Order, Voices, & Words

Order

Sunday, December 5  (Advent 2), 2021

Opening Audio(10:15am)

Spotify – Calm Christmas Music

#1 ONE Video #1 (4:33)

Call to Worship – Silent Night (Heavenly Peace) Bowe, Maverick City, and We the Kingdom

Live

Prayer Rick

Music 1                                                        Abbie & Billy

   Angels We Have Heard On High (Barnes & Chadwick)

Today’s Story Online – Mercer

In Person-?

Music 2 Abbie & Billy

  O Holy Night (Adam & Dwight) – No Slides

Scripture (Luke 3:1-18) Dave Cricklin

Music 3/Advent Candle Lighters – Scoggins

  Oh Come All Ye Faithful (Oakeley & Wade) Music -Abbie & Billy

Message    ‘Advent 2 – A Righteous Man” Rick

Benediction Online – Mercer

In Person – Beth

Community Rick

Closing Peace                                         Rick

Prayer/Joy to the World Rick

  Joy to the World (Handel & Watts)

Closing Audio

Spotify – Calm Christmas MusicVoices and Words 

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

With joy and awe we praise you for claiming us as your sons and daughters, and for pouring your Holy Spirit upon us. 

Help us to prepare this earth for your glory, and shine your light on all your faithful children, 

for the sake of the one whose birth and baptism brought renewal and transformation to this world, Jesus Christ.

Amen. 

Music 1

Angels We Have Heard On High (Deo)

CCLI Song # 7149964

Barnes & Chadwick

Verse 1

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly swinging o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Verse 2

Shepherds why this jubilee
Why your joyous strains prolong
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Verse 3

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Today’s Story – No Slides

Beth: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” 

Malachi 3:1-2

Mercer: A voice cries out in the wilderness: “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 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.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

Beth: Then there appeared to Zechariah an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

Luke 1:11-17

Mercer: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:76-79

Beth: We must not miss how subversive John the Baptizer was. The word of God arrived not from the royalty of politics and government, nor from Israel’s religious establishment. It did not come from someone finely dressed living  in an expensive palace, nor from the leaders in the Jerusalem temple. Instead, God’s word come did not come from the halls of power  but from a wild and wooly man stepping out of the desert, on the fringes of society rather than in its halls of power. 

Mercer: This was all acceptable until John opened his mouth saying,“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” He cautions the crowds not to rely on their ancestry to save them, and warns that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Beth: The crowds asked, “What then should we do?”. John’s response is simple and direct: “share your food and clothing with those who are in need.”

Mercer: His baptism was much more than just external act of repentance, it was an internal preparation for the coming Messiah. His message was for everyone, including the tax collectors and the soldiers. It was a reminder of all the things that matter to God, things such as justice, the poor, the vulnerable, the victims of injustice, and the downtrodden. 

Music 2

O Holy Night – No Slides

CCLI Song # 32015

Adam & Dwight

Verse 1

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
O night divine

Verse 2

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night O holy night
O night divine 

Scripture

John went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:”


‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. … all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

“Do not say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from stones – every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 

Tax collectors asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” John said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 

Soldiers asked, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

People were filled with expectation, questioning if John might be the Messiah. 

John replied, “I baptize you with water; but one is coming who is more powerful than me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.” 

John proclaimed the good news to the people.

Luke 3:1-18 

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

C. Frederick Oakeley | John Francis Wade

Verse 1

O come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye O come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Verse 2

Sing choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
O sing all ye bright
Hosts of heav’n above
Glory to God all
Glory in the highest

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Verse 3

Yea Lord we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

Message ‘A Righteous Word’

Sometimes hope can lose its focus, get off course, forget the core of the hope, abandon the true source of the hope itself. Sometimes hope is overcome by fantasy – guided by selfish agendas and one dimensional outcomes. Sometimes hope quits being hope and descends into a passive hatefulness and vengeful retributions. 

With our Hope, we sometimes hope need a period of debriefing to prepare us for the realities of hope’s fulfillment. Hope, even before fulfillment, often times needs to enter a season of self reckoning where we pause to ask the question, “Am I ready and willing to be present in this Hope fulfilled regardless of how it plays out?”

