Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
January 8, 2006
Worship 10:00 am, Sunday School 11:10 am

      "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)

  Morning Praise (9:45 am)

  Call to Worship

*Hymn                            "As with gladness men of old"                             218

*Opening Prayer

  Child Dedication

  Congregational Blessing (In unison)                                                         791

  Scripture                                   Luke 18:15-17

  Alleluia Choir                    "Let The Children Come"                            Kemp
                                         (Pre-schoolers then leave for Sunday School)

  Scripture                             1 Corinthians 12:4-7

  Message                                 "Gift bearing"

  Hymn                                  "There are many gifts"                                 304

  Responding with our joys, concerns, testimonies, or thanksgivings

  Pastoral Prayer

  Responding our Tithes and Offerings


*Hymn                          "Morning star, O cheering sight!"                         214


#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship
(refers to Matthew 2:1-12)

         "Twelfth night" has come and gone, a time to remember once again the visit of the Magi to the newborn baby Jesus. "Where is the child who has been born the king of the Jews," they asked long ago of a fearful ruler in Jerusalem. "For we have observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."
         Have you come to this place and time to "pay him homage," as well? Are you here to remember, once more, this scripture story of a journey to Bethlehem and beyond? Are you willing to be led by a similar guiding light, and be overwhelmed - like they were - with joy? Will you open up your own treasure chest and offer to this Jesus your best gifts? ... With such questions comes the invitation to worship. Therefore, stand (if you are able), and sing. Rejoice and be glad, for it was with such gladness that those "men of old did the guiding star behold." Turn to #218 in your hymnal, and open your heart and mind to the good news.

Opening Prayer

         Not as "three kings from orient are," nor even as self-professed wise men and women, do we come to you this day, O Lord. We are simply those who follow your light. You continue to shine long after our Christmas Eve candles have been extinguished. Your star continues to blaze over this place, and the light of your Spirit resides in each one drawn to your flame.
         What we bring to you this hour, O God, cannot be contained in a pouch made for gold, a box designed for frankincense, or a jar to be filled with myrrh. Instead, it is your gift to us that we bear in our very lives, as we seek to "work out," to bring out into the open of our daily walk, the salvation you have worked into us through your Son Jesus, our Christ.
         So shine, Jesus, shine! Guide this time. Nudge us to walk with you through the scripture story and the narrative of our day-by-day journey life, filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Pick us up when we fall that our steps may be free and forgiven. And open our eyes, hearts, and minds to your glory all around us.
         Amen and Amen!

Child Dedication
(refers to Luke 2:22-38)

         In our journey of worship thus far this morning, we have traveled with wise men following a star, which is St. Matthewís story to tell. However, we know that baby Jesus did not remain in a manger. By the way, a stable full of animals is the setting St. Luke uses to tell the good news, complete with watch-keeping shepherds and "glory to God" angels. Following along with St. Lukeís account in our worship journey just now, we join a young couple as they bring their newborn son to "church." Excuse me, I mean to "the Temple" in Jerusalem. The time had come, you see, for them to present their child to the Lord.

         Imagine, if you will, a crowded place, full of folks wanting to do what is right in Godís eyes. Along comes a man, a woman, and their baby almost lost amid all the goings-on of that day. Some of this familyís hard-earned cash no doubt needed to be spent along the way. I wonder if, on this trip, there was a room instead of a stable for them to stay in Jerusalem And, of course, money was needed to buy the appropriate animal to offer as a sacrifice, for that was what they did back then - a pair of turtledoves, scripture says. Now you know whatís behind the gift "my true love sent to me" "on the second day of Christmas."

         So here come Mary carrying baby Jesus (was he restless that day?), and Joseph carrying those turtledoves (were they flapping away?). St. Luke doesnít share a blow-by-blow account of that simple service. We just assume all went well as this child was dedicated to the Lord. Where the story picks up is in the afterward, as this new family encounters first an old man named Simeon, and then an old woman named Anna, waiting outside the Temple. Tell me, would you have allowed an old geezer to grab your infant and sing a song of blessing? Thatís what Simeon did. Both he and Anna, it says, had been waiting for this moment to arrive, looking for the Messiah. What a strange event that must have seemed to the father and mother of this child. Can you imagine?

         Well, now, there is another young family to whom we need to pay attention on this day, only we donít have to imagine them off the pages of the Bible. They are flesh and blood among us, and they bring their child to present her to the Lord, just like Joseph and Mary did long ago. There arenít any turtledoves this time around, though some folks - Iím sure - say all this church stuff is "for the birds." Believe it or not, I think _____ and _____ are even going to allow this old geezer to grab their baby for a blessing. Stranger things have happened, you know.

