This service requires four gift boxes containing a dove, a candle, a Bible, and a wreath.
*Musical Call to Worship: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" CCS 431 OR “God Almighty We Are Waiting CCS 409
Carol: "Go, Tell It on the Mountain” CCS 409
Scripture: Genesis 8:1–12
Presider picks up the first box containing a dove.
Today we will take some time to reflect on a few of the spiritual gifts we all receive. Here’s a gift for us. Open the box and take out the dove. This dove represents the gift of peace. We can all receive this gift for the asking. When we are sad or troubled or impatient, we ask for and receive the gift of God’s peace. Shalom is another word for peace—the kind of peace that transforms our hearts and give us peace with our brothers and sisters. God’s love for us and our love for all people create a very special shalom. This is truly a wonderful gift.
Scripture: Ephesians 2:13–20
Here is the Advent gift: Christ is our peace. Place the dove in the worship setting.
Carol: "Silent Night! Holy Night!” CCS 421 OR “Peace Child” CCS 402
Presider picks up the second box containing a candle.
Here’s another gift for us. Open the box and take out the candle. This candle represents the gift of Jesus Christ who is the light of the world. Jesus came to light the darkness for all people.
Scripture: John 1:1–9
This is God’s gift. There is nothing we can do to earn it; we only need to accept the light. We live in the light of God’s love because that love pierced the darkness of the world. Light candle. This is a glorious, marvelous gift, and we accept it with humble, thankful hearts.
Carol: "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" CCS 423 OR “Blessed Be the God Of Israel” CCS 396
Presider picks up the third box containing the Bible.
Here is another gift for us. Open the box and take out the Bible. Scripture tells us that from God we receive wisdom and knowledge and understanding.
Scripture: Proverbs 2:6–10
Surely this gift of wisdom is very important—to have God’s wisdom and knowledge and the kind of understanding that comes from studying this precious gift. It’s a guide for our lives, comfort in our sorrow, and hope for our future. We cherish this gift and eagerly accept it. Place the open Bible in the worship setting.
Carol: "God’s Love Made Visible” CCS 411
Presider picks up the fourth box containing the wreath.
This is our final gift. This gift represents an eternal circle. Open the box and take out the wreath. God’s love for us is like that. It is complete and never-ending. Scripture gives us hope and a promise that Jesus Christ will come again, and we know that like the circle of this wreath, God’s love is endless and eternal. Place the wreath in the worship setting.
Scripture: Revelation 21:5–7
What a precious gift it is! We can live in peace and love with God now, not just sit and wait or carry a burden of sorrow. God’s love is eternal and with us now and forever. We accept this marvelous gift with our whole heart.
Carol: "The First Noel" CCS 424 OR “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” CCS 400
These gifts are ours to cherish. We are grateful for all the gifts we have received and pray that we might be good stewards over them. During this Advent season, we give grateful thanks to God for the most precious gift of Jesus Christ—our peace, our light, our never-ending source of wisdom and love.
*Carol: "Joy to the World! CCS 408
—Adapted from Margaret Lange in Worship for All Seasons II, pages 21–22. Used with permission.
Psalms and Singing
Advent Service of Psalms and Singing
Advent is both a beginning and an end, an alpha and omega of the church’s year of grace. Too often considered merely a season of preparation for the annual commemoration of Christ’s birth, this rich and many-layered season is actually designed to prepare us for the glorious possibilities of God’s kingdom on earth. It is a season of longing expectation: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
*Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” CCS 394 OR “People Look East” CCS 395
The First Lesson
Psalm 122:1–2, 6–9
Lift your eyes, Jerusalem, and see the power of your ruler. Look to a Savior who will break your bonds.
Sung Response: “All Earth Is Hopeful” CCS 392
The Second Lesson
Sung Response: “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus” CCS 400
The Third Lesson
Psalm 25:1, 4–7, 16–18
Sung Response: “I Need Thee Every Hour” CCS 188
The Fourth Lesson
Sung Response: “Blest Be The God of Israel” CCS 396 OR Wait for the Lord” CCS 399
The Fifth Lesson
Prayer of Confession
Lord, When Did We See You?
