December 20, 2020: “On the Road to Revelation”

Preparing for Worship

Today we continue the Advent journey, nearing its end. Advent is the beginning of the church year, when we place ourselves in the story of those faithful Israelites who were waiting in hope for their Messiah and the coming of God’s reign on earth. We, too, are waiting. We’re waiting for liberation from a pandemic, waiting for peace in a violent world, waiting for many deliverances in our lives, both big and small. We are still waiting for God’s reign to come in its fullness.

In preparation for this service, you may wish to set out an Advent wreath with five candles, if you have one. If you don’t have one, you can create a set of Advent candles simply by placing four candles around a fifth candle in the centre. You can light three of the outside candles before beginning the service. These candles symbolize our waiting for the Christ child, just as ancient Israel waited for their Messiah. Each week we will light another candle, culminating in the lighting of the central Christ candle on Christmas day.

Parents with young children, you’ll note that there is an Advent colouring page available for your child. Feel free to print it off for use during the service or later.

Pre-Service Carols

The tradition continues online! Over the past several years we have “cheated” during Advent by singing a couple of Christmas carols before each Advent service. Sing along to HWB 195 It Came Upon a Midnight Clear vv. 1,3,4,5, accompanied by Dianne H. and Michael P. You can use the hymn book or follow the lyrics below.

It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to all from heaven’s gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long;
beneath the heav’nly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong,
and warring humankind hears not the tidings which they bring.
O hush the noise and ease your strife and hear the angels sing.

And you, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow:
“Look now!” for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.

For lo, the days are hast’ning on, by prophet bards foretold,
when with the ever-circling years comes ’round the age of gold,
when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

Our second pre-service Christmas carol is HWB 197 Angels We Have Heard on High, accompanied by Irene S. and Michael P. You can use the hymn book or follow the lyrics below.

Angels we have heard on high,
singing sweetly through the night,
and the mountains in reply echoing their brave delight.

Glo-ria in excelsis Deo,
glo-ria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?

What glad tidings did you hear?

Come to Bethlehem and see
him whose birth the angels sing.
Come, adore on bended knee

Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.

See him in a manger laid
whom the angels praise above.
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,

while we raise our hearts in love.

Welcome & Call to Worship

Al T. welcomes us, and then Al & Loretta T. call us to worship. Please follow along to the Call to Worship below.

Leader: We will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;

All: we will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

Leader: We declare that your steadfast love is established forever;

All: your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You are our God, and the Rock of our salvation!

Advent Candle Lighting

If you have an Advent wreath or a set of candles ready, you will want to light the final outer candle as the fourth Advent candle is lit among us in the video below. The reading this Sunday is done by Justin, Ladonna, Martin, and Britton M. Feel free to sing along to STS 15 Hope Is a Candle vv. 1,2,4,3,5, accompanied by Irene S. and Adalynne, Larissa, Matthew, and Michael P. You can use the song book or follow the lyrics below the video.

Hope is a candle, once lit by the prophets,
never consumed, though it burns through the years;
dim in the daylight of power and privilege –
when they are gone, hope will shine on.

Peace is a candle to show us a pathway,
threatened by gusts from our rage and our greed.
Friend, feel no envy for those in the shadows –
violence and force their dead-end course.

Joy is a candle of myst’ry and laughter,
myst’ry of light that is born in the dark;
laughter at hearing the voice of an angel,
ever so near, casting out fear.

Love is a candle whose light makes a circle,
where ev’ry face is the face of a friend.
Widen the circle by sharing and giving –
God’s holy dare: love everywhere.

Christ is the light that the prophets awaited,
Christ is the lion, the lamb, and the child.
Christ is the love and the myst’ry and laughter –
candles, make way! Christ is the day.

Songs of Love

Our first Advent song of love is HWB 172 O Come, O Come, Immanuel vv.1,3,5,6, accompanied by Al & Loretta T. You can use the hymn book or follow the lyrics below.

O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here,

until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Day-spring,
come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
and order all things far and nigh.
To us the path of knowledge show,

and cause us in thy ways to go.

O come, Desire of nations,
bind all peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease.

