12/23/18 4th Sunday of Advent


Cradle and cross are inextricably connected on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Between a lovely tribute to the little town of Bethlehem and the blessed virgin Mary’s magnificent song of praise, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us in no uncertain terms that Christ’s advent is for “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It is the kind of tension in which the church always lives as when in the holy communion—with high delight—”we proclaim the Lord’s death.”

PRELUDE: Morning Song- 18th century American tune, setting by Lani Smith

As a matter of hospitality, we invite everyone to fill out information in the red fellowship pad found on each pew at the center aisle and pass it down so everyone may be greeted by name during the passing of the peace. Written announcements can be found at the back of the bulletin.

The primary symbolism of the Advent candles has to do with light growing in darkness—leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

We light this candle as a sign of the coming light of Christ.
As the Lord has promised, in days to come…

The nations shall beat their swords into plowshares,              Isa. 2:4
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,                                            Isa. 11:6
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling will lie down together,
and a little child shall lead them.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,                         Isa. 35:1
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

The Lord will give you a sign.                                                        Isa. 7:14
Look, the young woman is with child.
She shall bear a son,
and name him Emmanuel: “God is with us.”

Let us walk in the light of the Lord. Amen.

CHORAL INTROIT: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel- text: John Mason Neale; music: Charles Gounod


The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Alleluia. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord proclaimed to the Archangel Gabriel,
“Here I am, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.” Alleluia.
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that binds us, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

*GATHERING HYMN # 99 My Soul Gives Glory to My God


Blessed be the holy Trinity, + one God,
the Lord of Israel who comes to set us free,
the mighty Savior who comes to show mercy,
the Dawn from on high who guides us into peace.
Let us come before God in confession.

Silence is kept for reflection.

To you, O God,
we lift up our souls.
You know us through and through;
we confess our sins to you.
Remember not our sins;
remember us with your steadfast love.
Show us your ways;
teach us your paths;
and lead us in justice and truth,
for the sake of your goodness
in Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Children of God, come with joy
and draw water from the well of salvation.
Remember the gift of baptism:
your sin is washed away in the name of + Jesus;
you belong to Christ;
you are anointed to serve.
Stand up and raise your heads!
The reign of God is near.


The Peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you.

OFFERING OF MUSIC: Boy Child of Mary- text: Helen Taylor; music: melody from Malawi, setting by Austin C. Lovelace

ALL SING O Come. Little Children

SUNG PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION # 453 Open Your Ears, O Faithful People (verse 1)

FIRST READING: Micah 5:2-5a
The prophet Micah, having pronounced judgment upon Judah, speaks of a future shepherd-king who, like David, will come from the small town of Bethlehem. (Ephrathah refers to the area around Bethlehem.) This king will restore Israel and bring peace. New Testament writers understood this passage to be referring to Jesus.

2But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
5aand he shall be the one of peace.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

HYMN # 121 O Little Town of Bethlehem

SECOND READING: Hebrews 10:5-10

The author of Hebrews uses the image of religious sacrifice to convey the significance of Christ’s coming. Through obedient acceptance of God’s will, Christ allows his own body to become the greatest sacrifice of all, one through which we are made a holy people.

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL: Luke 1:39-55

We are presented with Elizabeth, John’s mother, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, two women filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. In Elizabeth’s inspired greeting and Mary’s song of praise we hear of a saving God who remembers, scatters, lifts up, and fulfills all things.

39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
46And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

A BRIEF TEACHING      “Hail Mary, Full of Grace…”     Pr. Christian Boyd


As we await the coming of Christ, we pray in hope for the church, the world, and all of creation.

A brief silence.

Faithful Lord, you keep your promises. Move your church to sing like Mary and rejoice like Elizabeth. Teach us to sing of your faithfulness all our days. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

Ancient of Days, with joy you danced over the waters and birthed creation. Give us joy in caring for the soil beneath us, the water around us, and the sky above us. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

Prince of peace, your sacrifice gives abundant life to all. Raise up leaders in every nation whose goals are health and wellbeing for all people and creation. Grant them wisdom and compassion to serve as you would have them serve. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

Good Shepherd, you feed your flock. Fill the hungry with good things. Lift up the lowly. Accompany the refugee. Comfort the lonely. Heal the sick (especially). Send us in haste to surround them with your love. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

Love Incarnate, you are with us at the manger, on the cross, and on the resurrection road. Walk with all who live with depression, grief, or heartache in this season. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.

Here other intercessions may be offered.

Ever-living God, you are Alpha and Omega. We thank you for all who sing now in the heavenly choir, especially those dear to us. Join our voices with theirs in praise of the Christ child. Hear us, O God. This week we commemorate: Thorlac Thorhalli; John of Kenty; Adam and Eve; The Un-Named Women of the Bible; Fulk of Toulouse; Jacopone da Todi; Stephen; John the Evangelist; Holy Innocents; Francis de Sales; King David;
and Thomas Becket. We especially remember Mary, Joseph, and all who gathered around the manger, adoring the Christ child.
Your mercy is great.

Confident that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, we bring to you these prayers and those unspoken, in the name of Christ, our Savior and Lord, who taught us to pray:
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.


The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Eternal God,
as you led your people in ages past,
you direct our journey into the future.
We give you thanks that
you came to us in Jesus Christ,
and we eagerly await his coming again
that his rule may be complete
and your righteousness reign over all the world.
Then we will feast at his royal banquet,
and sing his praises with the choirs of heaven.
By your Spirit,
open our eyes to the generosity of your hand,
and nurture our souls in all spiritual gifts.
Fill us with gratitude overflowing
that we may share life and love in praise to you,
God of all the ages,
in the gracious name of Jesus Christ, your Son,
by the power of your Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.

Let us magnify the Lord, rejoicing in the one
who scatters the proud, lifts up the lowly,
and fills the hungry with good things.

During this time of offering you are encouraged to take a moment to be in prayer with God and reflect on what is means to be a student or disciple of Jesus Christ. The Gospel understanding of discipleship is a way of being in the world that affects every relationship. Disciples shape one another according to the action of the Spirit in their lives. The energy of the disciples flows from faith in what is unseen yet believed. At its very core, discipleship is a call to a love so radical that it never gives up on God, one’s neighbor, or one’s self. How is God calling you to use your gifts, talents, time and resources to love radically, especially as a part of this worshipping community?

Offerings and tithes will be collected by the ushers in the Narthex (the great entrance hall) following worship. If you would like to make an offering using your smart phone or tablet, go to www.SouthminsterChurch.org and click on the Donate link.

OFFERTORY: O Little Town- hymn tune ST. LOUIS by Lewis Henry Redner (1868); setting by P. F. Tillen (2018)
*HYMN OF PRAISE Glory Be to Our Creator


O Lord our God, we give you thanks
for the hope and longing you instill in us
through the promise of our baptism—
a voice crying out in the wilderness,
a messenger to prepare the way,
the day of redemption drawing near.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
keep us awake and make us ready
for the coming of your glorious realm
of righteousness, justice, and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

*SENDING HYMN # 110 Love Has Come


POSTLUDE: Bring a Torch- French melody, setting by P. F. Tillen (2018)

NOTES: Order of service and content is in accord with the Presbyterian Church’s Directory for Worship. Prayers are from the Sundays and Seasons (Year C), Glory to God Hymnal on-line, and the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (2018). Commemoration of Saints is from the 2018 Book of Common Worship, beginning on page 1145.



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