Order, Words, & Voices 12.18.22

12.18.22  Luke 2:1-20

 Advent 4- (Un)Expected Arrival

Order

Pre Worship Music

Leave Screen Share On from Opening Songs through Passage Reading

Opening Songs: Christian

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 

O Come O Come Emmanuel 

Call to Worship Response and Lord’s Prayer Rick

Reading Luke 2:1-20 Online-Randy

Song & Lighting of 3rd Advent Candle Music – Christian

Hark The Herald Angels Sing Candle- Leightons

Message (UN)Expected Arrival Rick

Music What Child Is This Christian

Community/Closing Peace Rick

Benediction Rick

Post Worship Music

(Leave Screen Share up through Lord’s Prayer)

Music (slides)

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 

Come Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

Born thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now thy gracious kingdom bring

By thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to thy glorious throne

You’re the Joy! You’re the Hope! 

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

O Come O Come Emmanuel 

O come O come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

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

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

O come Desire of nations bind

All peoples in one heart and mind

Bid envy strife and quarrels cease

Fill the whole world with 

heaven’s peace

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel

Shall come to thee O Israel

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: The prophet Isaiah went to Bethlehem to anoint the King to replace King Saul whom God had rejected

Response: Mary & Joseph, went to Bethlehem to obey the edict of a false savior.

Leader: Power turned King Saul’s humility into paranoia, allies soon were seen as foes.

Response: Caesar’s brutality demanded fearful people to proclaim himself as  Savior.

Leader: While Saul was rich and powerful, David was neither neither, instead, he was seldom noticed, and never considered.

Response: Caesar was rich and powerful, Mary and Joseph were lowly and insignificant.

Leader: Saul lived in a palace, the shepherd David lived in the fields watching over the sheep.

Response: Mary and Joseph now lived in a manger, a cave, smelling of cattle and sheep.

Leader: Samuel looked at all the sons of Jesse, none were the chosen one of God, until he saw the lowly shepherd David.

Response: Despised outcast shepherds were first to hear of the birth of Jesus.

Leader: God said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint David for he is the chosen King.” A smelly outcast shepherd anointed King.

Response: The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. For Behold, I bring you great news.”

Leader: Two Kings, both rose out of insignificance, both came from the insignificant city of Bethlehem.

Response: Eternally significant saviors for all humanity.

(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 (No Slides)

A decree went out from Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken. This was while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All the people went to their hometowns to register for the census. 

Joseph went from Galilee to Bethlehem, for he was an ancestor of David, to register along with Mary, who was pregnant. 

In Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Some shepherds were spending the night out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks. An angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around the angel; the shepherds were frightened. 

The angels said, “Do not be afraid; I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; today in the city of David Savior, Christ the Lord has been born for you.”

“You will find the baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.” Suddenly a multitude of angels appeared praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, On earth peace among people with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had departed, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the angels told us has happened.” They went in a hurry and found Mary and Joseph, with the baby lying in the manger. 

The shepherds told Mary and Joseph what had been told to them. Everyone who heard was amazed by the things the shepherds said. 

Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all that they had experienced.

Luke 2:1-20

Music (Slides)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

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

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

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

Message – (Un)Expected – Arrival (Love)

This past week, I was blessed with a group bible study that was like none other. Our Wednesday bible study, which consisted of a group aged in our sixties to nineties, had what I believe was a true Holy Spirit moment. I don’t think any of us realized it at the time but the Spirit was moving as our minds were working. It was a moment of full participation, full listening and contributing, fully open minds to truth, as we dove into some words which are usually used with little thought, but the further we considered, the deeper we got.Those words were Hope, Faith, and Joy, which led us to the book of Hebrews and soon other words were added to our deep dive – words like conviction, assurance, certainty, proof, approval, commendation love, and probably others that I have forgotten.

The significance of that moment really did not hit me until I got home and looked at my freshly raked back yard and said to myself, “I love my backyard.’ At that moment all of those previous words began to once again fill my brain, and I asked myself, “What the heck do I mean when I say ‘I love my backyard?’”