I was hungry and starving
and you were full;
and you were watering your garden;
With no road to follow, and without hope,
and you called the police
and were happy that they took me prisoner;
Barefoot and with ragged clothing,
and you were saying: “I have nothing to wear,
tomorrow I will buy something new.”
and you asked, “Is it infectious?”
and you said: “That is where all those of your class should be.”
Lord, have mercy!
—author unknown, accessed at www.ottawainnercityministries.ca
Sung Response: “View the Present Through the Promise” CCS 401
The Sixth Lesson
Sung Choral Prayer: “Prayer of the Children,” Kurt Bestor, arr. Andrea S. Klouse (The Pinnacle Group/Warner Bros., CH96165)
OR Sung Response: “Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
The Seventh Lesson
Sung Choral Response: “Joy in the Morning,” Natalie Sleeth (Hope Publishing, 1977)
OR Sung Response: “I Will Sing, I Will Sing” CCS 112
The Eighth Lesson
Psalm 89:1–5, 13–16
Hymn: “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” CCS 423
We always live in Advent. We are always waiting for the Messiah to come. The Messiah has come but is not yet fully manifest. The Messiah is not fully manifest in each of our lives, not fully manifest in humankind as a whole; just as Christ was born according to the flesh in Bethlehem of Judah, so must he be born according to the Spirit in each of our souls.
*Parting Hymn: “Joy to the World!” CCS 408
This service, which tells the entire Christmas story, is led by the organist rather than a presider up front. It is very effective to have the readers read from the back of the congregation as pictures are projected that are reflective of the readings. The words to the songs can be projected on the screen.
Prelude: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
Hymn of Christmas: “Lovely Child, Holy Child” CCS 428
Welcome and Invitation
Incorporate in the welcome a request to follow the instructions in the bulletin or on the screen and the leadership of the organ.
Hymn of Praise "O Come, All Ye Faithful" CCS 431
Read "Come Now, O Prince of Peace" CCS 225
Prophecy and Hope
Reading (adapted from Isaiah 11)
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord. The Messiah will come from Israel and he shall be great like King David. He shall come as a branch from the great tree that grows out of the roots of greatness. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear and delight in God....
He shall come with justice and with righteousness and will stand with the meek of the earth. When he comes he will establish his kingdom and it shall be a peaceable one. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them...
People will no longer hurt or destroy on God's holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Listen, O people, to the voice of the Lord.
Hymn: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” CCS 407OR “All Earth is Hopeful” CCS 392
Reading (adapted from Luke 1)
...the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David...And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you...Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive...and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Hymn: "Canticle of the Turning” CCS 404 OR “People, Look East” CCS 395
Reading (begin the organ meditation on the last line of the reading)
Angel voices in the heavens
Joyfully proclaim thy birth,
Singing of a promised kingdom,
Reign of righteousness and worth--
Songs of prophecy and promise,
Peace, goodwill have come to earth.
Organ Meditation: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"
Hymn "Silent Night! Holy Night!" CCS 421
- Organ only
Hymn "Away in a Manger" CCS 426
- Children and youth
Ministry of Music: "Mary, Did You Know"
Hymn: "Joseph, Kind Joseph" CCS 414
This is God's Christmas greeting.
In the beautiful story of Jesus' birth,
it was sung by a chorus of angelic voices.
Heard at first only by Judean shepherds outside the town of Bethlehem,
nevertheless, it is a message that the whole world should hear.
On each Christmas Day,
God repeats His greeting.
Hymn: "Angels We Have Heard on High" CCS 427
Hymn: "Jesus, Our Brother Kind and Good” CCS 412
Reading: ”Wise Men Came Journeying” (stanzas 1 and 3 only) CCS 445
Accepting the Offering
"As with Gladness" - organ
Hymn: "We Three Kings, of Orient Are” CCS 438
- Left Men
- Right Men
- All Men
Our Challenge and Hope
Reading: "Some Children See Him," found in Hymns for the Family of God 181 (organ playing softly underneath the reading)
Hymn: "I Wonder as I Wander” CCS 435
Reading: "If There Is No Cross in the Manger" by Ann Weems, found in Reaching for Rainbows or Kneeling in Bethlehem
Hymn: "Look at This Man" CCS 26
Hymn: "Joy to the World!" CCS 408
Reading: "Christmas Comes Every Time We See God in Other Persons" by Ann Weems, found in Kneeling in Bethlehem
Postlude: "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - organ