“… You are blessed…” 

by Pastor Matt Jackson


Sunday, December 20, 2020

ORDER OF WORSHIP – 4th Sunday in Advent

Prelude                                  In the Bleak Midwinter / Away in the Manger

Welcome & Lighting of Advent Wreath

Well, Good morning, welcome to First Church, and we trust you are safe and well. This is the 4th and final week in the season of Advent 2020, and what a season it has been…. seems every day there is something else added to the apple cart to cause it to tip one way or another.  But this morning, as we do every Sunday, we gather to take a break from the rigors of our daily routines, a time to just settle down and put aside all the challenges, and take a front row seat at the feet of the Cross… a special time to focus on God and what God would have us to hear and know.  So, thanks for joining us.  It’s Sunday morning, let us pray…

Heavenly Father, You have given us yet another week of life and in this moment, we pause to say “Thank You” for that gift.  As we gather, there is so much going on in each of our lives, and in the broader community as well.  But we gather, looking to You once again, to remind us of Who You Are and for us to confirm Who You Are in Our Lives.  May all that we share this morning, and everyday hereafter, reveal our faith, our baptism, and our commitment to be Your people. In Your Holy Name we pray and live.  Amen.

Hear these words of Scripture:  “A Voice cries: In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God… In accordance with God’s promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is at home… The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

The Advent wreath holds in it the candles to be lit each Sunday, and in the center is the Christ candle to be lit on Christmas Eve.  These candles signify the coming of God’s Light into the world.

The first candle in the Advent wreath is the candle of Hope.

The second candle in the wreath is the candle of Peace.

The third candle is the candle of Love.

And today’s candle is the candle of Joy – the joy that comes from our hope, peace, and love all of which signify the coming of God’s Light into the world, and particularly today’s light in celebration of the Christchild’s pending birth. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, and Amen!

Let us pray…

O Gracious God, today the circle is almost complete… the Light from the candles confirms that we are people of hope, peace, love, and great joy.  There is only one candle left to light – the Christ candle that proclaims the birth of Your Son, Jesus.  As we look to that moment, we ask that You continue to bless us all as we journey down paths of faith and life that present an array of opportunities.  Grant us, O God, the faith, and conviction of that faith, to live in Your Grace and Mercy, and fulfill Your Will, in our lives, and through ministry to others.  Thank You and Amen.

Call to Contemplation         O Little Town of Bethlehem

Call to Worship                    (abbreviated from Lavon Baylor’s “Led by Love”)

P: Welcome to a safe place, a place to find rest and renewal.

C:   Our spirits are rejoicing as we proclaim God’s faithfulness, and steadfast love.

P:   God looks with favor on the humble.

C:   God strengthens those of us who are weak, and lights His paths and walkways.

P:  Blessed are those who walk in God’s Light, and say ‘Yes’ to God’s Call.

C:   Let the heavens proclaim the wonders of God, and let all the earth rejoice in Christ’s coming!

Hymn                                      I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Scripture Reading:              Luke 1: 1-4, 5-7, 11-25                             Ernie Evans

A Musical Meditation           Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming

The Message                        “… You Are Blessed…”                       Pastor Matt

Hymn                                     The Family Prayer Song

Prayers of the People

This is the time when we put aside all the raucous that seems to dominate in our lives.  It is a time when we pause and just settle into a quiet moment to chat with our God.  It is when we reach out and address those parts of our lives that are beyond us, in our best of efforts, and ask God to hear our prayers for those we love (like family and friends and colleagues, etc) and for those we have only heard about…. But all for whom matter to us, and once we have name them, we find solace and peace assured that God will bless us all. 

   Please join me now in a time of prayer…  

O Gracious God, once again we come asking for Your Touch upon those we name in the silence of these moments.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, that produces fruits of the spirit like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  O God, we pray that You grant those we are about to name whatever is needed to meet their needs.  Surround each named with kind and supportive professionals, family and friends that will provide the very best of care and attention.  In this moment of silence, hear our prayers, O God….

Again, we thank You for the gift of You.  Know we are grateful for a faith that offers hope, peace, love, and ultimately the joy of Your Healing and Comforting Touch.  And now hear us as we pray Your 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 sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

Offertory Invitation

There are a variety of ways to give to an organization – there is the gift of your expertise or trade skills; the gift of reading, writing or public speaking; the gift of teaching or coaching; or artistic or fine art talents.  And for some people, for a variety of reasons, their preference is to give the gift of maintaining a financial pledge to help fund different ministries and outreach.  Whatever you discern as God’s leading, know we appreciate your contributions to First Church, and may God continue to bless you and the efforts of this ministry.  

Offertory                                Prelude on “immaculate Mary”


Closing Hymn                        Joy to the World


Postlude                              The First Noel  and  Emmanuel Comes

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