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REFLECTIONS

[The] webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. We call it “peace,” but it means far more than just peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies. (As a matter of fact, the area over which two armies declare a cease-fire may be acres of smoldering ruin.) In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight- a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, all under the arch of God’s love. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be.
                                                      -Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., from Engaging God's World

Christmas, then, is not a dream, a moment of escapism. Christmas is the reality, which shows up the rest of “reality.” And for Christmas, here, read Christianity. Either Jesus is the Lord of the world, and all reality makes sense in his light, or he is dangerously irrelevant to the problems and possibilities of today’s world. There is no middle ground. Either Jesus was, and is, the Word of God, or he, and the stories Christians tell about him, are lies.
                                          -N.T. Wright, from All God's Worth


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent


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

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.

CHORUS
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?

CHORUS

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

CHORUS

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

CHORUS


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GREETING AND PREPARATION
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you. 

CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
People: The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Leader: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 
People: Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the LORD!
                                                   -Psalm 27:1, 13-14 NRSV
PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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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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SONG OF CONFESSION

 

GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME

God, be merciful to me, on Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plentous in compassion Thou, blot out my transgressions now
Wash me, make me pure within, cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin

My transgressions I confess, grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace and provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just, speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin; Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art, teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow, wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust, by Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice, and in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face, blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew, make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee, let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart, steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me and return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove, and my tongue shall sing Thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall praise accord.


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IN COVENANT MEMBERSHIP

STORIES OF GOD’S WORK & VOWS

CANDIDATES

Minister: Do you renounce sin and the power of evil in your life and in the world?
Candidate: I renounce them.

Minister: Who is your Lord and Savior? Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
Candidate: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

Minister: Will you be a faithful covenant member of Liberti Church, and through a life of worship, community, and mercy seek to advance God’s purposes here and throughout the world?
Candidate: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Minister: Do you promise to accept the spiritual guidance of the church and its leaders, to walk in a spirit of Christian love with this congregation, and to seek those things that make for unity, purity, and peace? 
Candidate: I do.

LIBERTI CHURCH

Minister: Do you promise to love, encourage, and support these brothers and sisters by teaching them the gospel, by being an example of Christian faith and character, and by giving the strong support of God’s family in fellowship, prayer, and service?
People: We do.


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CONFESSION OF FAITH — THE APOSTLES’ CREED

Minister: Let us affirm our faith together in the words of the Apostles’ creed: Do you believe in God the Father?
People: We believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

Minister: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People: We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead. 

Minister: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People: 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.
(*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places)

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

Minister: Almighty God, by the love of Jesus Christ you draw people to faith, and welcome them into the church family. May we show your joy by embracing new brothers and sisters, who with us believe and with us will work to serve you. Keep us close together in your Spirit, breaking bread in faith and l love, one with Jesus Christ our Lord and Master. Amen.

Minister: The Lord be with you. 

People: And also with you.

Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People:  It is right to give our thanks and praise.

CLOSING PRAYER  


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THE WORD OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READING
Luke 2.1-14 NRSV

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

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: Peace on Earth
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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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. 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: 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.

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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HOW DEEP THE FATHER'S LOVE FOR US

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away.
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.

 


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COMMUNION PRAYER

People: God of grace, you renew us at your table with the bread of life. May this food strengthen us in love and help us to serve you in each other. We ask this in the
name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Minister: Let us pray as our Lord 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



THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres.

This is my Father's world,
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world
The birds their carols raise.
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise.

This is my Father's world
He shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass, I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget:
That though the wrought seem oft' so strong
God is the ruler yet

This is my Father's world,
The battle is not done
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And the earth and heaven be one.

 



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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 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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