~ SERVICE OF THE WORD ~
December 27, 2020
Christmastide / Saint John's Day
PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
God of stars and stables, prepare us now to receive the good news of a baby's birth. As we gather here in this space, may we feel your love. As we see evergreen decorations, may we think of your Spirit, ever present. As we sing carols and look to the Nativity, may we remember the stories of old. As we see the Advent wreath, may the candles assure us of your presence in the full circle of our lives. We offer this prayer in the name of Bethlehem's bright child who comes to be with us: Emmanuel. Amen
GREETING & CALL TO WORSHIP
Welcome to Saint John’s Church on this first Sunday of Christmastide. December 27 is also the day we remember the Apostle John, the namesake of our church. We gather together to worship and celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God with us!
GATHERING CAROL "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"
PSALM OF THE DAY
O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants have you founded a bulwark
because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
CONFESSION OF SIN
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Let us confess our sins before God and one another. Gracious God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you have promised to receive us when we come to you. We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed. We have disobeyed your law. We have not loved you or our neighbors as we should. Forgive us, O God, and grant that we may live and serve you in newness of life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. This is the Good News of the Gospel: through Jesus Christ we are all forgiven. Amen.
SHARING GOD'S PEACE
ACT OF PRAISE "Glory Be To The Father"
OLD TESTAMENT READING
Numbers 6:22-27 – The Priestly Benediction
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
NEW TESTAMENT READING
Philippians 2: 5-11 – Jesus’ Humility
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Luke 2: 15-21 – The Shepherds Visit
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
CAROL "See Amid The Winter's Snow"
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.
MORNING PRAYERS & LORD’S PRAYER (using debts/debtors)
Gracious Lord, as we worship together today, we pray that you hear our prayers for those whose needs are great: For all who are living under the strain of this Christmas season through lack of money, lack of family, lack of peace, lack of love. May you be with them and supply all their needs.
We pray for those who cannot hear the joy of the season because of bitterness, who cannot feel the joy because of emptiness, who cannot see the joy because of fear and grief. Comfort them and fill their hearts with Christmas joy.
We pray for all who feel distanced from Christ’s love, for those who are far from home, for those separated from their loved ones, for those who are in the hospital, for first responders and those who serve in the armed forces. Strengthen them in the knowledge that Christ is with them always.
We pray for those who feel marginalized through imprisonment, additions, or depression. Bless those who are called to serve in politics, education, and healthcare. May they all know the peace and presence of Emmanuel.
We pray for the nations of the world. Like the angels that appeared to the shepherds, may they be inspired by your love to bring peace in place of war and praise in place of brutality.
In this Christmas season, we pray for your Church. May our message be one of welcome and love. May our actions be marked by generosity, understanding, and grace. May we share with all the true meaning of this holy season.
We ask all these things through Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray saying…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.
The love of God is born new in the world through our acts of compassion, peace and justice. Let us offer our gifts in a spirit of generosity and hope. Please join in singing God’s praise…
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
God of generosity, in this time of giving, we are grateful for what we have received from you. In this time of sharing, we are challenged to share what we have with others. Receive our gifts with our thanks, as we dedicate them to the work of your Kingdom, and the incarnation of your love in action, here and across the world; in the name of the Christ-Child. Amen.
PARTING CAROL "The First Nowell"
COMMISSION & BENEDICTION
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen!
THREE-FOLD AMEN & POSTLUDE