Listening for the Promise
December 24, 2017 - Fourth Sunday in Advent
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
My husband Tom and I were missionaries in India for five years. In 2013, after being back in the States for a few weeks, we returned to India only to find out Tom had been banned from ever re-entering the country. Within three hours after learning this devastating news we boarded a plane for the 15 hour flight back to Chicago.
Leaving the mission field was difficult. Our emotions were up and down for several months following our departure. Disbelief, sadness, and grief filled our hearts…so much grief. It seemed we were just going through the motions back at home. We wanted to be here but didn’t want to at the same time. God had called us to serve in India – what happened? And now, what’s next? One thing we noticed though, through all this upheaval, was a sense of God’s peace in our hearts.
A little over a year later I was reading the story from Luke where the angel visited Mary and gave her a message from God. Wow, what a message it was too! But Mary’s response, after feeling confused, disturbed, and wondering, “how can this happen?” was, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Amazing! She accepted this message from God and said, “Yes.” I sat there for the longest time thinking about Mary accepting such a huge change coming into her life. Did she wonder what people might think of her or how Joseph would react? Was she so overwhelmed thinking about this that she had difficulty focusing on anything else? Or maybe, just maybe, she felt some excitement…? Mary loved and trusted God so much that she did what God asked her to do. Even with the difficulties that she would be facing, she willingly chose to follow God and was content to live in his will.
I came to realize that I wanted to be contented where the Lord wanted us, doing what he was calling us to do. It was not in India any longer; it was back home where we were needed. The Lord was speaking to my heart. I accepted and said yes to the changes that were happening in our life. It felt as if a burden had been lifted from me. Contentment is seeking God in faith and trusting he knows best - accepting and doing his will - and experiencing hope, peace and rest in him. It’s learning and growing in the Lord, which is what God wants for his children.
(Congregational responses are in bold print)
Prelude Mark Hurley, Organist
Call to Worship ELW # 248, vs. 4
Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim, one more light the bowl shall brim, shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together. People look east, and sing today Love, the Star, is on the way.
A prayer during the lighting of the fourth candle of the Advent wreath - the Angel’s Candle: God of Glory, as we light the fourth candle on the Advent wreath, the Angel’s Candle, guide and direct us to share the Good News of Jesus’ birth with a world that is covered in darkness. Let his light shine through all who believe, that hope and joy would replace darkness and pain. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.
Welcome and Announcements Pastor John
*Gathering Song ELW # 257
*Confession & Forgiveness (Pastor)
Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins to God our Father, humbly asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.
Our help is in the Name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth.
I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. And you forgive the iniquity of my sin.
Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess to you that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed. Therefore we flee for refuge to your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring your grace, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray…O most merciful God, who gave his only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy on us, and for his sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by the Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of him and of his will, and true obedience to his Word, that by his grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us, and has given his only Son to die for us, and for his sake forgives us all our sins. To them that believe in his Name, he gives power to become a child of God, and bestows upon them his Holy Spirit. He that believes, and is baptized, shall be saved. Grant this, O Lord, unto us all. Amen.
*Greeting (Pastor) ELW pg. 156
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.
*Kyrie (Worship Assistant) ELW pg. 156-157
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy. Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord. Amen.
*Prayer of the Day (Pastor)
Let us pray…Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. With your great might, give us your help, that whatever is hindered by our sins may be speedily accomplished by your grace; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Anthem Hymn 8:30AM Adult Choir ELW # 267
(Sam Rey will play the saxophone during the Anthem Hymn @ 11AM service)
First Reading: (Worship Assistant) 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
The word of the Lord came to the prophet Nathan to go and tell King David to build God a house. The Lord, who lived in tents and on the move with Israel through the wilderness, had never had a proper house. He commanded Israel to build him a house of cedar where his people would not be disturbed or afflicted by their enemies.
1Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” 4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ 8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.
16“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
The word of the Lord, thanks be to God.
Psalm: Psalm # 89 (Worship Assistant)
The Lord promised David that he would establish his descendants forever and put him on the throne. This promise was fulfilled in David’s life but extended for generations with the culmination of the covenant being realized in Jesus Christ.
Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
For I am persuaded that your love is established forever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
‘I will establish your line forever, and preserve your throne for all generations.’”
The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O Lord, and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones;
You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people: “I have set the crown upon a warrior and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him.
My hand will hold him fast and my arm will make him strong.