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Our second Advent song of love is HWB 178 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, accompanied by Joel & Erin K. You can use the hymn book or follow the lyrics below.

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 ev’ry nation,
joy of ev’ry longing heart.

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.

Offering

Thank you for your faithful giving even during a difficult year! Please continue this act of worship in support of the church’s ongoing ministries. You can send a cheque to the church office by mail, or you can give through an Access Credit Union branch or their online banking services (see the information here).

Community Life & Prayer

For announcements related to our church community, please see the eBulletin emailed to those on the weekly email list. You can also stay updated by checking the church Facebook page and this website.

This week in our prayers we especially remember:

  • As we head into an unusual Christmas week, may we know the hope, peace, joy, and love of God in Christ. We pray this especially for those who are feeling lonely, those who are anxious or afraid, and those who are sad or even experiencing depression. May we find ways to share this hope, peace, joy, and love with others, even within the restrictions for gathering we are under.
  • Pastor Michael as he concludes his ministry among us this week. May he experience the strength and wisdom of Christ as he transitions to his new role with Mennonite Church Manitoba.
  • Those among us facing difficult challenges, and those among us celebrating good things. May each one know the presence and peace of Christ, and may we show the empathy and compassion of Christ as we “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).
  • Us as a church on this Fourth Sunday of Advent: We “give thanks to God, for God is good, and God’s steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 136:1). This Christmas, may we “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).

Al T. leads us in a congregational prayer. With each invocation of “O Lord, Most High,” please respond with, “fill us with Mary’s wonder, hope, and trust.”

Prayer Song

Let’s continue in a spirit of prayer as we sing STJ 54 Longing for Light, accompanied by Linda P. and Michael P. You can use the songbook or follow the lyrics below.

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

Scripture Reading

We turn our attention to the reading of Scripture. Al T. reads Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 and Luke 1:26-38 for us today. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us as a church

Children’s Story

If you have young children in your household, gather them around for this lesson with our Advent friend Douglas. You might also wish to print off this Advent colouring page for your child. If they would like to share their artwork with the church, we’d love to see it. Just take a picture and send it to Pastor Michael.

Meditation

Michael P. shares a meditation for us based on our Scripture reading above.

Confession

In response to hearing God’s word to us through Scripture and its interpretation, we turn to God in humble confession. Al & Loretta T. lead us in this. Please follow along below.

Leader: God, you come to us with the words “Do not be afraid.”

All: Yet we cower and live in anxiety and fear.

Leader: We lack faith and trust in your ways.

All: We want to respond like Mary, “I am your servant.”
Give us humble, willing hearts to follow your call.

Song of Response

Let’s respond to God’s word of love by singing STS 65 Open My Eyes, accompanied by Linda P. and Michael P. You can use the songbook or follow the lyrics below.

Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see your face.
Open my eyes, Lord.

Help me to see.

Open my ears, Lord.
Help me to hear your voice.
Open my ears, Lord.

Help me to hear.

Open my heart, Lord.
Help me to love like you.
Open my heart, Lord.

Help me to love.

And the first shall be last,
and our eyes are opened
and we’ll hear like never before.

And we’ll speak in new ways,
and we’ll see God’s face

in places we’ve never known.

Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see your face.
Open my eyes, Lord.

Help me to see.

Blessing & Release for Michael

This is Michael’s last Sunday with us before he steps into his new role as Executive Minister for Mennonite Church Manitoba. We are saddened that we cannot gather together with Michael in person today. Nevertheless, we join together in Spirit to release Michael from his role as Lead Pastor among us, and to bless him as he steps into his new role in the new year. Please follow along below as Lisa B. and members of Church Council lead us in this.

Leader: We have laughed together, cried together,
worshiped together, prayed together.
We have hoped together, dreamed together,
worked together, and eaten lots of potlucks together.

All: Now it is time to say goodbye.

Leader: Parting is bittersweet.
Memories flood our minds and hearts.

All: We say goodbye with gratitude and sadness
mixed together in all sorts of strange ways.

