah, thatís right. Children from Islamic families are in the middle of a whole month of prayer and fasting called Ramadan. Many African American children will soon be celebrating what? Kwanza. Some children in this area come from lands and religions which donít have a holiday right now, but they do appreciate the coming of winter - which is why some schools have "winter pageants" to include everybody.

Well, this particular school program was like that. In fact, it didnít have much of anything from any religion in it. I guess that was because they didnít want to make anybody mad. Well, it was a very nice winter pageant. All sorts of children had a chance to go on stage and sing for their parents songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

Then it was time for the Kindergarten class to get up on stage. The teacher said they were going to sing a song called "Christmas Love." The whole class was there. Thirteen children on the front, however, had pieces of paper hidden in their hands (point to choir members, "fidgeting" up the steps). On each paper was a letter, which they would hold up one at a time, as the class sang the song. For instance, when they sang "C is for Christmas" the first child held up what letter? "C" Thatís right (1st person does). Then, "H is for Happy." What letter? "H" Youíre correct (2nd person does). Can you guess the next four letters? "R," "I," "S," and "T" (3rd through 6th hold up theirs).

The performance was going smoothly, until they got to the line in the song which said "M is for Merry," as in Merry Christmas. (7th person holds up the "M" upside down) Is something wrong? Oh, youíre right. Itís upside down. Everybody but that child saw it was upside down. Her/his letter was no longer an "M," was it? What letter was it? It was now a "W." Well, the audience, especially the First through sixth graders, snickered at this little one's mistake. But he/she had no idea they were laughing at her/him, so he/she stood tall proudly holding her/his "W." Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued.

The song went on, and they lifted up the rest of the letters to spell out the name of the song: "A," "S," "L," "O," "V," and "E." (8th through 13th hold up theirs as the letter is spoken) All of a sudden, something changed, and a hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. Can you guess why? The letters no longer spelled out "Christmas Love." There was another message. What was that message? Yes. "CHRIST WAS LOVE."

Thatís why we are here today. God loved the world so much that he gave us Jesus. And Jesus Christ was love. And, you know what? He still is.

(Children and choir leave)



©2000 Peter L. Haynes


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