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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
January 4, 2015
Second Sunday of Christmas

PRELUDE

GREETING AND PREPARATION

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

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
People: The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.

Leader: We praise you, Lord, who crowns us with love and compassion, who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
People: From everlasting to everlasting your love is with those who fear you, O Lord, and your righteousness to their children’s children, with those who keep your covenant and remember to obey your commandments. 

— From Psalm 102-103 

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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WE THREE KINGS

We three kings of Orient are 
Bearing gifts we traverse afar 
Field and fountain, moor and mountain 
Following yonder star
Born a king on Bethlehem plain. 
Gold I bring to crown him again. 
King forever ceasing never. 
Over us all to reign.

CHORUS

Star of wonder star of night 
Star with royal beauty bright 
Westward leading still proceeding 
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Frankincense to offer have I. 
Incense owns a deity night. 
Prayer and praising, all men raising. 
Worship Him, God on high.
Myrrh is mine; it's bitter perfume. 
Breathes a life of gathering gloom. 
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, 
Sealed in a stone cold tomb.

CHORUS

Glorious now behold him arise, 
King and God, and sacrifice; 
Alleluia, Alleluia; 
Earth to Heaven replies.

CHORUS 


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HOW GREAT THOU ART

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
consider all the Worlds Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed

CHORUS
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

CHORUS

When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, My God, how great You are!

CHORUS x2 


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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.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

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 with the precious blood of Christ.

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


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CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 

—Isaiah 30:15, 18, NIV

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: Our Father in heaven, we come to you now, as our King. And we can only come to you because you welcome the needy and the afflicted. 

Father, our central need is for your reign. Yet, we run from it. Many times this past week, we have wrestled control of our lives away from you. In those times, we have turned our hearts away from your heart and our feet away from your commandments.

So, receive us now, not because we’re good or because we vow to do better, because you rejected your Son in our place. We pray in His name. 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 2:13-23, NRSV 

13Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

16When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

19When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

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

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION  

SERMON 

Sermon series: The One: The Story of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew
Sermon title: The Monster & the Manger
Speaker: Jared Ayers


REFLECTIONS 

The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole. If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others. Thus the way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the cross. 

 — Edith Stein

The New Testament...seeks to establish God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument, a revelation of his solidarity with human struggle rather than a philosophical proof of his benevolence. In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains. That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.  The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death. In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.  

— Ross Douthat, from “The Loss of the Innocents,” in the Dec. 15 2012 New York Times


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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SILENT NIGHT

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, All is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so Tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the savior is born.

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light 
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord at thy birth,
Jesus Lord at thy birth.


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COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: Most gracious God,
             we praise you for what you have given
             and for what you have promised us here.
             You have made us one
             with all your people
             in heaven and on earth.
             You have fed us
             with the bread of life,
             and renewed us for your service.
             Now we give ourselves to you;
             and we ask that our daily living
             may be part of your kingdom,
             and that our love may be your love
             reaching out into the life of the world;
             through 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   

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!”


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BENEDICTION

Minister: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever.

 — I Peter 5:10-11

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 people who are in need of community to find one in Liberti. Pray for the new season of home groups beginning this week.

Our City — Pray for the many pastors who work throughout the city to serve needs both physical and spiritual.

Our World — Pray that God’s hand would be on Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories. Pray for the leaders of these nations to seek peace and reconciliation for their people.

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