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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
November 30, 2014
First Sunday of Advent

PRELUDE

GREETING AND PREPARATION

Leader: The Lord be with you. 
People: And also with you!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.
People: A wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,”

Leader: and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.
People: God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

 — From Genesis 1:1-5, NRSV

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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O COME O COME EMMANUEL 

O come, o come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

O come thou day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

REFRAIN
Rejoice, Rejoice 

Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be thyself our King of Peace

REFRAIN

O come, o come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

REFRAIN


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BEAUTIFUL

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say,
You're beautiful.

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It's all proclaiming who you are,
You're beautiful.

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home,
You're beautiful.

When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing,
You're beautiful. 
 


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CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader: “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

 — Psalm 46:10-11 NRSV

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: Almighty God who inhabits eternity but dwells with those who are of a humble and contrite spirit: before you and our Lord Jesus Christ we confess our sins. We have ignored the presence of your Spirit. We have failed to look for the return of our Savior and Judge. We have been blind to your coming in the suffering of the hungry, the exiled, the destitute, the sick, and the imprisoned. In your great goodness put away our offenses and cleanse us from our sin, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION

WORDS OF PARDON

Leader: In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.

 — Acts 3:18-20

SONG OF RESPONSE - GLORIA PATRI  

Glory be to the Father, Glory be to the Son
Glory be to the Spirit Three in One
As it was in the beginning it will be forever. Amen. 
Amen. Amen.
(REPEAT)

PASSING THE PEACE


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THE WORD OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READING    

Matthew 16:13-20, NRSV 

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Minister: This is the gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you O Christ!

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION 

SERMON
Sermon series: The One: Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew
Sermon title: Who is This?
Speaker: Jared Ayers


REFLECTIONS 

Jesus of Nazareth...stands out in the middle of history. Tens of millions call him ‘Lord’ and do their best to follow him. Countless others, including some who try to ignore him, find that he pops up all over the place — a line in a song, an image in a movie, a cross on a distant skyline. Most of the world has adopted a dating system based, supposedly, on his birth (it’s a few years off, but near enough). Jesus is unavoidable.

 

But Jesus is also deeply mysterious. This isn’t just because, like any figure of ancient history, we don’t know as much about him as we might like. (In fact, we know more about him than about most other people from the ancient world; but even some who wrote about him at the time admitted that they were only scratching the surface.) Jesus is mysterious because of what we do know — what our evidence encourages us to see as the core of who he was and what he did — is so unlike what we know about anybody else that we are forced to ask, as people evidently did at the time: who, then, is this? Who does he think he is, and who is he in fact? 

— N.T. Wright, from Simply Jesus


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NICENE CREED 

Minister: Let us say what we believe.

People: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. 

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.


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 THE LORD’S TABLE

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING  

The Lord be with you. 
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts now!  
We lift them to the Lord. 

Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
It is right and good, always and everywhere.
To give thanks, to the Lord. 

Minister: With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us — even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who came among us as the Word made flesh to show us your glory, full of grace and truth. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name, saying:

Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 

Minister: You are holy, O God of majesty, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Born in humility, he came to rule over all. Helpless as an infant, he showed the power of your love. Poor in things of the world, he brought the wealth of your grace. Rejected by many, he welcomed all who sought him. In his dying and rising, you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery  to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. 


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Minister: Remembering your gracious acts in Jesus Christ, we take from your creation this bread  and wine and joyfully celebrate his dying and rising as we await the day of his coming. With thanksgiving we offer our very selves to you to be a living and holy sacrifice, dedicated to your service. Together we proclaim the mystery of the faith. 

Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
        Your rising celebrate!
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new.
(REPEAT)

Minister: Lord, our God, send your Holy Spirit so that this bread and cup may be for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we and all your saints be united with Christ and remain faithful in hope and love. Gather your whole church, O Lord, into the glory of your kingdom.

 Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son, 
praise to the Spirit, 
Our God the Three in One.  

WORDS OF INSTITUTION

Minister: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.         
People: Therefore, let us keep the feast. 

HOLY COMMUNION        

Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God.     

Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion. 

Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.


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PRAYERS FOR REFLECTION

If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers: 

PRAYER FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR TRUTH: Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.

PRAYER OF BELIEF: Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen.

PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.


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O HOLY NIGHT

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need - to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! 


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COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: We praise and thank you, creator God, for you have not left us alone. Every year we celebrate you coming as Emmanuel. Every Eucharist celebrates his death, in the bread we break and the cup we share, until that day when we shall see you face to face in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Minister: Let us pray as our Lord Jesus has taught us:     
People: Our Father in heaven,
              hallowed be your name,
              your kingdom come,
              your will be done,
              on earth as it is in heaven.         
              Give us today our daily bread.
              Forgive us our sins
              as we forgive those who sin
              against us.
              Save us from the time of trial,
              and deliver us from evil.
              For the kingdom, the power,
              and the glory are yours, now
              and forever. Amen.


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SENDING INTO GOD’S WORLD

OFFERING      

ON JORDAN’S STORMY BANKS

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

All o’er those wide extended plains,
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.

CHORUS
I am bound (I am bound)
I am bound (I am bound)
I am bound for promised land,
I am bound (I am bound)
I am bound (I am bound)
I am bound for promised land.

No chilling winds nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness, sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.

CHORUS

When shall I reach that happy place,
And be forever blessed?
When shall I see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest?

CHORUS


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BENEDICTION

Minister: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

People: Amen.

DISMISSAL

Minister: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord! 
People: Thanks be to God!


PRAYER REQUESTS 

This week, please pray alongside us for....

Our Church — Pray that the Gospel would be spread to the Greater Philadelphia area as we begin the celebration of Advent.

Our City — For the many social service agencies that serve our city.

Our World — For those suffering from HIV and AIDS throughout the world, and those who lack adequate health care in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Equitorial Guinea.

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

ADVENT & CHRISTMAS PRAYERBOOK
During Advent, we reflect on God’s coming to earth in Jesus, and look forward to his second coming. At Liberti, one of the ways that we do this is through the use of a prayerbook that we’ve developed for the season. You can download your free copy, and learn more about Advent and Christmas at Liberti at libertichurch.org/christmas.

BAPTISM SUNDAY
Are you interested in having your child baptized on Sunday, December 7? If so, please check out what we believe about baptism at libertichurch.org/baptism and email our administrator at administrator@liberti.org to sign-up or to follow-up with a pastor to learn more!

SMALL FRY TOY DRIVE & CHRISTMAS PARTY

Small Fry, one of our mercy partners, is collecting Christmas gifts to give to the children that they serve. Please visit the Liberti Connect table during coffee hour to pick up one of their wish lists, and then bring your wrapped gifts to church on 12/14. Then, join us at the Marion Anderson Rec. Center (17th & Fitzwater) on Saturday, 12/21, at 11:00 AM for a Christmas party, where we will give out the gifts and cook with the kids. For more information, please email Alissa McLaughlin (alissa@rm-events.com).

EMMANUEL HOMELESS MINISTRY CLOTHING DRIVE
This Christmas season, we will be giving away gift bags to our homeless friends and neighbors. We will be collecting large and x-large underwear, white t-shirts, socks, and travel size toiletries from 11/30 - 12/21, which can be dropped off at one of the bins near the doors of the First Baptist Building.

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