Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
December 6, 2015
Worship 10:00 am          Sunday School 11:10am

Second Sunday of Advent

      And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways… (Luke 1:76)

  Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)             “An Advent Song”            (insert)

  Call to Worship

  Hymn                      (vs. 1-2)O come, O come, Immanuel                   172
                                     (children go to the back as we sing)

*Unison Prayer                                                                    (back of bulletin)

*Hymn                          Love came down at Christmas                         208

*Lighting the Advent Candles

  Preparing the way                       Luke 3:1-6

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

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

  Quiet Response          (vs. 3)O little town of Bethlehem                        191

  Scripture                                   Malachi 3:1-4

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

  Hymn                                    (vs. 3)Silent night                                    193

  Pastoral Prayer

  Scripture                              Luke 1:5-25, 57-80

  Message                            God's interruption (mp3)

*Hymn                            Oh, how shall I receive thee                           182



*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship

             The words to “O come, O come, Immanuel,” #172 in our hymnal, go back fifteen hundred years, and were chanted in Latin as part of evening vespers worship leading up to Christmas. Known as the “Great Antiphons” or “Great O’s,” each verse heralds the coming of the Messiah with an Old Testament name, and ends with a petition based on that name. There were originally 7 verses, of which our hymnal has six, and were sung, one each day, from December 17 to the 23rd. The tune only goes back five hundred years, and adds the “Rejoice” following each verse.

             We began Advent last week with the 1st and 5th verses. Today we sing again the 1st and add the 2nd. While we sing, all children are invited to go quietly to the back of the sanctuary to help us prepare this room for the coming of Christ. Let us enter into worship with this ancient song.

info derived from The Story of Christian Hymnody, p. 30
by Ernest E. Ryden, © 1959 Augustana Book Concern
and from the Hymnal Companion, p.245
Joan A Fyock, writer / Lani Wright, editor
© 1996 Brethren Press. www.brethrenpress.com

Unison Prayer


             O Lord of relentless love, kindle within us a love that is genuine and a joy for the truth, leading us to bear all things that make for harmony and well-being.
Strengthen our inner person, grounding us in love, so that Christ might dwell in our hearts through faith.
Help us to understand fully Christ’s unbounded love that surpasses all knowledge, so we may be filled with the fullness of God.
Teach us to speak the truth in love, and to grow up in the art of caring and understanding.
Grant us courage to empty ourselves out of love like Christ, who was born in a stable and forced from his homeland, by living humbly and embracing the needs of the refugee, the banished, and the imprisoned.
Assure us in all things that nothing can separate us from God’s love found in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.


adapted from various letters of Paul by Robert W. Neff
University Baptist & Brethren Church
State College, Pennsylvania
© 2015 Brethren Press. www.brethrenpress.com
Church of the Brethren Living Word Bulletin
Anchor/Wallace, Sleepy Eye MN 56085,
"The Living Word" Series

Lighting the Advent Candles

             While the congregation sings “Love came down at Christmas,” 2 children come down the central aisle carrying lit Christmas Eve candles. They go and stand on either side of the worship table until the end of the hymn. The rest of the children (if there are more), come down the side aisles and pick up the two pieces of the Bethlehem backdrop (one located on each side) and take them around the side doors of the baptismal, up the steps and down into the empty baptismal pool (quietly) and put them up on the ledge behind the worship table, connecting them in the middle. Then they come around and stand at the bottom of the steps. [The adults in the back will have instructed them all in what they are to do for the candlelighting and preparing the way, and will accompany and help them do this task.]

When the hymn has completed, the first child lights the candle in the front of the wreath and says, loudly:

“We re-light the candle of HOPE.”

Then, the second child lights the candle on the right side of the wreath and says, loudly:

“We light the candle of LOVE.”

The worship leader motions for the congregation to sit.

Preparing the way

             When the congregation is sitting, the children quietly complete their morning’s task of preparing the sanctuary by putting the manger (located on the floor) up in front of the tree. If there are fewer children, the Bethlehem backdrop task (to have been done during the previous hymn) may need to be accomplished quietly while the worship leader reads Luke 3:1-6. When the children are done, they return to their seats.

Note: how the tasks are divided up depends on how many children are there.
Adult involvement is key – at least 3 needed for each side and the candlelighting.


