Sunday Worship Service – Advent IV

December 17, 2023

Prelude: Improvistation – James Washington, pianist



Wise Words from John Gaul

Hymn:People, Look East”, Vs. 1, 2, 5

Opening of the Word

Responsive Invocation: 

We are journeying to Bethlehem,

    To ponder the promise of the prophet.

We are journeying to Bethlehem,

    To sing the carol of the angels.

We are journeying to Bethlehem,

    To greet the Savior of the world.

We are journeying to Bethlehem,

    We come to worship Christ, the newborn King.

Invitation to Prayer:

O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our maker.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Amen.

O Lord, our heavenly Creator, whose great love holds a forgiveness for all who desire and seek it: we thank thee for thy gracious assurance that thou art always near and ready to forgive.  Pardon and deliver us from all our sins; confirm and strengthen us in all goodness and truth, and bring us into everlasting life; for thy mercy’s sake.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

O Lord, open thou our lips:

And our mouths shall show forth thy praise.

*Praise ye the Lord!

The Lord’s name be  praised!

The Sanctus

God of All, Your Name is Holy

Earth and Heaven are full of Your Glory

Alleluia,  Amen.

Lighting of the Fourth Advent Candle: “The Candle of Love”

(The Candles of Hope, Peace and Joy are re-lit)

Leader: We near the completion of our shared advent pilgrimage. We have lit the candles of hope, peace, and joy.

People: Let us rejoice and be glad, for we have been given a sign: See, the young woman is with child, and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, God with us.

Leader: Thus the prophet Isaiah spoke of the restoration of the human soul to what it was always meant to become, the vehicle of God’s love, created to bring hope, peace, joy, and love to humankind in all of its amazing variety and potential. Today we light the fourth advent candle — the candle of love.

(The Candle of Love is lit)

Leader: In accordance with God’s promise.

People: We eagerly wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

(The Candle of Love is lit)

Leader: In accordance with God’s promise.

People: We eagerly wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Leader: Let us pray.

Unison Prayer:

Eternal God, you taught us that the night is far spent and the day is at hand. Keep us awake and alert, watching for your kingdom. Make us strong in faith, so that we may see the Lord close at hand, and hear him speak, and serve him, as we see and hear and serve our neighbor. Give us joy in this season of hope. Amen.

Congregation Carol: “One Candle is Lit”, Vs. 1 – 4

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-20; Isaiah 46:3-13; Arcana Coelestia #6044  (Swedenborg)  

Children’s Message

Solo: “He Shall Feed His Flock/Come Unto Him” From Messiah by G.F. Handel (1685-1759)

Spiritual Message: Why shepherds? – Rev. Junchol Lee 

Silent Meditation

Affirmation of Faith (unison)

Great Spirit, Christ, the Compassionate One, Light of the World, You are that which sustains and nurtures our spirit. You draw us closer to Heaven and to each other. Your Divine Love and Wisdom flows into every living soul. You dwell among us and warm every human heart. We acknowledge our need to be fed by your Sacred Spirit, to share in the beauty of life, and to build a Holy City on Earth by giving of ourselves, yet knowing that all that is good and true flows into us from You. Amen.

Prayer of the People/Pastoral Prayer

Invitation to the Offering

Offertory: Improvistation


Praise God the Source of life and birth; Praise God the Word who came to earth. Praise God the Spirit, holy flame; All glory, honor to God’s name.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication

Hymn:  “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling– Vs. 1, 2. & 4


Closing of the Word

Sung Response: Advent Benediction 

May the Lord God Almighty bless and keep you, we pray. May God’s face shine upon you, and grace hallow your way with hope and peace and joy; Love, God’s own incarnation, be born in you today. Amen.

Postlude: Improvistation