Order, Voices, & Words 12.19.21

Order

Sunday, December 19  (Advent 4), 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am) Spotify – ‘Calm Christmas Music’

Video #1 (4:10)

    Call to Worship – Crown Him With Many Crowns (Tomlin & Redman)

Prayer                                Rick

Music 1                                                               Abbie & Billy

   O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Redner, Brooks, & Fettke)

Today’s Story                            Online – Peyton

                                    In Person- Lily

Music 2                                Abbie & Billy

  Away In A Manger (Murray, McFarland, & Luther)

  Silent Night (Gruber, Young, & Mohr)

Scripture (Matthew 1:19-25)                Dave Cricklin

Music 3/Advent Candle (Participation)            Lighter -Paul & Martha

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

Message    ‘Advent 4 – A Righteous Man”        Rick

Benediction                            Online – Peyton

                                    In Person – Lily

Community                            Rick

Closing Peace                                                Rick

Prayer/Joy to the World (Handel & Watts)        Rick

Closing Audio

Voices and Words

Prayer

Holy God,

You blessed Jesus with a rich line of diverse and interesting ancestors.

Diverse in their journeys and diverse in their relationship with you.

You gave Abraham, David, and Jesus ancestries of stories unlike ours.

You gave Abraham, David, and Jesus ancestries of struggles that call for your power and might just like our struggles.

Their stories were built upon each other and our stories are built upon their stories.

Stories that are raw, painful, messy as well as stories that are refined, comforting, and orderly.

May our stories be a blessing to our descendants.

May our stories call forth those that come after us.

May the footsteps our our stories leave direct their footsteps to Jesus.

Bless our families; those related by blood and those brought to us by love.

For the sake of Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.

Music 1

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

CCLI Song # 3390685

Lewis Henry Redner | Phillips Brooks | Tom Fettke

Verse 1

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

Verse 2

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep

The angels keep their watch of wondering love

O morning stars together

Proclaim the holy birth

And praises sing to God the King

And peace to men on earth

Verse 3

How silently how silently

The wondrous gift is given

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heaven

No ear may hear His coming

But in this world of sin

Where meek souls will receive Him still

The dear Christ enters in

Verse 4

O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born in us today

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel

Today’s Story

Lily: Deliverance. Redemption. Hope. Rescue. Survival. These are the cries of the people. These are often our cries. Cries to God begging for something different, something better, begging for something, anything.

Peyton: God blessed us with free choice, the blessing of living our own path. Every blessing comes with a curse, the curse of free choice is that everyone is blessed with this as well.  We live not only with our choices but also with the choices of everyone else, including the curse of the choices of those that came before us…choices made a long time before us.

Lily: As Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden, unprepared to deal with their nakedness, shame, and fear, they were completely unaware that they were crying out to God, begging for rescue. God blessed them with banishment, opening their eyes to their need for God.

Peyton: In the days of Noah, much like in the days of Lot, the people were crying out to God. Rescue, deliverance, hope. Sadly, even as they cried out to God, they were also living with their own nurtured curse, they were stacking bruise upon bruise, pain upon pain, hate upon hate. God’s rescue was different, it was final. Much like the rescue of those in Sodom, it was the only way to provide deliverance.

Lily: As the Egyptians witnessed the bloodstained doorposts, and the deaths of their eldest sons, they too unconsciously cried out to God. Their rescue followed plagues, pestilence, tainted waters, and darkness…and now, death. For the Egyptians their earthly deliverance was in releasing their own grasp on their slaves and the pressure that put on their politicians.

Peyton: For the Israelites, over seven decades in exile, hard labor, physical plain, hopelessness, squashed hope after squashed hope, and finally, they remembered God. In Remembered they had their deliverance, long before they experienced a physical deliverance.

Lily: Then, 400 years of silence. Four hundred years of fading faith and ever increasing religion and religious practices. Four hundred years of oppression by the political establishment and the religious institution wore the people out, blinded them to the silent God, calloused them to the hope promised centuries before. Still, muted voices were heard, deliverance was not last minute, it came in the right minute. Deliverance came to the now, the present, as well as for eternity. Deliverance, Redemption, Salvation, Presence, Hope.

