Christ is on the way! We prepare our homes and hearts, clearing away distractions to make room for the promises kept in Jesus Christ. We make room for hope, for joy, for peace, and for love. As we gather this morning, let us ready a manger in our hearts, prepared to receive the miraculous, moved to answer the call and to follow a star in the sky.
PRELUDE: Here Comes the Sun- George Harrison; setting by Peter Bence
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
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.
LIGHTING THE ADVENT CANDLES
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.
Let us walk in the light of the Lord. Amen.
CHORAL INTROIT: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel text: J. M. Neale; music by Charles Gounod
CALL TO WORSHIP AND PRAYER OF THE DAY
Come, you who are weary, and you who are full of joy.
Together, we come to the table.
Come, you who feel lost, and come, you who feel hopeful.
Together, we come to the font.
Come, you who need reminding, and those with faith to spare.
Together, we come to the manger. As one body, we worship God
Bring us together in sure and certain hope, O God of promises kept, and keep our hearts and minds open to Your wonders at work. Amen.
GATHERING HYMN # 105 People, Look East
PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION
God who comforts the sorrowful and sets the captives free has mercy to spare. Together, we remember our need for that mercy, and our gratitude for God’s promise of love everlasting.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God of peace, we pray for your mercy. We have grown casual about living in an ever-warring world. We have resisted your call to stand with the oppressed. We have accepted our own comfort over the challenge of seeking justice. We have distanced ourselves from the needs of our brothers and sisters. Forgive us. Guide us back to your path of peace, justice, and mercy. Teach us to live our faith. Be with us as we seek your Word and will, this day and every day. Amen.
Hear and believe the greatest news: In Christ, you are seen, you are known, you are forgiven, and you are beloved.
Thanks be to God!
The Peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you.
OFFERING OF MUSIC: Blackbird- John Lennon & Paul McCartney
ALL SING: O Come, Little Children
SUNG PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION # 453 Open Your Ears, O Faithful People (verse 1)
FIRST READING: Malachi 3:1-4
The Lord announces a covenant with Israel. A messenger like Malachi (his name means “my messenger”) shall prepare the way for the coming of the Lord by purifying and refining God’s people, as silver and gold are refined.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
CANTICLE OF THE TURNING, HYMN #100
SECOND READING: Philippians 1:3-11
The apostle Paul was the pastor of many new churches. He writes in this letter about his joy to be in partnership with the Christians of Philippi. Listen to how tender-hearted Paul, sometimes a stern preacher, is with his friends as he encourages them to grow in love and knowledge.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL: Luke 3:1-6
John the Baptist is a herald of the saving Lord, whose way is prepared by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” As we hear the careful record of human leaders, we sense the spectrum of political and religious authority that will be challenged by this coming Lord.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
A BRIEF TEACHING
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
As we await the coming of Christ, we pray in hope for the church, the world, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
Prepare your church to share the good news, life-giving God. Put your word within us and dwell among us. Send us out to proclaim the mercy and salvation that abides in you. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Protect the creation, life-giving God. Sustain the mountains and hills. Restore the rivers. Give us wisdom and compassion to care for wilderness areas and urban ecosystems. Move us to care for your creation in all its forms and richness. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Purify the hearts of all people, life-giving God. Remove the hate that lives within us and among us. Mold us into peacemakers. Raise up leaders rooted in your love and fed by your word. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Comfort all who hurt, life-giving God. Wrap them in your tender care. Remember the forgotten and send us out to share your love with them. Be with the wandering, the worried, and the woeful
(especially). Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Bless this congregation, life-giving God. Give strength and joy to worship leaders, musicians, and our altar guild as they prepare the way for the celebration of the Christ child’s coming among us. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
We remember the generations who have shown us your faithfulness, life-giving God. Shine your light on those who mourn and prepare us for that day when we will see you face-to-face. We commemorate this week: Martyrs of Samosata; Karl Barth; Thomas Merton; Daniel the Stylite; Conrad of Offida; Judocus; Lucy, Martyr of Syracuse (Santa Lucia); John of the Cross; Teresa of Avila; and Florentius. Hear us, O God.
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. Amen.
INVITATION TO DISCIPLESHIP & STEWARDSHIP(Luke 1:46–47, 51–53)
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.
