Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 21, 2008
Worship 10:00 am, Sunday School 11:10 am

Fourth Sunday of Advent 

and I have been with you wherever you went…
(2 Samuel  7:9a)

  Morning Praise (9:45 am)            "How He Loves"
                                                      "It is Well"
                                              "Everything Glorious"
  Prelude                                  “Joy to the World”

  Lighting the Advent Candles                                                  (back of bulletin)

*Hymn                          "My soul proclaims with wonder"                           181

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                                   Luke 1:47-55

  Invitation to Bring Forward Pledges and Offerings

  Carol medley                         "What child is this"                                      215
                                           "Infant holy, infant lowly"                                 206


  Scripture                                   Luke 1:26-38

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
                                 (please be brief, and aware of God’s listening presence)

  Hymn                      (vs. 3 & 4) "O little town of Bethlehem"                        191

  Pastoral Prayer

  Scripture                              Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

  A Time for Children                  “Gyroscope

  Hymn                             (vs. 1 & 2) "O little town of Bethlehem"                        191

  Scripture                                 2 Samuel 7:1-11

  Message                    “In the middle of the muddle

*Hymn                                     "Oh, how joyfully"                                     209


*Postlude                           “Noel on a Sicilian Carol”                         Guilmont

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Lighting the Advent Candles

One:  From the gospel of Luke hear these words:
               “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent
                     by God to a town in Galilee…”

All:   Yes, we know this old, old story.

One:  In this twelfth month of 2008, on this twenty-first day,
               in this place, among us with names like Joe and Mary,
                     Dave and Elizabeth,
         God’s story continues, ever new.

All:   To those who feel too young or too old,
               who are worried and wondering,
                     filled with questions and seeking answers,
          God still comes.

One:  As the lights shine forth from these Advent candles,
               may we realize again
          how the miraculous is often clothed in the mundane,
               and the extraordinary is present in the ordinary.

All:    Look around. Look within. Offer a space for birth.
          God is born in us again, as we name him Jesus
               with our prayer and praise and proclamation.

by Prue Yelinek, pastor
Waynesboro, PA Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series"

Opening Prayer

Holy God,
     the humble Love that fills all things,
          we adore you!
Yes, you alone, God, we adore.
     By you the lost come home,
     with you the strong are weak,
     in you the poor find riches,
     through you the sad rejoice,
     on you the weak grow strong,
     to you the hungry turn,
     and for you we live and die.
You alone, God, we adore!
Through Christ Jesus our Lord.

by Bruce Prewer, Uniting Church in Australia
from Resources: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary.

Luke 1:47-55

In 1986, Carl P. Daw jr. wrote the words to the hymn we just sang for an evening prayer service at a small Episcopal parish which ministers to the University of Connecticut. The words are a paraphrase of the “Song of Mary” from Luke 1:46-55, which I will read in a moment. Mary's Song, sometimes called the “Magnificat,” echoes an earlier song sung by Hannah in the Old Testament, whose “heart exulted in the Lord” over the miraculous birth of her son, Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-11). Originally written for the tune we associate with the hymn, “All glory, laud, and honor” (237), the music we just sang was written especially for our hymnal by Mennonite composer, J. Harold Moyer.

            Now let’s listen to the scripture upon which this hymn was based. In Luke’s gospel, the pregnant Mary visits her relative, Elizabeth, who is also expecting a child who will grow up to be John the Baptist. The scene of the meeting of these women is reminiscent of an opera, where persons just break out into song. Let me read, not sing, what was on Mary’s heart at that moment, according to Luke.

Read Luke 1:47-55

Invitation to bring forward our Pledges and Offerings

The Christmas story is a trip, literally. It’s full of “on the road” imagery. Take the song of Mary we just heard. This young woman had to travel to her aunt’s home to sing it. She did so at the request of an angel, who himself journeyed from God with a message we will listen to yet one more time in a few minutes. Did pregnant Mary and her betrothed get to stay home for the impending birth? Of course not! Most everyone knows about the “decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled…(Luke 2:1), and how Joseph led his wife-to-be back to his ancestral home for some silly government thing that was required at the wrong time for their budding family. Not exactly the makings of a travelogue.

            The trips surrounding this story continue. Angels visit from heaven. Shepherds and sheep journey from their field to that barn in Bethlehem. And who could forget those wise men who travel from afar to bring their gifts to Mary and Joseph’s newborn baby. Later, these Magi would go home by a different route, and this little family would flee to Egypt for a while, before making their way back to Nazareth.

            And we listen to this story sitting down… Well, not this morning. On this Sunday before Christmas, I invite you to get into the spirit of the season by getting up out of your seat at some point during the singing of the next two carols and journey to the front of the sanctuary to place your offering for this day, and/or your pledge of what you plan to give to this church in 2009, in the plates. You don’t have to walk the most direct route here or back. Feel free to meander. Our journey with Christ leads us through many a twist and turn, just like Joseph and Mary, shepherds and sheep, wise men and angels. Things often do not happen at the most opportune times. As we go, we trust that God will provide the way, even if we can’t see very far down the road.

