Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 23, 2001
Worship 10:00 am Sunday School for all ages 11:15 am

Fourth Sunday of Advent

      "Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose Mary to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this...."
                                (Matthew 1:19-20a)

*Call to Worship

*Hymn                                    "Joy to the world"                                           318

*Opening Prayer

  Lighting the Advent Wreath - the fourth candle

  Hymn                             (vs. 1 & 2) "Away in a manger"                                194
                                       (children come forward as we sing)

  Scripture                                 Matthew 1:1-17

  Childrenís Time             "Surrounded by Witnesses"

  Hymn                                (vs. 1) "What child is this"                                    215
                                    (children leave for choir or pre-school play)

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

*Response                          (vs. 3) "What child is this"                                    215


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

  Hymn                               (vs. 3) "Away in a manger"                                   194

  Pastoral Prayer

  Shalom!                 "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"        Longfellow/Calkin

  Scripture                                 Matthew 1:18-25

  Message                          "Breaking a Resolution"

*Hymn                             "To us a child of hope is born"                               189

*Closing Litany                                                                         (back of bulletin)

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship

         Though Christmas is still two days away, we are gathered together with the awareness that the One upon whom our Hope rests, the Prince of Peace, the Greatest Joy the World has ever known has already come. And yet, we also know that despair, conflict, and sorrow still hold this earth in their grip. The kingdom of God has not arrived. Godís will has not yet been fully done, even as in heaven it is a done deal. The Great Advent-ure awaits.
         Today, nearly on the eve of Christmas, we celebrate Godís Love coming to the world in Jesus Christ.
                              He was born. Yes!
                              He showed us how to live. Yes!
                              He died for us. Yes!
                              He rose from the grave. Yes!
                              He will return. Yes!
         Joy to the World! Stand, if you are able, and sing!


         The Worship Leader for today prefers to pray as led in the moment, not with words written ahead of time. Usually, the pastoral prayer is the same.

Lighting the Advent Wreath

         [During Advent this year, the candles are being lit by persons who have made life commitments during the last twelve months - baptism, transferring of membership, marriage. Today, a young couple with their one year old child who joined the church and dedicated their firstborn last summer - will light the candles]

1 - The season of Advent continues. Today we will light the candle of love.

2 - No other word so completely describes what we know of our God. "For God so loved the world" that a child was given ... Godís love in human form.
                       (The three previous candles are relit)

1 - We light the candle of love to proclaim that Godís love is revealed in the Child born in Bethlehem,

2 - and we are challenged to proclaim and reveal that same love as we live out our faith here in Maryland.
                       (The fourth candle is lit)

[slightly adapted from liturgy written by and belonging to Rev. Moira B. Laidlaw.]

Matthew 1:1-17
A "Cloud of Witnesses" Reading

         [A multitude of readers are scattered throughout the congregation, each standing and reading their short portion (i.e. "and ____ the father of ______ ,") from right where they are.  No pauses between readers.  Each is ready to begin as soon as the previous person ends -. thus reading as one. "WL" is worship leader.  Links under most every name are to a page where an audible pronunciation of that word is given.]

WL - An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac,

            - and Isaac the father of Jacob,
            - and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
            - and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
            - and Perez the father of Hezron,
            - and Hezron the father of Aram,
            - and Aram the father of Aminadab,
            - and Aminadab the father of Nahshon,
            - and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
            - and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab,
            - and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth,
            - and Obed the father of Jesse,
            - and Jesse the father of King David.
            - And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
            - and Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
            - and Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
            - and Abijah the father of Asaph,
            - and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat,
            - and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
            - and Joram the father of Uzziah,
            - and Uzziah the father of Jotham,
            - and Jotham the father of Ahaz,
            - and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
            - and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
            - and Manasseh the father of Amos,
            - and Amos the father of Josiah,

WL - and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon:

            - Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
            - and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
            - and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
            - and Abiud the father of Eliakim,
            - and Eliakim the father of Azor,
            - and Azor the father of Zadok,
            - and Zadok the father of Achim,
            - and Achim the father of Eliud,
            - and Eliud the father of Eleazar,
            - and Eleazar the father of Matthan,
            - and Matthan the father of Jacob,

WL - and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Childrenís Time
"Surrounded by Witnesses"

         This sanctuary is full. Yes, it is full of all sorts of decorations. I asked you to watch, didnít I, for new additions every Sunday - though last week we didnít have time to meet and talk about it during worship. There is even more today. What did you notice?.....
         There is more here, though, than decorations - as nice as decorations are. Did you hear how the story of Jesus begins in the New Testament, read by all those people in the congregation just now? All sorts of names, some of which are hard to pronounce. Who were they? Thatís right - they were Jesusí family, his grandparents, great-grandparents ... (etc.). The story begins with them to say that when Jesus came, he didnít pop out of nowhere. He was connected to the big story of Godís people. This was his family. Now, God was doing something brand new and special with him. Even so, Jesus was a part of those who were born before him.
         Just like you are a part of those who came before you. Each one of them had a name. Just like you. Once upon a time, they were all children, excited about some of the same things that excite you. Those who came before you - your spiritual family - have passed on the story of Jesus to you. They are witnesses to the story. Whenever we gather together as believers in Jesus, we are surrounded, the Bible says, by a "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1). This room is full, not just of decorations, but of those who have gone before us. Did you notice them, also? Probably not. But like the angels who are Godís messengers, who help and sing with us - those who lived the faith before us are a part of us even now. Remember that as you celebrate Jesusí birth this week.


Returning our Tithes and Offerings

         In the story as we have received it, strangers bearing gifts were already on their way, guided by a light in the heavens. What light has been guiding you to this moment? What things are you "wondering" over, pondering them in your heart, maybe even wrestling with them? As you lift up your eyes to the light of Christ, make these things part of your offering as well. Bring to God your very life - the best and the rest.
         Will the ushers come forward to serve?

Closing Litany

One: Child of Hope, be born again into our world.
All: Wherever there is hopelessness, wherever there is pain, wherever there is fear of failure, come with healing in your hands.

One: Son of God, be born again into our world.
All: Wherever there is bitterness, wherever there is apathy, wherever faith has died, come with healing in your hands.

One: Prince of Peace, be born again into our world.
All: Wherever there is conflict, wherever there is arrogance and greed, wherever there is injustice, come with healing in your hands.

One: Wonderful Counselor, be born again into our world.
All: Wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever families are broken, wherever depression belittles the human spirit, come with healing in your hands.

One: Great and Mighty Lord, Savior, be born again in each of us.
All: Jesus, you know all our names. We would kneel at the stable with the shepherds and sing with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth and good will among all people." So be it.

written by Pattie Stern, McPherson, KS for the
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin


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International Lesson thoughts
from the
Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson
Commentary by
Richard Hughes
(posted on Saturday)

International Lesson
Commentary by
Edwin Elliott


©2001 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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