Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 21, 2003
Worship 10:00 am Sunday School for all ages 11:15 am

Fourth Sunday of Advent

      "So sing, Daughter of Zion! Raise the rafters, Israel! Daughter Jerusalem, be happy! celebrate!"
                                (Zephaniah 3:14, The Message)

  Morning Praise (9:45 am)

  Call to Worship        (vs. 1 & 4)  "There's a song in the air"

There's a song in the air! There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer and a baby's low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Ay! We shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in his cradle our Savior and King!

 Lighting the candle of Hope       Romans 15:12-13

*Hymn                       (vs. 1) "To us a child of hope is born"                          189

To us a Child of hope is born, to us a Son is given.
Him shall the tribes of earth obey, him all the hosts of heaven.
Him shall the tribes of earth obey, him all the hosts of heaven.

*Lighting the candle of Peace     Colossians 1:19-20, 3:15

*Hymn                       (vs. 1) "To us a child of hope is born"                          189

His name shall be the Prince of peace, forevermore adored,
the Wonderful, the Counselor, the great and mighty Lord.
the Wonderful, the Counselor, the great and mighty Lord.

*Lighting the candle of Joy                1 Peter 1:8-9

*Hymn                     (vs. 2) "Good Christian friends, rejoice"                         210

Good Christian friends, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice.
Now ye hear of endless bliss; Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven's door, and we are blessed forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

*Lighting the candle of Love               John 3:16-17

*Hymn                       (vs. 2) "Oh, how shall I receive thee"                           182

Love caused thine incarnation; Love brought thee down to me.
Thy thirst for my salvation procured my liberty.
Oh, love beyond all telling, that led thee to embrace,
in love, all love excelling, our lost and troubled race.

*Opening Prayer

  Receiving new members by transfer and baptism

  Congregational Response                                                                           794

  Scripture                                 Titus 3:3-7 (CEV)

  Solo                                  "Sweet Little Jesus Boy"                       MacGimsey
                                                         (read lyrics, listen to it sung)

  Scripture                        Romans 6:4-8  (The Message)


  Scripture                             2 Corinthians 5:14-20

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings   (Pre-schoolers leave for playful worship)


  Hymn                             (vs. 1-2) "Away in a manger"                                 194

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

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

  Prayer of the People

  Scripture                               Zephaniah 3:14-20

  Message                           "Raising the Rafters"

*Hymn                                     "Joy to the world"                                        318


#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Lighting the Advent Candles

         (involves four readers who each come forward with a lit candle during the hymn verse immediately preceding their reading.  When the singing ends, they read their verse, using the microphone on the worship center. The worship leader then reads his/her part, while each reader lights their candle on the wreath)

Reader 1 - "Isaiah says, ĎThe root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.í 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." (Romans 15:12-13)

Worship Leader:
We light the first advent candle. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
(light the first candle)

(vs. 1) "To us a child of hope is born"

Reader 2 - "In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross..." So, "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body." (Colossians 1:19-20, 3:15)

Worship Leader:
We light the second advent candle. Jesus Christ is our peace.
(light the second candle)

(vs. 1) "Good Christian friends, rejoice"

Reader 3 - "Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Worship Leader:
We light the third advent candle,  
filled "with an indescribable and glorious joy."
(light the third candle)

(vs. 2) "Good Christian friends, rejoice"

Reader 4 - "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17)

Worship Leader:
We light the fourth advent candle, abiding in love.
(light the fourth candle)

(vs. 2) "Oh, how shall I receive thee"


Opening Prayer

         O Heavenly Father, make the door of our parish church wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship and a heavenly Fatherís care; and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and selfishness.
         Here may the tempted find succor, the sorrowing receive comfort. Here may the careless be awakened, and the penitent be assured of thy mercy.
         Here may those who ask, receive; those who seek, find; and here may all thy children renew their strength in thee and go on their way rejoicing. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[This prayer was found on the wall of the parish of
St. Mary the Virgin (Church of England),
Woodbridge, Suffolk, England.]
From Living Waters, #33, November 1996
Church of the Brethren worship resource

Receiving new members

(invite candidates and sponsors forward)

         Did you know that the first baptisms in America among the plain people known as "Brethren," took place on Christmas Day? Outside Philadelphia, in Germantown, a gathering of believers left the warm building in which they were worshiping, and walked down to the Wissahickon creek. There they broke the ice and proceeded to dunk new believers in the chilly water.

         Today, we are not headed outside to a cold stream, but our task is just as fitting for this Sunday before Christmas as it was for those earlier Brethren in 1723. Two young adults among us have requested baptism - an outward symbol of an inner transformation - committing themselves publicly to Christ. They ask to join with us as we follow Jesus, our Lord and Savior, whose advent we are celebrating. Yet another person will be renewing his baptismal vows, as he unites with us by transfer of letter from another congregation - something we had intended to do last Sunday, until bad weather intervened.