[Screen share through Slide #17]

[Slide #1] Hope, Peace, Joy, and our advent candle today, which is Love. Not only do all of this tie in together, but they also are part of the great ball of twine combined with those other words, conviction, assurance, certainty, proof, approval, commendation, reality, and Faith. And, they are all part of our great expectation that is Advent. 

[Slide #2] Before we begin with Love, I have to first, take us back to our first and third Advent words for some additional thoughts, the words Hope and Joy, starting with Hope.

[Slide #3] A friend from seminary days, has been in treatment over this past year for lung cancer. This past week Charlene was declared free of any evidence left in her body. Because the specialists know that just because they do not see it means that it isn’t there, they are starting her on a new chemo drug that is showing promise among non-smokers who now have lung cancer. She still had been through this with another cancer issue years before and understood she was probably not finished with this cancer. As she left the doctor’s office she saw this sign reminding her of the hope she still held to even when reality gives her a different, non hopeful, message.

[Slide #4] Secondly, is our word from last week – Joy.  I learned a new word this week, Gaudete, a word that means ‘Joy in the darkness, hope in despair.’ This was what the original week 3 advent emphasis before it was decided that Advent needed to sound happier thus the singular ‘Joy’ replacing Gaudete.

[Slide #5] Feeling all of our grief, but giving ourselves permission to feel joy when it comes to us in the midst of the grief. Joy doesn’t denigrate our grief, it helps give it meaning. 

[Slide #6] Even in the darkest nights, the light still shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. To the degree we allow ourselves to grieve deeply is the same degree to which we can feel joy deeply. 

[Slide # 7] When we muzzle our grief, we also muzzle our joy. That’s why the two go together so often. Joy is an act of resistance in the darkest of situations. 

[Slide #8] Even just a brief moment of joy gives us the power to keep going when things are toughest. It reminds us why we press on. 

  • Rev. Jakob Topper

[Slide #9] Now let’s get to our fourth candle which represents the word Love.

Theologians Huey and the News teach us that when you first feel love it will make you sad, but, when you next feel love it might just make you glad.

[Slide #10] I Corinthians 13 explains love a bit further by detailing the look of Love – ‘Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered,’

[Slide # 11] ‘Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’

[Slide #12] and about love it says, ‘Of faith, hope, and love – Love is the greatest.’

[Slide #13] In 1 John we find the source of love, ‘Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God.’

[Slide #14] As well as the definition of love, ‘God is love.’

[Slide #15]  And, the revelation of Love, ‘the love of God was revealed among us – God sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through the Son. This action of  love had nothing to do with us loving or not loving God, It was totally about the fact that God loved us and sent the Son to be the propitiation, the atonement, for our sins.’

So, ‘What is love? Is it merely affection and emotion, is it just responsibility and work. The full and true definition of love is revealed to us through God’s Christmas sacrifice’

[Slide #16] God’s sacrifice of Jesus was not really at the cross. God’s sacrifice took place when God placed Jesus in Mary’s womb who then gave birth in the stable. It was in that moment that God gave the Son. The nativity scene is actually the evidence of God’s sacrifice, not the cross. It was humans that sent the willing Jesus to the cross – God sacrificed Jesus over three decades earlier.  It was not just the Jews and Romans who enacted this sacrifice, it was the actions of all mankind, including each of us. Jesus was the perfect and holy lamb, the only sacrifice that was sufficient offering for our rejection of God, for our sin.

[End Screen Share]

The nativity story details God’s act of love which was totally and brutally selfless. The act was sacrificial, the act of sacrifice was love.

Sacrifice. While there are some instances where sacrifice is an act of worship and praise, sacrifice is usually an act of reconciliation. An action causing great loss that will open the door to reconciliation with another or reconciliation with God. 