            By the way, even if you don’t bear a financial gift or pledge – maybe someone else in your family has it – I still invite you to step out from your pew, if you are able. Remember, Christmas is a trip, literally. Faith is a journey. Are you ready and willing to travel with the One who is the reason behind the season?


All we can do, Lord, is put one foot in front of the other and journey step by step, moment by moment, day by day. These pledges and offerings reflect our attempt to do just that – to follow where you lead, even if the path heads to the most out-of-the-way places. Forgive us our hesitancy to follow, our desire – in fact - to turn away when the going gets rough, to keep from living up to our promises, or even the making of them … all out of fear. We still need to hear you say, “don’t be afraid,” no matter how long we have been following you. Keep nudging us forward into faithfulness, drawing us toward your kingdom, beside and within to strengthen us for the Advent-ure that lies ahead. Bless these gifts and pledges in the name of the One whose birth we celebrate this week. Amen.

Luke 1:26-38

           Okay, so we have gotten ahead of ourselves. In our mind’s eye we have already traveled to Bethlehem and beyond. However, it’s not Christmas yet. Let’s not get the cart before the horse or, in this case, the donkey. We’ve heard Mary’s song, but we need to back up a bit and listen to what preceded it, according to gospel storyteller Luke. Let she who has ears, as the Bible says, hear!

1 - In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,

2 - “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

1 - But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her,

2 - “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel,

1 - “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her,

2 - “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. And 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said,

1 - “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

2 - Then the angel departed from her.

The New Revised Standard Version,
copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education
of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pastoral Prayer

(usually spoken from the heart at the moment, tho' it could be like the prayer below)

            Loving God, our spirits do rejoice in all your gracious acts towards us, most of all the event we so look forward to  - the wonderful and precious gift of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks for the willingness of Mary to believe that the impossible could and would happen. Help us to have a like faith.  Open our hearts and minds to believe that your promises can come to surprising fulfillment. Show us how we can best serve you with mercy and in humility, empowering people to live lives of dignity and worth.   As we look at our television screens and read accounts of people throughout the world who are being made powerless because of the greed and violence of others, remind us of the great possibility of prayer to effect changes for good.  To bring down the powerful and to lift up the lowly; to fill those who are hungry and to drive away those who profit by the weakness and ignorance of others.   Be with all those who feel that life holds no hope and help them and each of us truly to believe O God, that with you, nothing is impossible.   This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen

by Rev Moira Laidlaw, Uniting Church in Australia. Liturgies Online.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

 1Our LORD, I will sing
         of your love forever.
   Everyone yet to be born
   will hear me praise
         your faithfulness.
 2I will tell them, “God's love
         can always be trusted,
   and his faithfulness lasts
         as long as the heavens.”
 3You said, “David, my servant,
         is my chosen one,
   and this is the agreement
         I made with him:
 4David, one of your descendants
         will always be king.”

19In a vision, you once said
         to your faithful followers:
   “I have helped a mighty hero.
     I chose him from my people
         and made him famous.
20David, my servant, is the one
         I chose to be king,
21and I will always be there
         to help and strengthen him.

22“No enemy will outsmart David,
     and he won't be defeated
         by any hateful people.
23I will strike down and crush
         his troublesome enemies.
24He will always be able
         to depend on my love,
   and I will make him strong
         with my own power.
25I will let him rule the lands
         across the rivers and seas.
26He will say to me,
   ‘You are my Father
         and my God,
   as well as the mighty rock
         where I am safe.’

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

For Children

Using a gyroscope, of all things, our resident children's storyteller, Ed Lewis, will remember how his Grandmother used to teach him that “Jesus lives inside me. At the time (ages 6, 7 and 8) I took this literally. I felt that Christ was ‘in me’ which, when I look back, is not a bad thing for a child to believe. As an adult, I realize that Christ does live within our hearts and soul.”

            A gyroscope? Two parts of the gyroscope are the frame and the rotating wheel. If we are the frame, Christ would be the spinning wheel in the center (who keeps us straight).  The pulling of the string (which activates the wheel) would be our prayers to God through Christ. In theory we need to activate that which is inside us with action on our part. Yes, that’s a bunch of symbolism little ones might struggle to comprehend, but it’s cool to watch a gyroscope!

2 Samuel 7:1-11

         In addition to being the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem was the hometown of another important Bible character – David. We turn now to the story of David in the second book of Samuel. On the screen to your right you see a picture of a stained glass window in the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sterling, Illinois which portrays David, the King of Israel. In his youth David played the harp to sooth the moods of King Saul, his predecessor. Later he wrote many of the Psalms in the Bible which continue to inspire. Here we see him singing to the music of the harp while the Ark of the Covenant is being carried into Jerusalem, a scene straight out of the sixth chapter of 2nd Samuel. We turn now to the scripture that immediately follows, one of the most important texts in the Old Testament. Listen. 

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-11





Go now, and celebrate God’s love all your days.
Give to Christ Jesus the obedience of faith,
offering yourself as the servant of the Lord
and allowing God’s Word to be fulfilled in you.

And may the only wise God establish you forever.
May the mysteries of Christ be conceived within you.
And may the Holy Spirit strengthen you and encircle you.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources
Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series,
also published by Brethren Press.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2008 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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