         As is our practice, let's first be introduced. (Church members who have come to know these newcomers take turns "introducing" each of them to the congregation. Then:)

         Today you are being received into this community of faith and into the Church of the Brethren. As part of the whole church of Jesus Christ, we offer you our rich heritage and invite you to share fully in our life and mission.

         As you are received into the Long Green Valley Church, we intend to be a true family of faith to you. We commit ourselves to be for you a loving fellowship, to be a means of grace in your life, and to offer opportunities for worship, study, and service. One of the happiest times in our life as a church is when new people choose to become members. We welcome you with joy.

         Do you believe that Jesus is God's Son and do you receive and trust him as your Savior and Lord?    (I do.)

         Will you turn away from all sin and will you endeavor by God's grace to live according to the example and teachings of Jesus?   (I will.)

         Will you be loyal to the church, upholding it by your prayers and your presence, your substance and your service?   (I will.)

from For All Who Minister, ©1993, Brethren Press, p.135-137.


Congregational Response

Leader:    These persons now presented to you
                     have witnessed to their faith in Jesus Christ
                     and offer themselves as companions in our obedience to Christ.
                It is our privilege and joy to welcome them into our family of faith.

People:    We freely receive you, even as Christ has received us.
                We open ourselves to fellowship with you
                     in worship, study, service, and discipline.
                We pledge our willingness to give and receive counsel,
                     to offer and accept forgiveness in the redeemed community.
                We joyfully accept you as partners,
                     both in the care of our spiritual family,
                    and in our mission to the world.

Hymnal #794
John H. Mosemann, adapted from
The Mennonite Hymnal, ©1969
Faith & Life Press/Mennonite Pub. House.



          ___________, upon your confession of faith made before God and these people, you are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
         As each name of the Trinity is spoken, the minister shall immerse the candidate forward, pushing the head gently and fully into the water. Then, laying both hands upon the head of the kneeling person, the minister shall pray:
          O God, we are thankful for the commitment made today by (name) May (she/he) experience your forgiveness, acceptance, and peace. Send your Holy Spirit upon (her/him) to guide and to empower. Enable (her/him) to walk in newness of life, using (her/his) gifts in praise to you and in service to others. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
         Then the minister shall help the baptized person rise, extend the hand of Christian fellowship, speak a word of blessing, and assist the person in leaving the water.

from For All Who Minister, ©1993, Brethren Press, p.137-138.

2 Corinthians 5:14-20
(adapted from NRSV and New Living translation, omitting vs. 19)

1 - The love of Christ urges us on.
2 - Since we believe that Christ died for everyone,
1 - we also believe that we all have died to the old life that we used to live.
2 - He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life
1 - will no longer live to please themselves.
2 - Instead, they will live to please Christ,
1 - who died and was raised for them.
2 - From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;
1 - even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,
2 - we know him no longer in that way.
1 - So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
2 - everything old has passed away;
1 - see, everything has become new!
2 - All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
1 - and has given us the ministry of reconciliation...
2 - We are ambassadors for Christ.
1 - God is making his appeal through us.
2 - On behalf of Christ, we urge you,
1 & 2 - be reconciled to God.

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

         We are ambassadors for Christ. Thatís what the apostle Paul said. We have been given, by God, the ministry and the message of reconciliation. As you return your offering, think about that responsibility. Does this Christmas week offer any opportunities for you to act upon this calling? Or are you just too busy? Someone always needs to make the first step when it comes to reconciliation. Isnít this what our Christmas celebration is really all about? God took the first step. (pause)    How about you?

Will the ushers come forward now to receive our offerings?

Prayer of the People
(may use the below, printed on back of bulletin)

A Prayer

Leader:      When we are weak and lonely, full of sadness,
                        sick and sin-sick, without hope of gladness...
People:      "Restore us, O Lord; make your face shine upon us
                        that we may be saved." (Ps. 80:3 NIV)

Leader:      When we are homeless, jobless, the rent unpaid,
                        tires bald, insurance due, children afraid...
People:      "Restore our fortunes, O Lord. . . those who sow in
                        tears will reap with songs of joy."
(Ps. 126:4-5 NIV)

Leader:      When we're deceived, sold out, undermined, betrayed,
                        threatened, and confused, justice delayed...
People:      God of all grace. . . after we have suffered a little while,
                        restore us and make us strong in faith and steadfast.
(1 Pet. 5:10, paraphrase)

Leader:      Relationships frailóat home, at work, even at church,
                        and you faraway, O God, we search;
People:      "Restore me and I will return because you are the Lord
                        my God."
(Jer. 31:18b NIV)

Leader:      An unnamed stable, an unborn set for crying,
                        hope perched to be reborn, a full-term mother sighing,
People:      Restore us, O Lord; make your face shine upon us,
                        one more season of Advent,
                        that we may be saved. Amen.

by Sandra Bosserman, district executive
Missouri/Arkansas District, Church of the Brethren
Peace Valley, Missouri
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series"


         "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth."   (Psalm 96:11-13)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson thoughts
from the
Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson
Commentary by
Richard Hughes
(posted on Saturday)

International Lesson
Commentary by
Edwin Elliott


©2003 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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