 Luke 3:1-6

            In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

   “A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
     ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
          make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
       every mountain and hill made low.
   The crooked roads shall become straight,
       the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

Listen to this being read

scripture text from the New International Version®, NIV®
© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

           So many names … some hard to pronounce … locating the story in a particular time and place … connecting to a family. This “voice calling in the wilderness,” this man who was sent to “prepare the way of the Lord,” this John – referred to as “the Baptist” – was the son of someone. He was himself conceived in love, born out of promise – a tale we will hear once again later this morning, as remembered by gospel storyteller Luke.

           As you return your offering just now, prepare yourself. Are there things that need to get straightened out in your life? Keep working at it. Are there lows that need filling in, highs that need leveling? Continue doing so. Are there rough patches needing attention? Prayerfully ponder this as you give. We are all under construction, every day of our lives, every step along the way. Like John, we were conceived in love, God’s love, and born out of promise, God’s promise. May that love and hope be what prepares us for the coming of the Lord.

Ushers? Come and guide our giving.


Pastoral Prayer


written closer to the time (if not at the moment)


Luke 1:5-25, 57-80


1 - From the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Listen and receive!




2 - In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,


1 - Zechariah, which means “God has remembered.”


2 - Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.


1 – Elizabeth, which means “My God’s oath.”


2 - Both of them were righteous before God,


1 - Righteous.


2 - living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.


1 - Blameless.


2 - But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.


1 - Childless… Good people, living right, desiring more, keeping faith.


2 - Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty,


1 - Righteous, blameless, childless.


2 - he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood,


1 - His name was picked at random, but was it simply by chance?


2 - he was chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.


1 - What an honor! Clear out the old ashes. Put new incense on the altar. Holy is the Lord!


2 - 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.


1 - A time of prayer. A time of worship.


2 - 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.


1 - God’s messenger! Be still and know that I am God.


2 - 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.


1 - Fear and trembling. Holy is the Lord!


2 - 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.


1 - How long has this prayer been prayed?


2 - Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.


1 - John, which means, “The LORD has shown favor” or “God is gracious.”


2 - 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.


1 - Can you see it, Zechariah?


2 - He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.


1 - The Nazarite vow – a life of holiness!


2 - 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.


1 - Not just a priest, but a prophet!


2 - 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


1 - Before whom will he go? For whom is John to prepare the way?


2 - 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so?


1 - Abraham had the same question when promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:8)


2 - How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.


1 - Yes, there is that little detail.


2 - 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”




2 - 21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary.


1 - Something is different.


2 - 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 23 When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.


1 - Yes, the LORD has shown favor. God is gracious… Luke’s gospel story continues with Mary, a young kinswoman of Elizabeth, who is pregnant also, and comes to visit. But that is an episode for another time. We turn now to the day when the Temple promise begins to unfold.


2 - 57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.


1 - “I am an old man,” Zechariah had said, “and my wife is getting on in years.” Listen and receive!


2 - 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father.


1 - Like father, like son.


2 - 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”


1 - “The LORD has shown favor.”  “God is gracious.”


2 - 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”


1 - We’ve never done it that way before.


2 -  62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him.


1 - Poor, silent Zechariah.


2 - 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.”


1 - “The LORD has shown favor.”  “God is gracious.”


2 -  And all of them were amazed.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
              for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
    69  He has raised up a mighty savior for us
              in the house of his servant David,
   70  as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
     71     that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
     72  Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
              and has remembered his holy covenant,
     73  the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
              to grant us
 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
              might serve him without fear,
 75 in holiness and righteousness
              before him all our days.
     76  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
              for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
     77  to give knowledge of salvation to his people
              by the forgiveness of their sins.
     78  By the tender mercy of our God,
              the dawn from on high will break upon us,
     79  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
              to guide our feet into the way of peace.


1 - Listen and receive!


2 - 80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.


Scripture text from 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



May God continue to prepare his way in you,
    so that your love will flourish,
        and you will not only love much,
                                  but love well.
May you, along this Advent path,
    keep learning to love appropriately,
        using your head and testing your feelings
            so that your love is sincere and intelligent,
                                    not sentimental gush.
May God grant you the ability
    to live a lover’s life,
                  circumspect and exemplary,
        a life Jesus will be proud of:
            bountiful in fruits from the soul,
                making Jesus Christ attractive to all,
                    getting everyone involved
                        in the glory and praise of God.

based upon Philippians 1:9-11
as paraphrased in The Message.
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.
Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group


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:
Rightly Divided

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)


International Lesson:
International Bible Lessons Commentary


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
Shine Curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2015 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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