December 20, 2020—4th Sunday of Advent
Welcome and Announcements
Lighting of the Advent Candle: the Candle of Hope
In a world where churches lie empty, doors are shut, and people seem to have no room for religion anymore, God, we call upon you to come.
In a world where so many claim not to believe anymore, we call upon you, El Shaddai, God Almighty, to come.
In this season of Advent, we wait for Your Presence to be felt in our lives again. We await the birth of Jesus, the Savior of All, who comes into our lives in a new way.
Come, Messiah, Come, and Save Us.
Light the fourth (purple) candle
Dear God, we pray that our faith may be renewed once again, and may we relive the wonder of your love in our lives. In the name of Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.
* Call to Worship
We will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, we will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
We declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You promised Mary that she would bear a child—one who would inaugurate your commonwealth, your realm that will have no end.
You have established your realm for all generations.
* Hymn 16 The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness
Our Advent hope is in a coming one who establishes peace and justice in our world. Yet we know that we have betrayed that hope by contributing to enmity and injustice. We also know that if we confess our sin we can be restored to a right and just standing before God and others. Let us therefore confess our sin, trusting God’s Advent promise of grace and peace.
O God, we have been created in your image; indeed, you have crowned us with glory and honor. But we have lived self-centered lives, thereby failing to reflect your glory. We have not treated others with dignity and respect. We have violated your good creation. We confess our sin, O God. Renew us and restore us to our rightful place as bearers of your image. Empower us as agents of your love and justice in all that we are and all that we do. Amen.
God’s mercy abounds. God’s Advent grace goes before us, after us, through us—sometimes even unbeknownst to us, restoring us and empowering us for participation in God’s own work in the world. Friends, hear the good news of the gospel: we are forgiven and restored, set on right paths of justice and peace. Thanks be to God!
Prayer for Illumination
O God, send your Advent Spirit to us to open our hearts, so that we may discern your Word in and through the words that we are about to hear Amen.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’
The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
* Affirmation of Faith from a Declaration of Faith
Jesus, the long-expected Savior, came into the world as a child, descended from David, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary, a virgin. He lived as a Jew among Jews. He announced to his people the coming of God’s kingdom of justice and peace on earth. We affirm that Jesus was born of woman as is every child, yet born of God’s power as was no other child. In the person and work of Jesus, God and a human life are united but not confused, distinguished by not separated. The coming of Jesus was itself the coming of God’s promised rule. Through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, he brings about the relationship between God and humanity that God always intended. Alleluia. Amen.
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Prayers of Intercession 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. Amen.
Invitation to the Offering and Dedication
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we ponder the gift of incarnation—of God becoming flesh so that we might be restored and given new life in Christ. The Christ child is the resplendent gift of the season—a gift of God’s own self that frees us to respond with gifts in return.
Incarnate God, we offer our gifts to you that they may be used to further the promise of hope, peace, love and justice in our community and in our world. Empower us, O God, to follow these gifts into the world around us so that they, and we, might become bearers of peace, love and justice on the earth. Amen.
* Hymn 49 Once in Royal David’s City
* Charge and Benediction