Sometimes, often times, most times – we are not ready for God’s answer, we are not prepared for all that accompanies that fulfillment leaving us to deal with disappointment, frustration, and aggravation.

On November 11, 1918 the armistice ending World War 1 was signed. At the time it was considered to be a fulfillment of hope and prayers for all the world.  At point during our four years of hoping and praying here in the U.S. as well as all around the globe, the hope and prayers for a quick end to the war morphed into the hope this would be the ‘War to end all Wars’. After the rejoicing settled down and reality began to be more and more visible, humanity stood at the site where hope and truth had met, a place that few were truly prepared to stand. There the hopeful stood, attempting to grasp the reality of over 16 million dead bodies of soldiers and civilians. As unity began to disappear we found an increased prejudice, hatred, and nationalism in our nation as well as nations around the world. On top of this, many could not help but recognize the possible horrors ahead as news traveled of new weapon technology and even chemical warfare. Economic uncertainty, revolutions, isolationism, a pandemic, and then, another World War. We were not ready for our hope to be fulfilled.

It was not the wrong time for Hope’s fulfillment but, instead, it was the undeniable evidence that we had not prepared for, and looked ahead to, the day we would see our hope become a reality. Humanity had been praying and hoping but we had not really been expecting, considering, or planning – we were not prepared. 

Preparation is not really a human trait, it requires work and sacrifice.

On this, our second Sunday of advent 2021, our candle is Truth and Reality, both of which are companions of The Word.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. 

What has come into being in the Word is life, and the life is the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through Jesus. 

John was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, Jesus, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  

John testified about Jesus and cried out, “This is Jesus, of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 

Jesus, God’s only Son has made God known. When the religious leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” John confessed “I am not the Messiah.” 

Then they said to him, “Well, who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. 

Then they asked John, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 

John answered them, “I only baptize with water, but there is one already among that I am not worthy to even untie the thong of his sandal.”

John 1:1-27 (NRSV)

Notice that John does not call for a resurrection against the oppressors or the religious establishment. His call for actions are to prepare the people for Jesus – not actions of revolt or rebellion, they are not hateful or demeaning – they are all personal and positive actions.

  • “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
  • “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor.’
  • “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

They are all ‘DO BETTER’ and ‘ BE BETTER’ commands. They are all very doable. 

An  Action – Do stuff that shows you are truly repentant, let people see a much greater proof than a mere dunking in dirty water.

A Mentality – Recognize that you are the one responsible for your choice to follow or to not God, no one else, not even your ancestors.’

A Love – Love others as you love your self…as much as you love your stuff, your rights, your freedoms, your agendas, your religion, your culture, your …

John is bringing us to the very real and very human efforts necessary for us to be prepared to recognize and follow Jesus, AND, they are all the actions of something much deeper.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

ποιετε εθείας τς τρίβους Κυρίου

(Poieite eutheias tas tribous Kyriou)

Make straight (level or true) the (much traveled road) path of the Lord.

John is saying this command to a people for whom faith had become a series of religious actions. Make sacrifices, travel to holy destinations, wear religious approved clothing, follow religious morality rules, and so forth. Faith had become religion and religion had become a series of hurdles and detours distracting us from faith, hinder us from looking and listening for God. God’s path for humanity, the path that they led us to God, had taken on turns, dead ends, missing bridges, and a constant barrage of potholes. Religion had become a series of hoops to jump through and little else.  

John called the people to simplify their faith, to make it a path that focused not on hoops and practices but on truth and love. A faith that was centered in the heart as well as the mind. A faith that empowered caring instead of a practice of meeting institutional obligations. John was calling the people to God’s truth, to God’s reality, not a version of truth or even a human practice of truth. John was calling them to the life Jesus would live out in front of them. 

Notice one other element of this story – the religious leaders. They came to John and asked if He was the Messiah. They were actually open to the possibility. However, it was the insinuations of John’s preparations that would eventually offend them. Nothing that John, or even Jesus, said was new, it was the very words of their Law and prophets. However, it was the reminder of truth, truth that cast a revealing light on the paths of religion , that was uncomfortable and unacceptable.

