Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 22, 2013
Worship 10:00 am          Sunday School 11:10am

Fourth Sunday of Advent

      “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” … And Joseph named him Jesus.
                             (Matthew 1:20c-21, 25b)

  Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)          "Love came down at Christmas"          208
  Prelude                                       "Christmas"

 Call to Worship                                                                     (back of bulletin)

*Hymn                                     "What child is this"                                      215

*Lighting the Fourth Candle

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                                   Romans 1:1-7                  (New Century Version)

  Hymn                       (vs. 1) "It came upon a midnight clear"                         195

  For Children                     "The Clown of God"        Tomie DePaola

  Hymn                       (vs. 4) "It came upon a midnight clear"                         195

  Scripture                                     Psalm 80:1-7    (Contemporary English Version)

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

  Advent Prayer Song                "Kindle a flame"                                     (insert)
                                                  (text/info   listen)

  Prayer                            (hum the above song during, then sing it again after the prayer)

  Scripture                                   Isaiah 7:10-17               (Common English Bible)

  Hymn                       (vs. 5) "It came upon a midnight clear"                         195

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

  Offertory                                    "Silent Night"
                              (Please sign the attendance pad and pass it on)

  Scripture                                 Matthew 1:18-25                                   (NRSV)

  Message                           "What’s in a name?" (mp3)

*Hymn                                   "The Lord is coming"                                 (insert)



*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship

(on the back of the bulletin - folks encouraged to read during the Prelude:)

             Every December we are bombarded with movies, Christmas specials, and age-old fairy tales that tell compelling stories of good news. They are usually based on the notion that if we believe enough or give enough, miracles will unfold. But there is good news that penetrates deeper, reaches further, and means so much more than any Hollywood blockbuster or storied fable could: the Good News embodied in the flesh and bone of an infant who will live the greatest story ever told. Enjoy the movies; live in Jesus.


                                                        (after Prelude:)


One:  Santa and his elves do good work, but we are gathered today to…


All:    Tell the Good News.


One:  It’s a Wonderful Life when brothers and sisters share with one another, and so we…


All:    Tell the Good News.


One:  Whether we are Home Alone or on Christmas Vacation, we live to…


All:    Tell the Good News.


One:  Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future offer gifts of perspective,
          yet the greatest gift of all will soon be born again. Born again to…


All:    Tell the Good News.

by Greg Davidson Laszakovits, pastor
Elizabethtown, PA Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin

Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085, "The Living Word Series
Illustration by Kate Cosgrove; © 2012 Gather 'Round curriculum

Lighting the Fourth Candle

               (A couple recently married come forward as we sing, bringing a lit candle and a microphone. They proceed to light the three previous outer candles on the Advent wreath, but leave the fourth – the one in the back – unlit. They then stand to the side until the hymn is over.)  

1 - Our HOPE is in Christ, who makes new beginnings possible.

2 - Because Jesus has torn down the barriers between us and God, we daily discover fresh ways of making PEACE with one another.

1 - JOY overflows into every nook and cranny of our lives, even into those times when we are not at our best.

2 - Now we light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath, representing LOVE.

1 - “God so loved the world that he sent his Son.”

2 - “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might, and your neighbor as yourself.”

1 - “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said.

2 - Pray with us.


Opening Prayer

1 - Light of the world, shine upon us. May your Word be a lamp to our feet, illuminating our journey.

2 - Light of the world, shine within us. May your Holy Spirit empower us to walk by faith, conscious of or sin but aware and alive in your grace.

1 - Light of the world, shine through us. May your Love be what others see when they look to us.

2 - Inspire us this hour, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


For Children
The Clown of God"

             This picture book, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, tells the story of Giovanni, a boy who grew up on the streets of Renaissance-era Sorrento, Italy. Along the way, he discovers he has a gift for juggling, eventually becoming a recognized artist at it, performed in clown-face. The pinnacle of his act is a rainbow of balls kept aloft, crowned by a gold one he calls, "the Sun in the heavens!"
            Time goes by, Giovanni grows old, his artistry no longer appreciated. He puts away his clown-face and craft and returns home, a beggar once more. One cold winter night he takes shelter in the Franciscan monastery church in Sorrento. Sleeping in a corner of the sanctuary, he is awakened by a Christmas Eve service. After all have left, he approaches the statue of madonna and child, and beholds a stern and serious face on the young one in his mother's lap. Recalling the beautiful gifts others had brought in worship, he wishes for something to offer, also.
            "But wait," he cries, "I used to make people smile." Giovanni then puts on his clown-face and performs once again for the Christ-child. His act culminates in the rainbow of balls, crowned by the gold one, "the Sun in the heavens!" The old man's heart is pounding as he offers his gift. "For You, sweet Child, for You!" And his heart stops.
            The priest discovers his dead body, "may his soul rest in peace." Another brother, however, beholds the child sitting in his mother's lap, holding the gold ball, with a smile on his face...  In the scripture reading that follows this children's story, the Psalmist (80:1-7 CEV) twice calls on God to "smile on us."

(hum “Kindle a flame” during, then sing it again after the prayer)

The longest night of the year has passed, O Lord,
      and you have been faithful through it,
            our light in the dark,
            our hope amid fears,
            our peace in the middle of chaos,
            our joy when happiness is a faded memory,
            our love between all the fractures of life
                  that threaten to tear us apart
                        from each other and from you.
We are so grateful that you are our Immanuel,
      with us every step of the way,
            to guide us when we are perplexed,
            to pick us up when we fall,
            to lead us in the paths of righteousness -
                  - simply for your name’s sake
                         (you are who you are, after all).
Our sharing has opened a window
      to some of what matters most to us,
            persons we care about,
            those we long to help
                   (though often feel helpless to do so),
            persons who should receive
                  not only our joy
                        but your amen, as well.
                              Bless them, and us.
      Like embers in a fire,
            kindle the flame of our faith,
                  that we might courageously
                        step out with you today, in Jesus’ name.

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

             In a few minutes, we will hear yet again a portion of the story of Jesus’ birth, told from the perspective of Joseph, the groom-to-be of Mary. As we prepare to return our tithes and offerings, I invite you to join with me in a prayer that reminds us of how the mother of Jesus may have seen things. Let us pray.

  Dear God,
whenever we get sour and grumbly,
or our faith seems weak and crumbly,
please help us all to become
like your holy daughter Mary,
who loved you bravely yet humbly,
no matter what pains it cost her
or how many friends it lost her.


prayer by Bruce Prewer,
a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia



In the name of the One who is with us always,
      even to the end of all things,
            and the beginning of something altogether new,
                  I send you.
      God calls you by name,
            you belong to the Lord.
      Know that you have the power to make choices
            and boldly step into the future.
      Know also that everything does not
            rest upon your shoulders.
There is no place you can go
      that God in Christ has not
            already arrived ahead you.
                  Don’t be afraid to live in him.


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:
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)

International Lesson:
International Bible Lesson
a weekly column by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
in "The Oklahoman" newspaper
also found

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

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.

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


©2013 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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