Last week, I used the texts for the 4th Sunday of Advent for both MC@H services.
It was encouraging to me to write and lead this service, and our people also were encouraged by it.
Call to Worship
” We’ve gathered today to join our hearts together in worship of God. We gather in thanks and praise for God’s love for us. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered that he is there among them. We recognize Christ’s presence among us as we worship today. ”
Joy to the World
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
O Come All Year Faithful
Reflections on Luke
In the Muppet Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas past asks Ebenezer Scrooge if he’s ever noticed that everything seems wonderful at Christmas. Scrooge says “no, ” and the ghost spends his time with Scrooge teaching him about Christmas spirit, and he sings a song about love – he says wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.
I’d always thought that the Christmas cookies, and movies, and songs and lights and the general spirit of cooperation and good cheer were the reasons that Christmas has always been so special to me. All these things evoke deep, strong feelings of family togetherness, the deliciousness of cocoa and marshmallows and joyful peace amidst the hustle and bustle. I realized a few years ago that the root of those feelings and these foundation of all those jolly Christmas memories is love: the love of family, God’s love and Christ’s love.
The story of Christmas is the story of God’s love for us. God’s love story fills the pages of scripture and we experience it when God creates the world, and when God frees the Israelites from bondage.
We experience God’s love story in the rainbow after the flood and in the giving of the 10 commandments, and in God’s provision in the wilderness.
God’s love story continues when the angel visits Zechariah, then Mary. We experience God’s love story when Mary says “yes. ”
God’s deep love for us is something we probably will never fully understand – and it’s often hard to know how to respond to great gestures of love. Mary is a good model for us.
She receives this news, which is probably many things to her all at the same time: exciting, terrifying, confusing, wonderful news, and her response is ” I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me as you have said. ”
God’s love story is revealed when Jesus is born and in his ministry of teaching and healing.
In Advent, we celebrate God’s wonderful love story. We rejoice with Zechariah and Elizabeth and we watch with anticipation as John prepares the way for the Lord.
We ponder with Mary as we wait for the entire story to unfold.
We breathe in with Simeon the deep peace of relief as we see thepromise fulfilled.
In Advent, we join our hearts with Christians all over the world in joyful praise to God and for God’s wonderful love. It is God’s deep love for us that we ponder as we share in communion today.
The lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed took bread. And after he had blessed it he broke it and said “this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. ”
In the same way, he took the cup. And after giving thanks he said to them “this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Take and drink it, all of you in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and whenever you drink this cup you proclaim the lord’s death and resurrection until he comes. ”
Prayers of the People
Go Tell it on the Mountain
You are deeply loved by God. As our gathering ends and we go our separate ways, remember that. Remember this love story and share it with those around you. God bless you.