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REFLECTIONS

"Maybe Christmas, " he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" 
-Dr. Suess, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Maker of the sun,
He is made under the sun.
In the Father he remains,
From his mother he goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise,
He is wisely speechless.
Filling the world,
He lies in a manger.
Ruler of the stars,
He nurses at his mother's bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant.

-Saint Augustine of Hippo, 354-430

“Because I longed for eternal life,
I went to bed with harlots and drank for nights on end...
I slept in bliss but awoke with the bitter taste of the mortal state.”

-Albert Camus, The Fall


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 27th, 2015
First Sunday of Christmas


OPENING SENTENCES
Leader: Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

 

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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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: Let us go find the Savior!
People: Let us go find the wise ones!
Leader: Let us go 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. Come, let us worship; come, let us adore him: 
People: Christ the Lord! 


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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

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

CHORUS


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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,
he 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, NRSV


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. 
-Galations 4: 4-5, NRSV


 


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THE WORD OF GOD


SCRIPTURE READING
Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘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.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
 “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.” ’ Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then 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.’ When 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. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
 

SILENT REFLECTION
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION & SERMON

Sermon Series: Responding to Christmas
Sermon Title: Where is He?
Speaker: Mike Harder


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APOSTLES CREED

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
God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living
and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic1 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: Holy and right it is, and our joyful duty to give thanks to you at all times and in all places, O Lord our Creator, almighty and everlasting God! You created heaven with all its hosts and the earth with all its plenty. You have given us life and being, and preserve us by your providence. But you have shown us the fullness of your love in sending into the world your Son, Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, made flesh for us and for our salvation. For the precious gift of this mighty Savior who has reconciled us to you we praise and bless you, O God. With your whole Church on earth and with all the company of heaven we worship and adore your glorious 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: Most righteous God, we remember in this Supper the perfect sacrifice offered once on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ for the sin of the whole world. In the joy of his ressurection and in expectation of his coming again, we offer ourselves to you as holy and living sacrifices.  


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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: Send your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray, that the bread which we break and the cup which we bless may be to us the communion of the body and blood of Christ. Grant that, being joined together in him, we may attain to the unity of the faith and grow up in all things into Christ our Lord. And as this grain has been gathered from many fields into one loaf, and these grapes from many hills into one cup, grant, O Lord, that your whole Church may soon be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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. 


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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.

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











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