Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 7, 2014
Worship 10:00 am          Sunday School 11:10am

Second Sunday of Advent

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

(Isaiah 40:3)

  Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)      (vs. 1-3)O come, all ye faithful      212
  Prelude                         “O Little Town of Bethlehem”              (two versions)
                             (children come forward to quietly help prepare)

  Lighting the second Advent candle

*Call to Worship    (based on 2 Peter 3:8-15a)

*Hymn                         Come, thou long expected Jesus                       178

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                               Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

  Preparing a song                This is Christmas morn                          (insert)

  In a nutshell

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

  Offertory                             “O Lord Most Holy”                                  Abt
                              (Please sign the attendance pad and pass it on)

  Hymn                     (vs. 1-2)It came upon a midnight clear                     195

  Scripture                                      Mark 1:1-8

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
                                 (please be brief, and aware of God's listening presence)

   Hymn                     (vs. 3-4)It came upon a midnight clear”                     195

  Pastoral Prayer

  Hymn                       (vs. 5)It came upon a midnight clear”                      195

  Scripture                                   Isaiah 40:1-11

  Message                           Under construction

*Hymn                      On Jordan’s banks the Baptist’s cry                      183


*Postlude                           “Hark! The Glad Sound!”                       unknown

*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Lighting the second Advent candle

               The last announcement is an invitation for the children to come forward. During the Prelude, they will assist in placing the Bethlehem backdrop above the worship table. Thus, they continue to help prepare our worship space for Christmas, a process they began last Sunday, and will follow through with the next two weeks. At the end of the Prelude, they should be arrayed in a line from the pulpit to the wreath, ready to help light the first and second candles in the following:  


           Though none of our scripture texts this day mention Joseph and Mary traveling to his ancestral home of Bethlehem, a scene depicted on our bulletin cover, that journey is a significant part of the story we tell at this time of year. Good news arrived in this world on the road, away from the comfort of home. Preparing the way involves leaving behind the familiar.

             Last week, we began Advent with the lighting of the “Hope” candle. No one embarks on what might be a difficult journey without hope. To relight that candle, (light a small “Christmas Eve” candle in holder) let’s carefully pass this light from one child to the next until it reaches the person who will re-light the first candle. As we carefully pass it, also pass along the word “hope.” Say it to one another as you pass. (do so, returning the smaller candle, now unlit)

            Now we turn to the second candle, which, like the first, is not about sitting comfortably at home, where everything is just fine and dandy. “Peace” is a journey word. It’s for the road, which is often under construction. God’s peace is meant for times when we are scared to take our next steps, and the Lord holds us closely and whispers, “Shhh. I am here with you. Don’t be afraid.”

Cover design by Paul Stocksdale
©2014 Church of the Brethren

              In order to light the second candle, (again light the small “Christmas Eve” candle in holder) let’s carefully pass this light from one child to the next until it reaches the person who will light the second candle. As we carefully pass it, also pass along the word “peace.” Say it to one another as you pass. (do so)


Call to Worship

One:  Come to a time of repentance remembering that
             one day with God is like a thousand years
                 and a thousand years are like one day.

All:    Our God is patient with us,
             not wanting any to perish
                 but all to come to repentance.

One:   Wait upon God's timing
             leading lives of holiness and godliness.

All:    We wait for new heavens and a new earth
             where righteousness is at home.
                 We long to live in peace with all.

written in 1996
by Mark Flory Steury,
then pastor of Mack Memorial Church of the Brethren
currently pastor of Neighborhood Church of the Brethren,
Mary Jo Flory-Steury,
then pastor of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren Dayton, Ohio,
currently Associate General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren,
Office of Ministry, Human Resources
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085,
"The Living Word" Series

Opening Prayer

By your timing, O Lord,
        we travel onward in this Advent journey of faith.
    More steadfast than the beating of our own hearts is your love.
    More sure than our uncertain steps is your mercy.
    The path upon which you lead us
        is truer than the compass of our desires.
    You await us at the end of the road,
        over the horizon beyond which we cannot see,
            at the fresh start of a new day.
    And you travel with us along the way,
        strengthening our body for the journey.

