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REFLECTIONS

This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason there’d have been no room for the child.

-Madeleine L’Engle, “After Annunciation,” from
A Cry Like a Bell: Poems


This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that He is the son of the Virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours.
-Martin Luther, from a Christmas sermon


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent
Center City Campus

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!

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!

All creation join in praising
God the Father, Spirit, Son
Evermore your voices raising
To the Eternal Three in one
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King


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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 earth. 

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 1:1-15, NRSV


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LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS

Love came down at Christmas
Love incarnate, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign

CHORUS
Emmanuel
Our God with us
Emmanuel
Our hope, our trust


Worship we the Godhead
Love Incarnate, Love Divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign

CHORUS

 


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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.

CHORUS
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,
and give them victory over the grave.

CHORUS

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. 

CHORUS

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

CHORUS

 


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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


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, NRSV


SONG OF RESPONSE-GLORIA PATRI

Glory be 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. 

PASSING THE PEACE
ANNOUNCEMENTS


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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 word of the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God! 

SILENT REFLECTION
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION & SERMON

Sermon Series: Responding to Christmas
Sermon Title: "How Can This Be?"
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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Minister: Let us say what we believe.
People: 
We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. 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. Therefor we join our voices with all 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 us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. 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. 


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Minister: 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. 


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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LORD I NEED YOU

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

CHORUS
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

CHORUS

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

CHORUS

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You


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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. 
 


SENDING INTO GOD'S WORLD

OFFERING

 

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—
ought 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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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: Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
People: Thanks be to God!








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