No enemy shall deceive him, nor any wicked man bring him down.
I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and love shall be with him, and he shall be victorious through my name.
I shall make his dominion extend from the Great Sea to the River.
He will say to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.’
I will make him my firstborn and higher than the kings of the earth.
I will keep my love for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his line forever and his throne as the days of heaven.”
Second Reading: (Worship Assistant) Romans 16:25-27
Paul ended his letter to the believers in Rome with a final blessing. He reminded them that there is one who is able to give strength. It is the one about whom the apostle preached; Jesus Christ. What was once a mystery of faith is now known. What was once hidden has now been revealed through the prophets, and the word of God has come to fruition. All of this serves to grant obedience to those who believe.
25Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith; 27to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Word of God, word of life, thanks be to God.
(Worship Assistant: “Please rise for the reading of the Gospel”)
*Gospel Acclamation (sung) ELW pg. 160
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
*Holy Gospel: (Pastor) The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the 1st Chapter. Glory to you, O Lord. Luke 1:26-38: To a young virgin girl an angel was sent with an incredible message. “The Lord is with you,” he said as he laid out to her God’s plan for the salvation of the world. This young girl, not yet married, would be the chosen vessel for God’s one and only Son. Mary would be the God-bearer and was instructed to name him “God saves.”
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He 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 father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “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 called holy; the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. The gospel of the Lord, praise to you, O Christ.
Sermon Pastor Bill Wallace
*Hymn of the Day ELW # 241
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*Prayers of Intercession (Worship Assistant & Pastor)
(P): Let us pray for the faithfulness of the Church, the life of the world, and all those in need. (A brief silence.)
(W): Wonderful Counselor, as your church gathers on this holy night, increase our joy in your Son who has come among us. Let your saving Word ring out in our songs, our worship, our words, and our lives. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
(W): Mighty God, through your Son’s humble birth the yoke of sin that weighs us down has been crushed. Bring comfort, consolation, and strength to those who carry heavy burdens of grief, illness, fear, or pain. By the light of your Christ, pierce the darkness that enshrouds them so that they might know that surpassing peace that comes only from you. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
(W): Everlasting Father, you made your home among us and call us your own children. Be present with those families who cannot physically be together to celebrate the joy of your Son’s birth. Let their love span the distance between them just as your love for us spans time and place. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
(W): Prince of Peace, may the world know your peace in the depths of every human heart. Grant a respite in the violence that plagues the land of your Son’s birth as well as the places on earth where violence and war wreak havoc on human life. Quell the doubts and fears in every restless heart. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
(P): Into your hands, almighty God, we commend all for whom we pray; trusting in your abundant mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
*Peace: (Pastor) ELW pg. 161
The peace of Christ be with you always. And also with you.
Offering ELW pg. 161
Offering Anthem Organist or Adult Choir
*Assembly Song (Come, Thou…) ELW # 254 vs. 1
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
*Offering Prayer: (Worship Assistant) ELW pg. 107
Let us pray…God of all creation, all you have made is good, and your love endures forever. You bring forth bread from the earth and fruit from the vine. Nourish us with these gifts, that we might be for the world signs of your gracious presence in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
*The Great Thanksgiving: (sung)(Pastor) ELW pg. 161
The Lord be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
*Preface Pastor Bill Wallace
*Response to Preface: (sung) ELW pg. 162
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
*Words of Institution: (Pastor) ELW pg. 108, #II
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.
Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.
*The Lord’s Prayer: ELW pg. 163
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Communion (distribution & song): (sung) ELW pg. 164
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant us peace. Amen.
Communion Hymn ELW # 676
*Table Blessing (Pastor)
The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace. Amen.
*Post Communion Canticle (sung) ELW # 254 vs. 2
Born thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a king; born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all-sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.
*Prayer after Communion (WA) ELW pg. 114
Let us pray…O God, we give you thanks that you have set before us this feast, the body and blood of your Spirit and strengthen us to serve all in need and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
*Blessing (Pastor) ELW pg. 115
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine on you with grace and mercy. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.
*Dismissal (Worship Assistant) ELW pg. 115
Go in peace. Christ is with you. Thanks be to God.
*Sending Song ELW # 260
For gals who are desiring to read & learn God’s word together… “Journey Sisters” bible study has resumed. We are meeting on 1st & 3rd Thursdays of every month…See you there!
