Order, Words, & Voices 12.11.22

Order, Words, & Voices

12.11.22  Is 42:5-14 & Luke 1:57-63

 Advent 3- (Un)expected Ways

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Magnificat Video (short video/no introduction) Video

Opening Songs: Lynn

Angels We Have Heard on High

O Worship The King

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Rick

Reading Luke 1:57-69, 76-79 Rick

Song & Lighting of 3rd Advent Candle Music – Lynn

O Come All Ye Unfaithful Candle – Pettys

Message (UN)Expected Ways Rick

Music Blessed Be the Name of the Lord Lynn

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through passage Reading)

Music (slides)

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing o’er the plains

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their joyous strains

Chorus

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

Verse 3

Come to Bethlehem and see

Christ whose birth the angels sing

Come adore on bended knee

Christ the Lord the newborn King

O worship the King all glorious above

And gratefully sing His power and His love

Our Shield and Defender the Ancient of Days

Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise

Verse 2

O tell of His might O sing of His grace

Whose robe is the light whose canopy space

His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form

And dark is His path on the wings of the storm

Verse 4

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite

It breathes in the air it shines in the light

It streams from the hills it descends to the plain

And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: Our Responsive Call to Worship today comes from Isaiah 42. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it

Response:  God gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it

Leader: Thus says God, I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations

Response: God said, this is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased

Leader: Thus says God, I send him to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness

Response: God says, I am the Lord; that is my name.

Leader: Thus says God, The former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare 

Response: Before they spring forth, I tell you of them, says the Lord

Leader: Sing to the Lord a new song, sing his praise from the end of the earth

Let the sea roar and all that fills it

Response: Let the desert and towns lift their voice, let the inhabitants of shout for joy from the tops of the mountains

Leader: May we give glory to the Lord and declare his praise

Response: May God show himself mighty against his foes.

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)

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name. Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 

He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 

All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 

Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

 

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”

You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 

to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 

because of the tender mercy of our God, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:57-69, 76-79

Music (Slides)

O come all you unfaithful

Come weak and unstable

Come know you are not alone

Verse 2

O come barren and waiting ones

Weary of praying

Come see what your God has done

Chorus

Christ is born Christ is born

Christ is born for you

Verse 3

O come bitter and broken

Come with fears unspoken

Come taste of His perfect love

Verse 4

O come guilty and hiding ones

There is no need to run

See what your God has done

Bridge

He’s the Lamb who was given slain for our pardon

His promise is peace for those who believe

He’s the Lamb who was given slain for our pardon

His promise is peace for those who believe

Verse 5

So come though you have nothing

Come He is the offering

Come see what your God has done

Message – (Un)Expected – Joy/Gratitude

The Old and New Testament both contain similar elements . Both begin with God, the God who, up to this point from a human viewpoint, had been silent. From a Gospel of Luke perspective, both begin with a man, one named  Adam and the other named Zechariah. One is the first human created, a man formed out of the extraordinary yet ordinary dirt and dust of the newly created earth, and the other, an ordinary man, working as officially, an ordinary priest. Both men also have an auspicious personal start as Adam is first heard in a moment of praise and then, soon after, hiding himself and his sin from God, and the other male, Zechariah, responds to God’s words with his own words of disbelief, doubt, and challenge. Finally, in both stories, both men are silent before God. 

It is that point in Zechariah’s story that we focus today. The ordinary Zachariah was at his ordinary job in the temple, on what was expected to be an ordinary day, his office was  just outside of the Holy of Holies, a room in which an ordinary guy such as Zachariah would never be able to enter, which was a job for only the High Priest. So at this moment, Zechariah, performed his ordinary job, maintaining the burning incense on the two feet tall altar, lighting it at dawn and dusk, and keeping the flame at all the moments in between. 

The people who came to the temple to pray and make sacrifices, would stand outside of the restricted area where Zechariah kept the incense flame going. The delightful aroma, which was pleasing to God, would go before the sacrifices and prayers of the ordinary people. The people would wait until the smell reached God’s nostrils and they would then know that God had heard them. It is important to know and understand that only a heavy curtain separated Zechariah from God’s supposed  presence.  As the pleasing smells wafted away from Zechariah, Zechariah stood as close to God as allowable. 

Catch the significance of this moment, the symbolism of this moment. Zechariah, on an ordinary day, bent over to stir the incense while standing just outside the Holy of Holies, the presence of God. Remember though, that this was the second temple, there was no Ark, and remember that, in many ways, by this time the Temple itself had been corrupted, except for the earthly righteous such as Zechariah. In doing Zechariah’s ordinary priestly duties, he was working on behalf of the people waiting outside, the persons’ whose prayers and sacrifices were the reason Zechariah lit the incense. All the while, Zechariah’s own prayer, the long forgotten prayer he and wife Elizabeth had offered up to God years before when they were younger, turns out to be the prayer that God is now acting upon. And, get this, the separation that kept Zechariah, or any persons, from entering the Holy of Holies would be removed in just a little more than three decades – but for now, Zechariah was restricted from approaching God.

Significant points to understand…

[Slide #1 – leave up screen share through slide #10]

  • When Zechariah could not come before God, God came to Zechariah
  • [Slide #2] When Zechariah had forgotten his prayer, his hope, God still remembered the prayer
  • [Slide #3] Even though Zechariah, as well as the people waiting outside, lived in a continual oppressive fear, they were all just steps away from peace
  • [Slide #4] As all of the Isrealites endured a day to day survival, God was wrapping up the gift of joy for Zechariah, Elizabeth, and all the people
  • [Slide #5] All of this was going on while Zechariah continued to serve God and to serve others, which was his ordinary daily task.

