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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 28, 2014
First Sunday of Christmas

PRELUDE

GREETING AND PREPARATION

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

CALL TO WORSHIP

 

Leader: Let us go, in heart and mind, to see what has come to pass. Let us go with the shepherds:
People: Let us go to find the Savior! Let us go with the wise ones:

Leader: Let us go to find God’s promise, born for us!
People: Let us go with the poor and humble:

Leader: Let us go to find our King, born in a lowly manger. Let us go with all the world, with all the peoples of the nations. 
People: Come, let us worship; come, let us adore him: Christ the Lord!

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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ANGELS FROM THE REALMS OF GLORY

Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth, 
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King!

Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of Nations;
Ye have seen His natal star:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King!


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ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH 

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.


REFRAIN
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

REFRAIN

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

REFRAIN

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

REFRAIN


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WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.


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CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader: We know that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. Let us in freedom confess the wrong we have done.  

—Based on Romans 8:39

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: God of love, all year long we pursue power and money, yet you come in weakness. All season long we covet great material gifts, when you alone offer what is lasting. Through the work of this Lord Jesus, who comes among us full of grace and truth, forgive us, heal us, correct us.

Then open our lips, that we may sing your praise with the angels, and remake our lives, that we may witness to your transforming love. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION

WORDS OF PARDON

Leader: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.  

—Galatians 4:4-5, 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


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THE WORD OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READING    

Matthew 2:1-12 NRSV  

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

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: The Wise Men
Speaker: Mike Harder


REFLECTIONS 
 

(We) arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (as you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for 
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease there, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death. 

— T.S. Eliot, from “The Journey of the Magi”


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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IN CHRIST ALONE

In Christ alone my hope is found.
He is my Light, my Strength, my Song.
This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

There in the ground His body lay,
light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth, in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
sin's curse has lost its grip on me.
For I am His, and He is mine,
Bought in the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death;
this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from His hand.
‘Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ, I'll stand. 


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COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: God our Father, you have invited us to share in the supper which your Son gave to his Church to proclaim his death until he comes: may he nourish us by his presence, and unite us in his love; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. 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  

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN   

CHORUS
Go tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born

While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks that night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light

CHORUS

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth

CHORUS

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And brought us God's salvation
That blessed Christmas morn

CHORUS


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BENEDICTION

Minister: May God the Father, who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to come among us in great humility, open your eyes to look for his coming again.

People: Amen.

DISMISSAL

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


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COMING UP AT LIBERTI 
 

January 4:      Home groups resume this week!

January 18:     In-Covenant Class after church — email administrator@liberti.org to sign up. 

Ongoing:     Year-End Giving (libertichurch.org/give)

Please visit 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 for God to lead us as we dream and plan for the new ministries and people that will be reached through Liberti Church in 2015.

Our City — Pray for those in need of physical and mental healing.

Our World — Pray for Christians and others in Nigeria, who are facing persecution from terrorists. Pray also for those in Ghana who are suffering from malaria, meningitis, and Ebola. 

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