Leader: In saying goodbye to Michael, we release him from his responsibilities as a pastor at Morden Mennonite Church. Will you join me in this release?

All: With God’s help, we release Michael from his responsibilities as our pastor.

Leader: As we release Michael from his ministry at Morden Mennonite Church,
we also want to ask God’s blessing on his future ministry.

All: We offer our support and encouragement to you, Michael,
as your ministry unfolds in new settings.
We pray God’s blessings on you and on us
as we begin in a new relationship with each other,
in which you are no longer our pastor.

Leader: Now I ask you Michael, do you release this congregation from its loyalty to you as a pastor? Do you release its members from turning to you and depending on you to provide the pastoral ministries they seek?

Michael: I do, with the help of God. I pray God’s blessing on each person here in their spiritual journey, and I pray God’s blessing on Morden Mennonite Church in its continued ministry. I pray God’s blessing on you and your future colleagues in ministry as they lead this congregation.

Leader: Let us join in prayer.

All: Eternal God, you have been our refuge and strength
through the years of our life together.
Give to us a strong sense of your presence
as we now go our separate ways.
Enlarge our faith, that we may see your purpose
unfolding in the happenings of this time.
Be our guide through all that is dark and doubtful.
Grant us peace in doing your will.
Bless and help us as we move into your future.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Adapted from Litany of Release by St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, found on http://www.commonword.ca. Permission to reproduce and distribute is granted.

Michael shares this farewell message with us.

Benediction

Al T. offers this benediction for us as we leave this time of worship together.

Sending Song

Let’s go from our worship together toward Christmas with this song on our lips and in our hearts: HWB 212 O Come, All Ye Faithful, accompanied by Dianne H. and Michael P. You can use the hymn book or follow the lyrics below

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the King of angels.

O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light of light eternal,
our lowly nature he hath not abhorred;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;
glory to God, all glory in the highest.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

In the Week Ahead

Check the church website and church Facebook page regularly for resources for staying connected and for spiritual growth during this time. Grace and peace to you this week!

Songs: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Text: Edmund H. Sears, Christian Register, 1849, alt. Music: Richard S. Willis, Church Chorals and Choir Studies, 1850); Angels We Have Heard on High (Text: Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques, 1855; tr. Anonymous, altered by Earl Marlatt, New Church Hymnal, 1937. Music: traditional French carol, Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques, 1855); Hope Is a Candle (Text: Richard Leach, 1994; copyright © 1995 Selah Publishing Co., Inc. http://www.selahpub.com. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Music: Scottish folk melody); O Come, O Come, Immanuel (Text: anonymous, ca. 6th-7th c., Veni, veni Emmanuel, 12th c.; tr. John M. Neale (Sts. 1-4), Medieval Hymns and Sequences, 1851, Henry Sloane Coffin (Sts. 5-6), Hymns of the Kingdom of God, 1916. Music: Trope melody, 15th c.); Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (Text: Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord, 1744. Music: Rowland H. Prichard, ca. 1830, Cyfaill y Cantorion, 1844; arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams, The English Hymnal, 1906, adapted 1951, BBC Hymn Book. Arrangement copyright © Oxford University Press, London.); Open My Eyes (Text: Jesse Manibusan, based on Mark 8:22-25 and Psalm 51:12-14. Copyright © 1988, 1998, 2001 Jesse Manibusan and Rufino Zaragoza, OFM. Published by OCP. All rights reserved. Music: Jesse Manibusan. Copyright © 1988, 1998, 1999 Jesse Manibusan. Published by OCP. All rights reserved.); Longing for Light (Text: Bernadette Farrell; Music: Bernadette Farrell ©1993 Bernadette Farrell, OCP Publications); O Come, All Ye Faithful (Text: John F. Wade, ca. 1743, Adeste fideles laeti triumphantes, Office de St. Omer (Sts. 1,3-4), 1822, Etienne J. F. Borderies (St. 2), 1822; tr. Frederick Oakeley and others (Sts. 1,3-4), 1841, alt., William Mercer (St.2), 1854. Music: attributed to John F. Wade, ca. 1743, Essay on the Church Plain Chant, 1782.)
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