[Slide #6] And, God spoke through the voice of an angel.

[Slide #7] “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.” 

[Slide #8] “He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. The spirit and power of the prophet Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to righteous, and, he will make the people ready for the Lord.” 

[Slide #9] Zechariah, who was not expecting any of this, said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 

[Slide #10] The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in God’s time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

[End Screen Share]

And then Zechariah was silent until the birth and subsequent naming of his son John. Each day, during which he could say nothing, Zechariah would see the evidence of God’s words as his wife’s pregnancy became more and more obvious. He could see the growth of his son taking place within her with his own eyes. And, he smelled the evidence as his pregnant wife as she vomited out the things that were harmful to the baby within her body. During this time, his doubts and surprise turned to expectation and obedience. God had to silence Zechariah for a season in order to permit him to experience this moment of God’s entrance into humanity.

  • [Slide #11 -Screen Share through Slide #18] Let’s take a moment to soak up the reality of Christmas and all that led up to this moment with Zechariah. Over a thousand years prior, God promised a Redeemer
  • [Slide #12] Hundreds of years prior, God had sent prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah to call the people back to himself
  • [Slide #13] After the people rejected the message of the prophets, God sent the Nebuchadnezzar and his armies to conquer the Isrealites and exile them into slavery
  • [Slide #14] During the exile, God sent the Spirit to work in the hearts of the people in the midst of their misery. Wooing them back to himself. The people become a people and the people return to God.
  • [Slide #15] The Isrealites return to God and Jerusalem. They rebuild their lives, the temple, and their relationship with God.
  • [Slide #16- partial] As the exterior of things began to look like what the Isrealites remembered. they go backward to the time when their religion was hollow and heartless. They complained that the Temple wasn’t as nice as before, moving a heartless King taking advantage of the opportunity, restoring the temple to the majesty the people remembered. All the while, making what was holy unholy. God’s voice goes silent for four hundred years, God’s prophets are absent.
  • [Slide #17-partial] God, supposedly in the Holy of Holies, while an ordinary priest is just steps away, doing his righteous duties. A man, who along with his wife Elizabeth, had forgotten their prayers because of the earthly element of time, however, neither has forgotten their God. Both continue to praise their God, both continue to believe in their God, both have now taken up a life of cheering on the prayers of others, all the while expecting little to nothing for themselves.
  • [Slide #18] As Zechariah could not ‘come to God’, God came to Zechariah. Just like God came looking for Adam. Zechariah was moving forward with life, Adam was hiding from the choice of his life.

[End Screen Share]

So, eventually the child was born. Elizabeth and Zechariah were finally parents. The messenger sent by God to be the voice of God preparing the Isrealites for the Deliver was now alive. Formalities called for a naming of the child. Elizabeth said “His name will be John.” Those sharing in the moment voiced their bewilderment and outrage. “He should be name after his father, this child should be named Zechariah! That is how things are done!” they said as they turned to Zechariah expecting him to correct his wife. “His name is John, like my wife said,” the still mute Zechariah wrote on a tablet. And, as the crowd read his response wondering what problems this unusual name would bring to this child, Zechairah’s voice returned and he began to praise God, while, at the same time, he began to answer their doubts and concerns. This child was given, born, and named for their, the Isrealites’, hope, peace, and joy. 

Zechariah begins his song/prayer of praise, he begins with the greek aorist, or past tense words…

“Praise to the Lord God of Israel. God has come to help his people and has given them freedom. God has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David which is what God promised through the holy prophets long ago. God will save us from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. God promised to show mercy to our fathers, and this holy agreement has been remembered. This was the promise God made to our father Abraham, a promise to free us from the power of our enemies, so that we could serve God without fear in a way that is holy and right for as long as we live.

And then the tense of the words of Zechariah transition to future tense as he speaks directly to his newborn son,

“Now you, my little boy, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.  You will go first before the Lord to prepare the way for God. You will make God’s people understand that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.With the loving mercy of our God,  a new day from heaven will shine on us. It will bring light to those who live in darkness, in the fear of death.  It will guide us into the way that brings peace. Amen.”

Zechariah praises God from a place of joy. Nothing about any of this experience was on Zechariah’s radar, it was not the way he expected God’s deliverer to be given. Zechariah knew that this was not going to alleviate his, or Elizabeth’s, problems or heartache, if anything it was going to multiply the difficulties, yet it was still joy. 

Wheaton College NT Professor, Amy Peeler, speaks of Zechariah’s joy this way, 

“(Zechariah’s) joy , the same joy of Mary, is not precisely the joy packaged to us this time of year. It is a joy that does not escape reality but embraces it, a joy that asks questions, a joy that names injustice, a joy that calls attention to the outsider, a joy that understands the price of pain and says ‘yes’ anyway. A joy that can sit in the midst of weeks of solemnity. This is the joy of Advent. “

Theologian Fredrick Buechner, speaking of Hope, says, “Happiness turns up more or less where you’d expect it to show up – a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the God who bequeaths it.”

Hope, Peace, and Joy – Advent, our time, your time, of Great Expectation.

Music 

Blessed be Your name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Verse 2

Blessed be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name

Pre-Chorus

Ev’ry blessing You pour out I’ll

Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in Lord

Still I will say

Chorus

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Verse 3

Blessed be Your name

When the sun’s shining down on me

When the world’s all as it should be

Blessed be Your name

Verse 4

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Bridge

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord blessed be Your name

Community

  • [Slide] Next Sunday, ‘Unexpected Arrival’ Luke 2:1-20
  • [Slide]  Advent Bible Study Concludes this Wednesday, December 7 at noon. 
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day

Closing Peace

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

Benediction

May Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love 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 joyfully come before God anchored on hope and 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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