December 11, 2022 - Advent 3

For the week of December 11-17 – the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Morning prayer: O God, whose will is justice for the poor and peace for the afflicted, let Your herald’s urgent voice pierce our hardened hearts and announce the dawn of Your kingdom. Before the Advent of the One who baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit, let our complacency give way to conversion, oppression to justice, and conflict to acceptance of one another in Christ. Amen. (Sacramentary, USA )

Hymn: #221 In the Bleak Mid Winter

  1. In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
    snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
  2. Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
    heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
    In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
  3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there, cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
    but His mother only, in her maiden bliss, worshiped the Beloved with a kiss.
  4. What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
    if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

If you light an advent candle at home:  JOY  Light two of the purple candles plus the pink one

I John 4:7:  Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

We light this candle as a symbol of God’s love.

May the love of God rest firmly in our hearts and transform us into a people ready for the coming of Jesus.

O come, o come, Emmanuel

Children’s message

Isaiah 35:1-4

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’

Children’s Message

The Israelites have been away from their home for a long time. They have been captured and sent away to Babylon and they just want to go home. Have you ever been really homesick? Maybe you have gone to camp or away on vacation and then you reach a point, where you just want to be home? That is what the Israelites were feeling. Isaiah is telling them that God will return them home and will be their God. And as their God, He will save them, and when God does make a way for them to go home even the earth will be glad!

Right now in this cold weather it is hard to imagine nature being joyful – if there are any roses left, they are shivering in the cold, but when Jesus comes back all of creation will sing. What songs do you think you will hear? I think the birds will lead us in the singing as they practice in hope filled anticipation of the return of Jesus to restore creation to its splendor as in the first creation. What songs can we sing to be in anticipation of Jesus’ return? I think Jesus would want to hear us singing praises to the goodness and love of God.

Have you ever sung this song? Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. It is a short song of praise including all creation and all in the heavens. It reminds us of all God loves and intends to save. Let it be the quick song of your heart as we wait for the final return of Jesus.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: 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 sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightMission Central is the Mission supply warehouse for the Central PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Mission Central is all over the world and right here at home when floods and hurricanes destroy people’s homes, providing medical supplies, food and clothing.  Last year Mission Central assisted over 5.4 million people with over $7.3 million in resources.  LUMC missions team has designated $1000 to Missions Central in 2023.

Offering prayer: Generous God, as we bring our gifts to You this day, we acknowledge that we have been given so much by Your goodness, but we have been tight-fisted and slow in giving to help others. In this Advent season of preparation, we ask You to help us live in a new way, to walk a new highway, to set ourselves on the path that leads to a closer walk with Jesus, our example and redeemer. May this be the season when He finds the highways to our hearts prepared for His coming. In the name that is above all others. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #242 Love Came Down at Christmas

  1. Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, Love divine;
    Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.
  2. Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine;
    worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?
  3. Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine;
    love to God and all men, love for plea and gift and sign.

Scripture Lesson Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for He has looked with favour on the lowliness of His servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
His mercy is for those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
in remembrance of His mercy,
according to the promise He made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Message:    Love in Action                  Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Christmas – the birth of Christ – is a conversation, one between God and creation. God is speaking God’s vision to creation. God speaks it so we would hear and see God’s vision and for us to be part of this vision in the completion of the Kingdom of God.

We get the benefit of overhearing this conversation; it is utterly all around us, especially in this season of Advent. We read the stories and hear the prophecies, revisiting the pronouncement of what the Kingdom shall look like and what living in that kingdom will be like.

Sometimes we are prepared to hear the scriptures and we act in accordance with them as our guide. Other times, we are deaf to the depth of God’s heart for God’s creation and we lose the meaning of the good news of Jesus Christ. We are not always in listening mode. We get distracted with the needs of our lives, the tasks that we need to perform, the chores that need done and all the other stuff that fills our heads and lives. Our culture desires us to be busy, to be seen as productive, making every moment count. Idleness is a sin against productivity, we are taught we must have something to show for our time. Our accomplishments are measured for merit and valued so that we might be found to have some value or worth.

So to get our attention against the background of noise in our world and in our heads:

A pregnant, unwed teenager speaks:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for He has looked with favor on the lowly state of His servant.

Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is His name;

indeed, His mercy is for those who fear Him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones

and lifted up the lowly;

He has filled the hungry with good things

and sent the rich away empty.

He has come to the aid of His child Israel,

in remembrance of His mercy,

according to the promise He made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to His descendants forever.

Her praise should stop us in our tracks, or at least cause us to pause and ask this one question: This is the Kingdom of God, Where the poor are filled with good things and the rich sent away, the proud are scattered and the powerful cast down?

This runs counter to everything we have been taught. Power, money and knowledge, these have been lifted to us as the desired goals and many of us have exchanged our time, energy and health to do so. Yet, this young woman is given the mantle to proclaim in the birth of her Son the righting of the world. This isn’t a reversal of fortunes, this isn’t an equalization, but the fullness of justice in action and justice in action is love. All that has been given to us is given by God. There is enough to sustain all of us, yet there are those that go without even basic needs met because humanity has gone so off course from divine design.

How does this happen? We begin by making the birth of Jesus small, by limiting the message to an individual relationship with Jesus for salvation so we can have a place to go when we die. But that isn’t what Mary is saying at all. She is telling of a collective, community based outcome of the coming of Jesus, where it is for all – all the descendants of Abraham and all creation and this message is about what it is to be living in the earthly kingdom. This has real life implications for real people in physical bodies – not just about heavenly bound souls. This message is to feel the weight of injustice to be lifted from our shoulders and a fullness that reflects God’s mercy toward God’s creation.

Because Jesus came and continues to arrive in our hearts and lives everyday, we have the ability to live in the kingdom and it is upon us to embrace the kingdom or speak against the kingdom, every single day. It is the building up or tearing down of all that God has pronounced through the prophets and the gift of Jesus.

Mary said yes, let it be as you have said – I will be an agent for Your kingdom. What do you say? Amen.

Closing Hymn: #557 God of Grace and God of Glory

  1. God of grace and God of glory, on Thy people pour Thy power;
    Crown Thine ancient church’s story; bring her bud to glorious flower.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, (of this hour)

For the facing of this hour.

  1. Lo! the hosts of evil round us scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways!
    Fears and doubts too long have bound us; free our hearts to work and praise.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days, (of these days)

For the living of these days.

  1. Cure Thy children’s warring madness, bend our pride to Thy control;
    Shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,

(kingdom’s goal) lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

  1. Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore;
    Let the search for Thy salvation be our glory evermore.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving Thee who we adore, (we adore)

Serving Thee whom we adore.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.

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