“Meet, Greet & Eat” Fellowship * Sundays 9:30 -10:45 am * a time to gather, get acquainted, talk about church events & have a bite too!…open to everyone!... your food & beverage donations support this weekly mission, thank you for your generosity… for volunteer training & commitment schedules or donation coordination, please contact Irene (443-465-9087)..Peace!
Hurricane Harvey and Irma: We are continuing to collect items for Disaster Relief. Please see the list posted in the Narthex! Thank you for your continued support of our disaster relief!
FROM OUR ORGANIST: The keyboard is back but still under repair. We are in need of donations to meet our additional service calls and adjustments from the repairs. Please give! A special envelope is in the Narthex. Thank you for your donations to our music ministry!
WNALC Group is collecting old, unwanted and broken cellphones. Every cellphone that we turn in to be recycled will send 2 calling cards to active service men and women in the field. There is a basket in the Narthex for your donations. Thank you for your support!
Birthday Dinner will be held at Jad’s Caddy Shack on Back River Neck Road on Thursday, January 18th at 6:30pm. If you plan to attend in January, please contact Pam Keller at 410-335-7226 by Wednesday, 1/17. Come join the fun! Get to know fellow parishioners on a different level! It does not have to be your birthday to attend.
Hershey Bears Annual Hockey Game has been scheduled for Saturday, February 3rd at 7pm. The Bears will play the Charlotte Checkers. It is Faith & Family night and our tickets are in section 110 (yes, we are back to the lower level). The tickets are $20.50 per person and the first 5,000 in attendance will receive a free Bears baseball cap. Please contact Joe Hauer at email@example.com to reserve your tickets or for additional information.
Raffle Tickets on sale now for a Luther’s Rose blanket and The Case for Christianity book. Both items are on display in the Fellowship hall. The raffle will be drawn at the Christmas Eve fellowship between the 8:30pm and 11pm services. Tickets are available between services in the fellowship hall. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.
Christmas Eve Service Schedule
Morning Traditional services will be held at 8:30am and 11am. Children’s Christmas Eve service will be held at 6:30pm. Christmas Eve Candlelight services will be held at 8:30pm and 11pm. All services will have fellowship in between. All are welcome to attend!
Annual Poinsettias Sale! For anyone who ordered poinsettias, your plants will be available for pick after the 11PM service this evening or after. Please do not take any poinsettias from the altar until after the 11PM service this evening. A list will be available after the 11PM service. Thank you for your continued support.
Donations for the Holiday Food Baskets: A huge “Thank You” to everyone who donated to the pantry this holiday season and assisted with the distribution. We distributed 60 baskets between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thank you again for your continued support of this ministry.
Sunday School/Confirmation Class: On Sundays, December 24th and 31st, we will NOT be having Sunday School or Confirmation classes. The Streets of Hope men will be housed at St. Matthew from 12/23 - 1/7, and using some of the classrooms for their personal belongings and for sleeping. Also, if the temperature is too cold, they remain at the church instead of leaving from 7am - 6pm. Our students and families are encouraged to come to morning worship on both Sundays at 8:30 or 11 am., and one of the Christmas Eve worship services (6:30, 8:30, or 11pm).
Christmas Eve fellowship between the Children’s Service and the 8:30pm Candlelight Service: The Parish Education Committee & Youth Group are sponsoring the fellowship refreshments between the 6:30 and 8:30 pm. services. Please bring a favorite side dish/appetizer, snack, or dessert (Parish Ed & Youth chairpersons will provide the beverages).
Clothing Drive to benefit the Youth Group will be held from today until Sunday, February 11th. Proceeds from the clothing drive will go toward the ski trip. Please bring in all your gently used clothing, linens, towels and small housewares for donations! Please see Vicki Borreson for the full list of items eligible for donation. Thank you for your continued support of our Youth Group!
Hoagie Sale begins in January! Please watch for order forms and details for this year’s Hoagie Sale!
Souper Bowl of Caring: The youth will host this yearly event to collect funds and non-perishable food items for the church's food pantry. More will be in January bulletins. Final collection is Sunday, February 4th.
Intentional Sisterhood Waterlilyz “It’s a Sister Thing” Event this year will be held on Saturday, February 24th from 9am to 4pm @ Redeemer Lutheran Church in Damascus, MD. For registration, please see Irene Markley.
Save the Date: Women’s Prayer Brunch is scheduled for Saturday, April 28th from 11am to 2pm. Stay tuned for details!