Order, Words, & Voices 12.04.22

Order, Words, & Voices

12.04.22  Luke 4:46-55 – (Un)expected Gratitude

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Lynn

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Morrens

Reading Rick

Song & Lighting of 1st Advent Candle Music – Lynn

Holy Is His Name Candle – Andrea

Message Luke 1:46-55 Rick

Music Joy to the World Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through passage Reading)

Music (slides)

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With th’angelic hosts proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Verse 2

Christ by highest heav’n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of the Virgin’s womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

Hail th’incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus our Emmanuel

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Verse 3

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace

Hail the Sun of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

O come O come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Chorus

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Verse 2

O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Advent, is our season of great expectation when we travel back to witness the Israelites – many had forgotten God’s promise while others held onto a growing hope.

Response: May our faith be inspired by their hope.

Leader: A season immersed in the remembered and forgotten prayers. Prayers that voiced their recognition of God’s character and nature.

Response: May our prayers be of gratitude and remembrance.

Leader: Prayers are the voices of our hope. Voicing our efforts to seek to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in the daily ordinary of our lives.

Response: Prayers of our willingness to live out God’s mercy, compassion, and grace.

Leader: The season of love, peace, joy, and hope.

Response: The season of God’s love, peace, joy, and hope.

Leader: Hope, the element that permitted Mary and Elizabeth to recognize and receive God’s unexpected calling of each of them in the mundane and miseries of their daily lives.

Response: May hope focus us to seek and search for truth.

Leader: Peace, the element that accompanies Hope, the element that also requires our feet, our hands, and our lives, the element that allows us to trust and remember in all circumstances.

Response: Peace, the element that allows us to say yes to God’s calling.

Leader: Peace, our immersion into hope.

Response: Peace, the presence of our deliverer.

Join me in voicing the words of the prayer of Jesus.

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our trespasses, while we forgive those who trespass against us.

And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)

After the messenger from God told Mary that she would birth the Messiah,  Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond-servant; For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is to generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things, And sent the rich away empty-handed.

He has given help to His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,

Just as He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Music (Slides)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

And my spirit exalts in God my Savior

For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness

And my name will be forever exalted

For the mighty God has done great things for me

And His mercy will reach from age to age

Chorus

And holy holy

Holy is His name

Verse 2

He has mercy in ev’ry generation

He has revealed His power and His glory

He has cast down the mighty in their arrogance

And has lifted up the meek and the lowly

He has come to help His servant Israel

He remembers His promise to our fathers

Message – (Un)Expected – Gratitude

[Slide #1 – leave screen share up until after slide #3]

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

– Bishop Desmond Tutu

I got stuck on Hope this past week. Last Sunday, Hope Sunday, our first Sunday of Advent, I preached that the element guiding the responses of Elizabeth and Mary was hope, especially, their response to their own part. The question for me has been, ‘Is hope just a magical superpower that God gives to a very select group of people, is it limited to just a few?’

Beginning Sunday evening this question loomed over me as I read through a book Steve Petty introduced me to a couple of weeks ago. It took about forty-eight hours for it to hit me that the book is about Hope – specifically the Science of Hope…suddenly I began to read a bit more diligently attempting to apply this to Elizabeth and Mary. It is not really a religious book although the topic is Holy. The Author, Dr. Chan actually points out that religious leaders have largely relegated Hope to something of the future – to heaven and  the return of Jesus. This caught my attention because his perspective has long been my opinion as well. In reality, however, Jesus came to earth for our earthly existence as much as for our eternal existence. 

One of the illustrations shared in the book is about Emeka Nnaka, a young man paralyzed in an OKC semi-professional football game. Dr. Hellman presents the impact of hope on Emeka and how he intentionally strategized to nurture his hope. Emeka now says,

[Slide #2]

“Hope is not a step in life, it is a stance.”

  • Emeka Nnaka

[Slide #3]

“For Christians, hope is ultimately in Christ. This is the hope that our faith has proclaimed for centuries, the hope that we ourselves claim Jesus is. The hope that, despite the fact that sin and death still rule this world, Jesus has somehow conquered both. The hope that in Jesus, and through Jesus, all of us stand a chance of somehow surviving them as well.”

  • Theologian Fredrick Büchner

[Exit Screen Share]

We, modern privileged Christians, live in a fantasy that the Christian life is effortless once we accept Jesus. A fantasy where we close our eyes, sing our songs, quote specific stand alone verses, pray a prayer, and then our part in salvation is complete, then we can coast. We dismiss the intentional work and labor of God, we fail to grasp the earthly aspect of salvation, sadly, we then devalue the work of God in Jesus. Jesus, who walked the exhausting and sacrificial path of mercy and compassion. Jesus, who, even at a childhood age, was already searching for truth and understanding, engaging with religious leaders to better immerse himself into truth. The pursuit of Jesus wasn’t just about religious knowledge though, Jesus sought to know God through creation and mostly through engagements with God’s people. One of the initial discipleship immersion experiences Jesus provided for his disciples was to send them out among the people. To experience human frailties, sickness, oppression, misery – for them to grow in their walk with God.  To understand that Hope comes from a full knowledge that develops from personal effort.

This is our first advent of 2022 epiphany – Hope is actually a verb not just a passive noun. Mary and Elizabeth had hope, because they had spent their life paying attention, holding on to the hope of the promise of God to send a deliverer. Listening to the religious teachers, experiencing people, looking for God, paying attention to all that took place around them. 

