Page 3 

GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 14, 2014
Third Sunday of Advent

PRELUDE

GREETING AND PREPARATION

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

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
People: Those who lived in a land of deep darkness — 
on them has light shined.

Leader: A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
People: And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him. 
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.  

 — From Isaiah 9:2; 11:1-3, NRSV

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


Page 4 

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.


Page 5 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King. 
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled." 
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies, 

With th'angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."  

Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!" 


Christ by highest heav'n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord, 
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.  
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th'incarnate Deity; 
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel. 
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!" 


Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail the Son of Righteousness! 
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in His wings.  
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die, 
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give us second birth. 
Hark, the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!”


Page 6 

CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader: No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  

— Proverbs 28:13

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: Father, we come to you this morning as people who need to be redeemed. We need to be made whole. We confess that we need You to heal us for we cannot heal ourselves. 

We confess our faithless hearts. We have looked for redemption everywhere but in your arms. We haven’t looked there because we doubt your love for us. Forgive us we pray.

Now, Father, accept our confession and receive us gladly. We ask this not upon our deserving it, or even the honesty of our confession, but for the sake of Jesus. You rejected Him, the innocent, in order to embrace us, the guilty. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION

WORDS OF PARDON

Leader: Through Jesus Christ forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

—From Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7, NRSV

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


Page 7 

THE WORD OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READING    

Luke 1:26-38 NRSV

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He 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. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The 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. 36And 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. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then 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.

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: When Heaven & Earth Embrace
Speaker: Paul Burkhart


REFLECTIONS 

To redeem the past…that alone do I call redemption! 

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zorathustra 

Jesus Christ's Incarnation is a parallel of creation. Once more, God acts as the Creator....God enters the field and creates within creation a new beginning, a new beginning in history and moreover in the history of Israel. In the continuity of human history this point becomes visible where God Himself hastens to humanity's aid and becomes one with them. God becomes human. In this way, the story begins.  

— Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline 

Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shut'st in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

— John Donne, "Annunciation"


Page 9

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.


Page 10

 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. 


Page 11

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.


Page 12

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.


Page 13  

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.

REFRAIN
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
nd give them victory over the grave.

REFRAIN

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

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.


Page 14 

COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: Father, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living again, he declared your love, gave us grace, and opened the way to glory. May we who share Christ's body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope         you have set before us, so that we and all your children shall live in perfect freedom, and the whole earth live to praise your name; through 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.


Page 15

SENDING INTO GOD’S WORLD

OFFERING

JOY TO THE WORLD  

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n, and heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the world! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders of His love. 
    


Page 16

BENEDICTION

Minister: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

— Romans 15:13, NRSV 

People: Amen.

DISMISSAL

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


Page 17 

COMING UP AT LIBERTI

December 14: Small Fry Toy Drive Gifts Due    
           Emmanuel Homeless Ministry Gift Drive     

December 20: Small Fry Christmas Party    
          Amahl and the Night Visitors (4:00 & 7:00 PM)  

December 21: Bethesda Project Christmas Lunch
           Emmanuel Homeless Ministry Gift Drive

December 24: Emmanuel Homeless Ministry Lunch 
           Christmas Eve Service (5:00 PM)

Ongoing:     Year-End Giving (libertichurch.org/give)
         Download our Advent Prayerbook!   

Please visit libertichurch.org/christmas and libertichurch.org/news for more information on these and other upcoming opportunities at Liberti Church! 
 

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 celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Our City — For the addiction support services offered in our neighborhoods.

Our World — Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal, that there might be peace, understanding and tolerance between the different religions of these countries, and respect and the freedom to express one’s faith.

Comment