         _____, do you want to make sure your parents bring your little sister forward just now? (when they are all up front...) A child is a gift from God. Of course, there are days as children grow when parents wonder how much of a gift they really are - what, with sleep-deprived nights, smelly diapers, larger grocery bills; or, as one year shifts to the next, with curiosity empowered by newfound mobility and an ever-expanding ability to make a mess. "This child a gift from God?" parents may wonder at times. "Well, God bless Ďem before I do!" Of course, these "babies" later become tween-agers then teen-agers, which brings a whole new meaning to sleep-deprived nights and larger grocery bills for parents, among other things.

         Parenting is not for the weak-of-heart. From the perspective of faith, however, at the core of parenting lies this understanding that our children are a gift from God. This doesnít mean they are our possessions, but rather that they are entrusted into our care - to be blessed by and to bless - for a relatively short time. We do not "own" our children. They belong to God, and when we - like Joseph and Mary long ago - present them to the Lord in Godís house - like _____ and _____ today - we are getting this straight. Amen?

         _______ and ________, you have brought your precious (daughter/son) before this congregation to consecrate her/him (or 'them' if more than 1 couple) to the Lord, and to dedicate yourselves to the task of parenting. The time has come for some promises on your part, made before these people.


         Will you pledge to support and love ____________ by providing the opportunity for (her/him) to grow up in the family of faith, with the hope that she/he will some day confess Christ as (her/his) own Teacher, Lord, and Savior? 1
                                If so, say, "We will."

         Will you, to the best of your ability and with God's help, provide a loving family environment in which _________ can grow in love, loyalty, and obedience to God?
                                If so, say, "We will."

         Will you encourage ___________ to grow in faith, so that (she/he) might later be received into the fellowship of the church by baptism, fully partaking in the work and worship of the church?
                                If so, say, "We will."

(optional portion for older pre-school sibling)

         Now _____, you are a very important part of this family. Will you be the best big (brother/sister) you can be to _____, helping your mom and dad?
                                If so, say, "I will."

(optional portion for grandparents)

         Blessed is the child who has faithful, loving grandparents. Not only do you, who stand with this young family today, thoroughly enjoy and help nurture this precious child in your own unique way, you also support his/her parents through the wonder-filled and sometimes frustrating process of parenting. Will you, likewise, pledge to support, encourage, and love ____________ and her/his parents through these awesome years, to the best of your ability?
                                If so, say, "We will."

Congregational Blessing

         Would you in this congregation please stand and turn to #791 in your hymnal. God did not intend families to go it alone in this world. It takes a church to help raise a child in the faith, so I ask you who are gathered here to take seriously your responsibility in Jesus Christ. If you accept the call to be a community of faith to this child and his parents, would you read this pledge with me.

                You have offered your child
                        to the strong and tender providence of God.
                We rejoice with you and give thanks
                        for the gift of your child.
                We promise, with humility and seriousness,
                        to share in your childís nurture and well-being.
                We will support, by our example and words,
                        your efforts to provide a loving and caring home,
                        where trust in God grows and Christís way is chosen.
                Our prayers will be with you and for you.
                May our shared life and witness
                        help make your task both joyful and fruitful. 2


(The child is held and introduced to the congregation, walking down the aisle.
The following dedication and prayer is then spoken.)

                   (full name)         , you are dedicated to the Lord. May all the resources of home, family, and church nurture you and encourage toward your own decision for Jesus Christ. 3

         Lord, thank you for ________.  (She/he) is your child. Bless (her/him) all the days of (her/his) life. Give to (her/his) parents, (her/his) family, and (her/his) church what we need to raise (her/him) in the faith. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

         As the Alleluia choir gets ready to sing, letís turn back to the gospel story thatís been like a star guiding our worship this morning and listen to what Jesus once said, not when he was in the arms of his mother or father, or some old geezer, but when (as a grown man) he extended his own arms to other children.


 1 These three questions were adapted from p. 151-152 of   For All Who Minister, ©1993, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, attributed to Norlyn Davis-Driver.

 2 This is #791 in  Hymnal: A Worship Book, ©1992, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, attributed to John Mosemann, originally found in The Mennonite Hymnal, ©1969.

 3 Borrowed from p. 202, Pastor's Manual: Church of the Brethren, ©1978, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, no attribution given.

Pastoral Prayer


written closer to the time (if not at the moment)


Returning our Tithes and Offerings

         Okay, you "wise guys and gals," we may not be kings from some oriental place, nor magi searching for celestial signs. Even so, we have something more to share. For some of us, this may be the first offering of a brand new year, perhaps stepping up to a larger commitment. May the Lord help you to be faithful in all your commitments. Live and give not from the scarcity of what you can do alone. Live and give, instead, out of the limitless possibilities of what God and you can do together.




(para traducir a espaŮol, presione la bandera de EspaŮa)


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©2005 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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