God calls people who have hope because they have been building their hope muscle. They have been paying attention, they have lived with the constant expectation, and they are willing to be a part of God’s work. Look at the people who God calls. Noah, is not distracted by the sin of his community, even his neighbors have nothing bad to say about him, but, all the while, he is listening for God. Abraham, grew up in a religious family, a family that used false religions for their own gain, but still, the thoughts about God were all around him, he was listening, when God unexpectedly called him. The apostle Paul, a religious zealot, traveling to persecute believers, but, even he was listening and heard God. And, the young teen named Mary, listening without  speculation, nurturing an ever increating listening ear, and at the right time recognized and heard God.

[Slide #4 – leave screen share up until after slide #7]

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

  • Luke 1:28-33

[Slide #5]

Hope, a verb, is followed by another verb, Peace.

Mary, even in the midst of this mind blowing news, quickly recognized that her world had not just changed but that she was on a path with no navigable map. No human had ever taken this path before, and no human would ever travel this path again. She would face the unimaginable, her son would endure the unfathomable. And still, in this incredible moment, as a young teen, she stood in the place of an inner peace permitting her to sing a prayer encapsulating her hope, a hope centered on the God she already trusted.

The relationship of Hope and Peace in their times of oppression and fear was, and is, a persistent dichotomy for people of faith. The Israelites, most of whom had become weary and doubtful, lived in a religion that was tethered primarily to stories of the actions of their mighty God, which took place thousands of years prior, and the words of prophets spoken hundreds of years prior.  On the one hand they heard of a promised deliverer and then at the same time they experienced a daily life that commonly beat them down. A life that was inhospitable to hope and even less nurturing of peace.

[Slide #6]

This was the same world that Jesus spoke of when he told his followers to go in peace, that a life lived by the sword would lead to a death by the sword, while, also saying  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

  • Matthew 10:34-36

[Slide #7]

And yet, at Jesus’ birth, the angels announced to the shepherds who were sitting on the hillside, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.” 

  • Luke 2:14

As Mary sung her prayer of praise she lived in the midst of a promise that did not match her reality. Words that would be spoken by Jesus much later, are words that described the existence of her people, and really of all humanity. Jesus, words of picking up a sword, was not a calling to a battle but to a stance of righteousness. A calling to confront and challenge evil by being living visible challenge to reality. The reality was that evil, oppression, hatred, and persecution would still exist, even in their own homes, however, Jesus sacrificial life and death would be a sword of truth. Our Hope plants us in the Peace of God and God’s unseen actions.

Jesus – the prince of peace…the prince of our peace.

This peace where Mary stood was not magical, it did not come in an isolated place far from the unholiness of humanity, she was smack in the middle of it, and the rest of her life would be a constant slap in the face, her face, of that truth. Even as a young teen, she chose to stand in peace. Hope along with Peace were intentional elements of life. Mary proclaims the impact of God’s actions on her own life, honestly accepting her future even in the midst of the pain ahead. 

Note – When Mary uses the word ‘blessed’, it is not the same as our use of the word in our first world self-centered interpretation, Mary understands that true blessing will mean rejection by others. Mary sings out what she knows about God, what she has learned about God, the acts and truths about God that she stands on. Then Mary acknowledges God’s mercy and compassion towards the downtrodden as well as God’s thoughts towards the prideful and arrogant.   It was in this unfelt peace that Mary sang her prayer…

“My soul exalts you Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in you, God my Savior. You have noticed me and have not dismissed me as everyone around me does. Whatever my life will look like from this point forward, I know that now that all generations will understand that this path was, indeed, a blessing. For you God, you are the Mighty One, and you have done great things for me; and holy is your name. Your mercy is to generations past, to my generation, and to generations yet to come…generation after generation, toward those who fear you.  You, God, have done mighty deeds with your arm, you have scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. You, God, have brought down rulers from their thrones, and exalted those who were humble. And God, you have filled the hungry with good things, and sent those whose hope is in their riches and privilege away empty-handed. God, you have given help to your people Israel. A help that has been a constant reminder to us of your mercy, just as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and his descendants forever. Amen.”

“Mary sings about the God who saves not just souls, but embodied people. The God she celebrates is not content merely to point people toward heaven, instead, God’s redemptive work begins here on earth. Rather than being satisfied with comforting the lowly, Mary’s Lord lifts them up, granting them dignity and honor, a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. At the same time, God shows strength by disrupting the world’s power structures, dethroning rulers, and humbling the mighty.”

  • Judith Jones, Vicar

Mary held to the Hope of the coming Messiah, the Deliverer, the Redeemer – she had no idea of what it would look like, but, still, that hope was at her core. We, too, hold to that Hope, Hope of arrival of that same Messiah, Deliverer, and Redeemer. Hope that holds us together. Hope that allows us to exist in the midst of an unseen and unfelt Peace, Hope and Peace that bring us to prayer and praise, the voice of Hope and Peace.

May this Hope and Peace be at the forefront of our thoughts in this season, may we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen mighty acts of God. May we too come before God anchored by our God centered hope and calmed by God’s peace. 

Music 

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

No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

Far as the curse is found

Far as far as the curse is found

Verse 4

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

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected’ Advent 2, 12.04 Unexpected Gratitude, Luke 1:46-55
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study continues this Wednesday, December 7 at noon. 
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day
  • Budget/Leadership Affirmation Gathering 10 minutes following worship today.

Closing Peace

May the Hope and the Peace of the Lord go with you. And also with you.

Benediction

May Hope and Peace be at the forefront of our thoughts this season. May we open our eyes to see and recognize the unseen daily mighty acts of God. May we come before God anchored by our God centered hope and calmed by God’s promised peace. May we see the unseen, may we seek the strength to do more than to just persevere. May we be satisfied only when we know God more today than yesterday and less today than tomorrow. May we look to experience God’s mercy, compassion, and grace, as acted out towards others through each of us. Go in Hope and Peace.

Published by rickanthony1993

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

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