In the old testament there are three detailed instances of human sacrifice, or near human sacrifice, among the Isrealites. Two of those were offered by Kings Ahaz and Manassah, who both offered their own sons. Neither sacrifice was called for by God, but instead was an offering mimicking the acts they had witnessed in the foreign nations who had rejected the true God. Another was the asinine act of the judge, Jephthath, who, on his own, offered a sacrifice of his daughter. This too was an act not called for by God, instead it was an act of a verbose man of power desiring to make a grandiose proclamation his battlefield victory. Just as God had not demanded the sacrifice, God also did not condone Jepthath’s act of the sacrifice. All three of these sacrifices were done without purpose, without calling, and without need of any kind, they were not selfless. 

There is only one biblical example of human sacrifice that is called for by God, it is an act of obedience.  Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham’s willingness was an act of total selfless release, of brutal sacrifice. God made the command to test Abraham, a test to affirm to Abraham that he was the correct person to father the nation which would be the avenue of God’s sacrifice for all nations. A sacrifice that was not really about the sacrifice but about the heart of God’s chosen vessel – Abraham. God released Abraham of his obligation once Abraham’s heart and mind was revealed to God. 

Abraham, being a flawed human himself, was not the spotless lamb, nor was his son Isaac, and therefore neither was not worthy to make the salvific sacrifice that God would make releasing the Son to humanity.

As with all of us, Jesus began the journey to dying the moment he was born. It is natural, the exposure to an outside world, the choices we make, our diets, our risks, our mental traumas, everything about our earthly existence lends itself to being a contributor to the aging process. Scientists say that our bodies can begin the breakdown process as early as our twenties. 

For God, who is timeless, giving the Son was a sacrificial acceptance of death. While, at the same time, being all knowing, God was fully aware of the brutality of Jesus’ life and death to come.

For Jesus, the dying process began early and only accelerated as he accepted his purpose, walking through the baptismal waters on his way to the cross. The weight of an unholy world on this truly holy person was gradual at first, the struggle against sin, the misery of the oppressed, the pain of the sick and the poor, the burden of the downtrodden and the dismissed. All of this stuck to him like leeches sucking the very life blood out of him. Then, the closer he came to the cross, the more the weight bore down on Jesus. Experiencing the personal intensity of human emotion, listening to the trauma of Marth, kneeling down to cry with Mary, smelling the stench of human death on his dear friend Lazarus. And then there was rejection from his own who chose to accept half truths and conspiracies rather than to truly seek truth, which was followed by  the cross, where Jesus hung not just bearing the weight of his own human experience, but now also crushed under the weight of the sin of all humanity which he now bore. 

This had all been on the mind, and heavy on the heart of God as he sacrificed the son handing the infant Jesus over to humanity decades earlier.

So, while all humanity, including each of us, walked actively on the chosen path of rejection of God – God sacrificed the Son for us anyway. That is Love. And, furthermore, it is the act of love, the sacrifice, that could only be offered by God, and only the Son, God, was worthy to be that sacrifice. Just as humanity were the only ones who could conduct the sacrifice offered by God on their, on our, own behalf. A sacrifice that, on earth, began with a young teenage girl giving birth in a stable.

In this Christmas season, and on this Advent day of Love, let us realize that God’s salvific sacrifice that was revealed in the manger. When the God that is love performed the ultimate act of Love. A gift of grace, an undeserved Christmas package offered to us, by the only one who could give this gift. A God that chose to love us into, and through, Salvation rather than force us into obedience.

Love. Let us pray.

Music 

What Child Is This 

What Child is this who laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping

This this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste haste to bring Him laud

The Babe the Son of Mary

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and lamb are feeding

Good Christian fear for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading

Nails spear shall pierce Him through

The cross be borne for me for you

Hail hail the Word made flesh

The Babe the Son of Mary

So bring Him incense gold and myrrh

Come peasant king to own Him

The King of kings salvation brings

Let loving hearts enthrone Him

Raise raise the song on high

The Virgin sings her lullaby

Joy joy for Christ is born

The Babe the Son of Mary

Community

  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, December 24 @ 6pm
  • No Worship Gathering on Christmas Day or on New Years Day
  • Sunday, January 8, Matthew 3:1-17, ‘Through Water’ (the start of an 18 week journey through the gospel of Matthew taking us up through the ascension of Christ) 

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, peace, joy, and love. 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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