Today we light the third of five candles in our Advent wreath. Each candle this year represents a different understanding of Incarnation. As Christians, we are all called to be shepherds of the Good News of Great Joy. We have heard the angels sing and we have seen this thing which has taken place. As we light our Third candle let us, like the Shepherds, consider how we, too, must return to glorify and praise God for all we have seen and heard.
Dear God, we are the shepherds. All year we keep watch over our own –our own interests and our own livelihood. Help us, in this season, to look up and see beyond ourselves. And having seen, let us never stop praising and glorifying the birth of Promise and Hope for all the world. Amen.
OPENING HYMN NO. 16: “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” – GABRIEL’S MESSAGE
CALL TO CONFESSION – MacKenna Williams
Now is the time to wake from sleep. Salvation is near. Let us confess our sins: Shepherd of Israel, God of hosts, we have turned away from you, neglecting the welfare of your creation, ignoring the plights of your people, and taking from the Earth what we cannot give back. We have not helped our neighbors in need, kept peace within our families, or tended the vine you have planted in our own lives. Forgive us and lead us to a more gracious life. In your compassion, turn us to your way. Restore us, O Lord, God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. In Christ’s name, hear our silent prayers of return …
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Every valley is lifted up; every mountain, made low. Now the glory of the Lord is revealed, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God.
CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE, HYMN NO. 1:
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.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
TIME WITH THE YOUNGER DISCIPLES – Margaret Hill
MUSICAL OFFERING – The Chancel Choir: “A Winter Night” – DAVID WAGGONER
SERMON: INCARNATION: SHEPHERDING – Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor
PROCLAMATION HYMN NO. 50: “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow” – AFRICAN AMERICAN SPIRITUAL
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – FROM A BRIEF STATEMENT OF FAITH
In a broken and fearful world, God’s Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace. In gratitude to God and empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and faithful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and earth, saying: “Come Lord Jesus!”
TIME OF GIVING THANKS – Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor
CELEBRATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD’S PRAYER
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:
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
And the power and the glory, forever.
PRESENTATION OF GIFTS, TITHES, AND OFFERINGS
OFFERTORY: “He Shall Feed His Flock” – G.F. HANDEL
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
We give you thanks and praise, O God, that you have built us up in faith and bound us together in love. By your grace, may all that we do show the glory of your name and serve the good of your people, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
CLOSING HYMN NO. 17: “‘Sleepers, Wake!’ A Voice Astounds Us” – WACHET AUF
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION – Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor
THE RINGING OF THE BELL
POSTLUDE: “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” – M. KIM