Help us to release the loads we do not need to carry.
Loosen our grip upon the sin which clings too closely,
    that it may fall from our shoulders and not weigh us down.
Guide us to make peace with our brothers and sisters,
    forgiving and being forgiven,
        in concert with the cross upon which
            you have made peace with us.
                This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


In a nutshell

In his homespun way, a storyteller in our congregation, Ed Lewis, will share (not read) something like the following, as a bit of gospel-in-a-nutshell for all ages:

            I was a real Three Stooges fan when I was little. Recently I was thinking of their "Walnut" routine. Do you remember when "Curly" would crack open a walnut, throw away the meat of the nut, and eat the shell? Everyone knows you throw away the shell!  Right?
            Yet, over the years people have found many uses for this shell, the portion which we usually throw away.  In one, these ground up shells are put through a special machine under high pressure to blast away carbon that forms inside of combustible engines. In another, it's been discovered that these same walnut shells (ground up) make excellent kitty litter.
            I think this is wonderful, for God created the shell as well as the meat of the nut. As creations of God ourselves, we sometimes feel useless (like the shell). We may think we serve no useful purpose. But that is not God's plan. Moses could have felt like a shell with his speech problem, yet God knew he was anything but "useless." How about David? Was he, as a boy, useless when facing a giant? God knew better!
            God gives us all talents that are useful. If we believe and search we can find what God has intended us for. NEVER to be discarded.   A true waste of God's creation.
            The walnut is also a part of Christmas tradition in Slovakia and Russia. There, walnuts are tossed to the corners of the house (shell and all) for good luck. Since the inside of the nut is divided into four sections, it is believed that it represents the seasons of the year. If you crack it open and one or more of the sections look healthy you will have a good year. However, if you crack it open and one or more of these section are black and shriveled up - look out. That is, of course, superstition.
            May the blessing and talents that God has blessed you with be felt and utilized to the max.   Praise him!


Returning our Tithes and Offerings

             Calling all “nuts.” You are not “useless,” even if you are a bit cracked. You have much to offer, as God makes use of you, shell and all.

             As you return your regular offering just now, pay attention to the bulletin insert which tells about our Church of the Brethren Advent Offering. In the weeks ahead, respond to this invitation with your own special offering, as you feel led. Use the envelope provided. Any checks you put in them should be made out to our congregation, and we will then send one check for all.

Ushers, guide our giving.


Pastoral Prayer


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


Isaiah 40:1-11

 The book of Isaiah can be divided into three parts. In the first, God speaks through this prophet to the people BEFORE their nation is torn apart, with the best and brightest sent into exile in Babylon. The third and last portion is addressed to God’s people AFTER the exile is over, and they try to start over back home. The middle portion of Isaiah, which begins with the 40th chapter, is spoken to the people DURING their exile, as their time of affliction is drawing to a close. What they need is to summon up the courage to leave the only home many, if not most of them, have ever known, and head back to whatever remains of their once promised land.


          As this chapter begins, God is calling Isaiah to be an encourager. This prophet is to now speak a word of comfort to people who feel they are worthless and that God has abandoned them. These eleven verses are thus a conversation between God and Isaiah, a dialog. Use your imagination as you listen. Perhaps these words can also speak to us today.  Hear the word of the Lord.


(either have 2 persons read, or have 1 person physically shifting location between parts)



1 Comfort, O comfort my people,
      says your God.

 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
      and cry to her
   that she has served her term,
      that her penalty is paid,
    that she has received from the Lord’s hand
      double for all her sins.

               3 A voice cries out:

 “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
     make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
     and every mountain and hill be made low;
   the uneven ground shall become level,
     and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
     and all people shall see it together,
     for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

               6 A voice says, “Cry out!”



    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
       All people are grass,
          their constancy is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
     when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
     surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
     but the word of our God will stand forever.



9 Get you up to a high mountain,
      O Zion, herald of good tidings;
   lift up your voice with strength,
      O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
      lift it up, do not fear;
   say to the cities of Judah,
      “Here is your God!”

10 See, the Lord God comes with might,
      and his arm rules for him;
   his reward is with him,
      and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
      he will gather the lambs in his arms,
   and carry them in his bosom,
      and gently lead the mother sheep.


from the New Revised Standard Version
copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved



In whatever wilderness you find yourself this week,
        prepare the way of the Lord.
            Put on your Spirit hard hat for the task at hand.
    God is at work along the way of our faith journey.
        The glory of the Lord is being revealed,
            even when it doesn’t seem to be happening.
                Don’t lose hope.
                    Shalom! God’s peace be with you.



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

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources

Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

International Lesson:
International Bible Lesson
a weekly column by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
in "The Oklahoman" newspaper
also found

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2014 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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