Peyton: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Music 2 (Away in a Manger/Silent Night Medley)

Away In A Manger

CCLI Song # 38583

James Ramsey Murray | John Thomas McFarland | Martin Luther

Verse 1

Away in a manger no crib for a bed

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay

The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

Verse 2

The cattle are lowing the Baby awakes

But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes

I love Thee Lord Jesus look down from the sky

And stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh

Verse 3

Be near me Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever and love me I pray

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care

And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there

Silent Night

CCLI Song # 27862

Franz Xaver Gruber | John Freeman Young | Joseph Mohr

Verse 1

Silent night holy night

All is calm all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Verse 2

Silent night holy night

Shepherds quake at the sight

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heav’nly hosts sing alleluia

Christ the Savior is born

Christ the Savior is born

Verse 3

Silent night holy night

Son of God love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus Lord at Thy birth

Jesus Lord at Thy birth

Verse 4

Silent night holy night

Wondrous star lend thy light

With the angels let us sing

Alleluia to our King

Christ the Savior is born

Christ the Savior is born

Scripture

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.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

All this fulfilled what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

Emmanuel means, “God is with us.” 

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Jesus means, “God is salvation.” 

Matthew 1:19-25

Music 3/Lighting of Advent Candle

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

CCLI Song # 31054

Oakeley & 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 Man – Participation’

In 1945, near the end of WWII, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin gathered for the Yalta Conference in Crimea to strategize for a post war world.  This is still considered to be one of the most important diplomatic conferences in history. As the men met, the world anxiously awaited the results of this meeting unaware of the side story that was taking place.  The war was largely over, many of the troops were in the process of heading home, and the world was hopeful as these powerful men and their powerful military officers and high level diplomats were working in, as they described it, a ‘dung coated mess.’ The conditions at the sea side resort where they were meeting were so dire that Winston Churchill renamed the place the ‘Riviera of Hades.’

Bed bugs, lice, freezing cold inside of the lodge, outdated electricity systems, and horrible indoor plumbing issues led to a large ditch being dug outside for the world’s leader to relieve themselves The Russians, in an effort to lift morale, began placing a bottle of vodka in front of each room door every morning. While the effectiveness of the Russian vodka approach was never studied, witness were quick to report that meetings later in the day seems to go much smoother as the alcohol kicked in.

Sides stories and background stories provide enlightenment to all stories. The Bible is chalked full of side and back stories. These stories give us the inside scoop.

In the story of Jesus’ birth, the background characters consist of the lowly, downtrodden, hopeless, and yet good and righteous striving people. There is a common thread that winds among these ‘background’  – they are good. Don’t get me wrong, there are some ‘not good’ background characters in the nativity story, Herod for example…actually, Herod may be it for Christmas badness. And, Herod was not going to change, he had given in to those things that nurture badness, things like paranoia, fear, pride, power and control. Otherwise, we may be left with good people in this story. People like Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, shepherds, pagan wise men, an Inn Keeper that provided a stable when there was nothing in it for him, and Joseph.

Honestly it makes sense to question the need for Joseph in the nativity story. Biologically, he is not necessary but, biology is not the only factor in the eternity. Joseph is an important and necessary character in the story. Joesph’s efforts mirror God’s character, God’s grace, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, and love – Joesph was a good person. In Joseph, we see a man living by the breath of God.

Ironically, it is through the biological unnecessary Joseph that we ultimately see our God. God, whose love is extended not only to those that are biological family members, but also to those grafted onto the family tree, and  even those who, through who have different roots but have been invited to still become dependent on the root of God.

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her fiancé Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18-19).

Joseph was a good guy, a deep down genuinely good person. Joseph was respectful to others and genuine in his walk before God. We first meet Joseph in a time of crisis, as had just found out that his fiancee is pregnant which is biologically impossible news. A conclusion of unfaithfulness is the only rational explanation for Joseph. He would have to be incredibly naive not to assume unfaithfulness. The expected and acceptable response was for Joseph to walk away, maybe even walk away hatefully.

But, Joseph is a good person.

Our first introductory description of Joseph is that he was “a righteous man and unwilling to expose Mary to public disgrace, Joesph planned to dismiss her quietly.” Joseph, who had every right to feel betrayed had already made a noble decision – he was going to act out of love not hate.

God takes this man who planned to Do Good and called him, instead, to Do better, To Be Better, God invites Joesph to be a participant in God’s mysterious plan. God was offering Joseph the opportunity to be a sidekick with an extremely important role the greatest moment in history.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and Joesph named him Jesus.” (Matthew 1:20-21, 23–25)

Think of the sacrifice that Joseph made in accepting God’s offer. He was willing to be seen as the Putz of Nazareth forever more, he was willingly accepting the fact that this would be the strangest family dynamic in history, Joseph was saying yes to a wildly uncertain future.

For 12 years and 9 months Joseph was a key participant in the story of Jesus. Joseph’s role was impacting and lasting.  Joseph cared for  and protected Jesus and his mother but his primary role was to name the baby Jesus, and in doing so, Joseph was permitted to define the person and mission of Joseph in just one word.