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: Happy Christmas (War Is Over)- John Lennon and Yoko Ono; setting by Philip Keveren
HYMN OF PRAISE Glory Be to Our Creator
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
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 # 109 Blest Be the God of Israel
POSTLUDE: People, Look East- French folk melody BESANÇON, setting by P.F.Tillen
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 pg 1145.
CALLED CONGREGATIONAL MEETING
There will be a Called Congregational meeting TODAY to review the 2019 budget, elect Nominating Committee members, and review changes in Pastor Christian’s Call.
Stop off in Nelson hall for the coffee hour first. We will begin in the basement Room 102 around 10:45. We are starting to collect for Bees, so remember your offering! The K-2nd and 3rd-5th classes will rotate separately after our opening and we will conclude around 11:45.
Dec. 9th – Pageant practice during the Church School hour
Dec. 16th – Pageant during service, no Church School for K-5th
Church School resumes on Jan 6th!
Help provide animals for people in need around the world as a way of giving some much needed resources. Currently, the Church School is raising money for Heifer Project to buy bees. How many can we get? Please help support the children in their mission by contributing to their effort. Please make out your check to Southminster and put Heifer Project in the memo line. God bless!
TOWEL BUNDLE TIME!
The Mission Team needs your help as we gather the items for our gifts to our neighbors at the Hope Center. We have had large donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Our big need this year is for deodorants, bar soap and combs. We appreciate your help during the busy holiday season. Look for the collection box near Nelson Hall.
Longest Night Service
For some, it is hard to embrace the joy of the holiday season. Loss, loneliness, strained relationships, or simple stress can make this a difficult time of the year. On December 20, please join at 7 pm at Faith Springs Presbyterian Church in Pewaukee for a service of prayer and reflection, a time when we can lift these sorrows (whether our own or not) to God. Service will be led by Rev. Katie Ebel.
VISIONS articles for January are due to Shelby by Thursday December 13th.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
We need ushers for the Christmas Eve service at 4:00pm. Please contact the office if you are able to help.
From the Presbyterian Calendar of Commemorations, week of December 9
9 Martyrs of Samosata (d.c.311) – Seven men who refused to join in co-Emperor Maximian’s pagan rites at Samosata (in present day Turkey): local magistrates Hipparchus and Philotheus and five others, they were crucified for not celebrating Maximian’s victory over the Persians.
10 Karl Barth (1886–1968) – Swiss pastor and Reformed theologian, often regarded as the greatest Protestanttheologian of the twentieth century; Barth embarked on a new theological path sometimes called dialectical theology, stressing the paradoxical nature of divine truth. His most important work is his 13-volume text Church Dogmatics, one of the largest works of systematic theology ever written.
His influence expanded well beyond the academic realm to mainstream culture, leading him to be featured on the cover of Time magazine on April 20, 1962.
Thomas Merton (1915–1968) – American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. Author of more than 70 books, Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki, the Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh; and authored books on Zen Buddhism and Taoism.
11 Daniel the Stylite (409–493) – Priest and Stylite. Stylites were extremely ascetic monks who lived on top of a pillar. Stylites were common in the early Byzantine Church. Daniel lived on his pillar for 33 years.
12 Conrad of Offida (c. 1241–1306) – Italian friar, preacher, and founder in 1294 of the Celestine order, an order modelled on the pure practice of the rule of St. Francis.
13 Judocus (d. c. 668) – Also called Saint Judoc, Saint Joyce, or Saint Josse, he was the son of Juthael, King of Brittany. He renounced his wealth and position to become a priest and lived alone for the rest of his lifetimein the coastal forest near the mouth of the River Cache in modern-day France.
Lucy, Martyr of Syracuse (304) - also known as Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia, Christian martyr. Most accounts of the lives of the early martyrs agree that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian, and she was executed in Syracuse, Sicily, in the year 304 during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches.
14 John of the Cross (1542–1591) - Spanish mystic, Carmelite friar, writer, priest, major figure of the Counter-Reformation, he is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) – Spanish mystic Carmelite nun, author, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Active during the Counter-Reformation, she was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time; the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices.
15 Florentius of Peterborough (7th century) – Roman saint and martyr. Little is known about Florentius’ life; he was probably murdered by Vandals.