“We’d better get on with it.” The Apostle Paul later says to the believers,  “Strip down what you do not need to wear, start running—and never quit! Don’t carry extra religious fat, no parasitic sins or heartless religious practices. 

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this same race we are in. Study how Jesus did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed and an exhilarating finish alongside God. 

Jesus could put up with anything along the way: the Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again and again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through.  That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1b-3 (MSG)

John is using very raw and honest words meant to speak to the heart and mind. The people had painted pictures of Jesus in their minds which were would not match up the Jesus they were about to meet. Instead, the reality of following Jesus would prove to be a call to sacrifice, filled with uncomfortable moments, and an all encompassing invitation to follow Christ. It would be a call to be loving, merciful, and compassionate. It would be the truth, it would be a light that would shine through the darkness, and on many places they would prefer no to be lit up.

We look at Easter as the gift of God’s sacrifice and at Christmas as the gift of Jesus birth. However, the gift is the same, the gift is the sacrifice. God’s most difficult moment was seeing the Son on the cross, the excruciating requirement of forsaking his own son – however, the most painful moment, was giving the son in a totally fragile and dependent state to a people who had repeatedly rejected the Father and would, ultimately, crucify the this beloved only son. The birth was the initial moment of God’s sacrifice for all of humanity.

Christmas seasons is not just a time for an endearing story. It is instead, an annual moment at the intersection of our hope and truth. A confrontation with Truth. It is the reminder that God is active and present in our life now just as God was present then. It is a reminder of our intentional God. Our God who works in every moment of our reality, bringing light in the darkness, light that cannot be extinguished. A reminder that God is active even we God cannot be seen, or even heard. Thousands of years after that first gift was given, this season is a reminder of our need for preparation. A preparation that moves from hope to truth. Hope in the reality of God’s presence, hope in the our honest reality. 

A preparation that tells us to do and be better. A preparation that calls us to be hope and light bearers, living out the sacrifice, mercy, compassion, of the original gift. Not depending on who we are related to, who we know, or even the impressive nature of our life story. It is a continuous journey of hope and truth and a consistent preparedness at the intersection of the two.

God still sends messengers.

Messengers like John the baptizer to remind us of God’s promise and our need to be prepared, 

Messengers like pandemics that reveal to us our inattention to God’s call to Love, 

Messengers like loss to make us aware of God’s call to trust in God alone. 

Messengers that call out to us daily 

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Let’s pray.

Benediction

Beth: As we go today, we go in a constant pursuit of preparedness. Prepared to recognize God. Prepared to follow God. Prepared to seek the path set before us by God.

Mercer: We go in the way of the Word, the Truth, the Deliverer, the Redeemer. Our hope and our reality.

Beth: We seek to follow the path of God.

Mercer: We work to bear the fruits worthy of presenting to God.

Beth: We determine to seek God and no other.

Mercer: We commit ourself to serving others.

Beth: We go out from here with joy and awe praising God for giving us his own.

Mercer: We leave this place as God’s beloved.

Beth: We leave this place with hope.

Mercer: We go from here redeemed by God’s sacrificial gift that first appeared in a manger.

Beth: We go from here to a world that God loves.

Community

Community

Next Sunday – ‘3rd Sunday of Advent – A Righteous Might’ (Luke 1:26-55)

Christmas Eve @ 6pm

No Worship December 26

2021 Theme ‘2022 – 52 weeks of a totally Different perspective of the Bible.’

Covid Best Next

Closing Peace

May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you.

And also with you.

Go in hope, in anticipation, in peace, and in joy.

Music 4

Joy To The World (Antioch)

CCLI Song # 24016

George Frideric Handel & Isaac Watts

Verse 1

Joy to the world the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room
And heav’n and nature sing
And heav’n and nature sing
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing

Verse 2

Joy to the earth the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat repeat the sounding joy

Verse 3

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders wonders of His love

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

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