Joseph name him Jesus, ’God is Salvation.’

Throughout the Bible we see those who were the ‘One Hit Wonders’ of biblical history yet crucial in their presence. We hear of unnamed people who passed through the Red Sea, a prostitute, those who administered justice. Those who were tortured, suffered mocking,  flogging, and chains. 

The unnamed who were stoned to death, sawn in two, killed by the sword. The destitute, persecuted, and tormented. Those that wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes—  

These unnoticed and usually unknown people,  died without having received their promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them those who did. (Hebrews 11:13-14)

This list of the faithful greats, is a list full of names we know and stories we are familiar with. However, mixed in this list, with equal standing, are names and stories we do not know. Nameless, unnoticed, humans used by God because they were ready to say ‘Yes.’

A simple and obedient ‘Yes’ and the offering of a defining name is Joseph’s lasting legacy. Joseph was chosen by God because of his heart seen in Joseph’s goodness. Joseph was usable to God because he was on a never-ending journey to seek, know, and understand God. This, too, is OUR calling, do good and be ready to say “Yes.”

In the end, Joseph did not need need to fight the battles with the unbelievers, he didn’t need to waste his energy on the deniers, he just needed to say yes to God. He just needed to name the child ‘Jesus – God is Salvation.’ He just needed to continue seeking to do right and to let God make all of his goods into greats.

The story of Joseph, is a side story of our sacrificial God, he was a real life human just like us, committed to doing right. He became a small, yet important, part of something magnificently eternal.

Joseph became a part of the story of Emmanuel, God is with us, he became the definer of Jesus, God is Salvation.

Sociologist Rutger Bregman believes that at our heart humanity is good. Religion, especially Christianity, is unable to agree with this. Most of our Christian institutions, especially those like us who hang on to a lable of evangelical, hold on to a concept called Total Depravity meaning that there is nothing good in us. This is an odd especially for a people who believe that our very life is the breath of God. But, there is good there. We can work tirelessly to hide that good, pushing it down, hiding it under a basket until we forget the it is there but it is there. It calls out to us to participate in the goodness of God. It moves us to let it out of the darkness so the world can see it. And, in the process, God makes that good into great.

Think of good people in scripture, people like Noah whose ‘good’ was attested to by all that had permanently locked all of their goodness away. Noah, a good human, was good and seeking more good, and in the midst, God asked him to participate in a plan. Think of another Joseph, whose brothers had locked their goodness away. Think of apostle Paul whose goodness was almost hidden until he recognized the voice of God over the voices of religious and politicians. All of these key bible character, these key good people, God was able to break through to their goodness to which they each responded with a ‘Yes.’

In this room sit a lot of good people, on line with us are a lot of good people, in churches all around this community and this world right now there are a lot of good people, in homes, jobs, coffee shops, and everywhere around the world, there are a lot of good people. People whose very breath is the breath of God. God is calling all of us to let lift up the basket that is hiding true goodness, to let that good be seen by a world that does not even recognize it is looking for goodness. To see that, to be that, we must walk away from the voices, things, and even institutions that call us to hide good. We must remember that our source of life is God, our deliverer is God, our Salvation is God, our Hope is God, our Peace, is God. God is good, he sent his son, he loves us.

Let’s pray.

Benediction

Lily: As we go, may we be a people of hope. May hope live in our hearts and be visible to all we encounter. May we share hope as we notice the humanity of all and take the time to listen to their story.

Peyton: May we be a people of peace. May peace live in our hearts and be shared with all. May we share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear, by listening to all sides of the stories. May we see, feel, and share peace, as we go out into the wonder of God’s creation.

Lily: May we be people of joy. May joy live in our heart and be shared with all we meet. May we see the good in each other, the good times with each other, as well as the good times to come. May we see, feel, and share joy as we go scatter into the marketplace and public square.

Peyton: May we be a people of love. May we let love live in our heart and shared with all. May love be evident to those we see regularly in our community and those we may never see at the edges of our earth. May love affect our respect for God’s creation and God’s created. May we see, feel, and share love.

Lily: As we go out into the wonder of God’s creation may we share love, joy, peace, and hope with all those that God places in our paths. As we go may we never fail to remember that, even though there may be no vacancy at the inn, there is still a miracle in the stable.

Community

This Saturday, Christmas Eve @ 6pm (online – lord’s supper ready)

Next Sunday – No Worship December 26

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

KY Disaster Relief at GFnorman.com

Covid Best Next

Closing Peace

May the hope of a stable go with us into a world of ‘no vacancy’ signs.

May the joy of a birth go also with you.

Go in hope, peace, joy, and anticipation.

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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