Prelude: played by Dr. Martha Folts
Welcome and Brief Announcements
Liturgy written by Rev. M Barclay & Sanctified Arts LLC
O God, we are poised, anticipating the coming of this child—The Christ Child. Like a dancer waiting to make the next movement, we center ourselves in attention.
We extend our arms to the heavens, reaching out toward your light in the darkness. We turn all around us and see our neighbors, their faces shining with your joy. We open our hands to the world, ready to receive you wherever you are to be found —among those like the shepherds--poor, curious, hopeful—all who show up to see the Christ Child, with their need and their dreams. Interrupt us with this simple birth, let us know that in Jesus Christ you have shown up in our world. Let us pay open-hearted attention to the signs of your presence. Let us rest in the love you so abundantly give us, that we may celebrate Christ’s birth and meet the challenge of God-with-us in our world. Amen.
Lighting of the Advent Wreath-The Christ Candle
In the beginning, God dreamed of a beautiful world.
In Egypt, the Israelites dreamed of freedom.
In the wilderness, the people dreamed of safety.
In Jerusalem, the people dreamed of a Messiah.
In Bethlehem, the shepherds and Wise Men dreamed of a new beginning.
Then, several years later, Jesus walked this earth and dreams came true.
The sick were healed.
The poor had food.
The forgotten and ignored were seen.
The children were welcomed.
Everyone was invited to the table, and the world has never been the same.
So tonight, we are those who dream.
Tonight, we dream the same dreams of our ancestors before us.
Tonight, we dream of justice and mercy, of love and kindness, of peace and hope.
Tonight we dream of a God that draws near to us out of unfailing love.
May this candle be a reminder that there will be a day when every dream will be fulfilled. And until then, we will be those who dream. Let us worship Holy God.
Call to Worship
In holy wonder, with divine expectation, we echo the mother of God reciting her poetry of freedom:
God’s mercy extends from generation to generation.
God scatters the proud and lifts high the humble.
God’s promises to the hungry, the captive, and the weary will be fulfilled.
A testimony to persistent hope, we join the whole world in waiting.
Our spirits rejoice! The time is nearly here
Hymn: “Come All Ye Faithful” played by Dr. Martha Folts
Prayer of Confession
God of Good News, you say to us, “You are highly favored,” but we struggle to see how that could be. You say to us, “Do not be afraid,” but we are afraid all the time. You say to us, “Even the impossible is possible, just look at Elizabeth!” But hope slips through our hands like water. The impossible still feels impossible.
So today we pray: teach us to sing like Mary. Teach us to laugh like Elizabeth. Teach us to trust like the angels. Forgive us when we can only do one at a time, or none at all. Amen
Invitation to Silence
Words of Assurance
Our God, who has been with the people since the beginning, is with us now, offering grace that is more than we can ask or imagine. God’s love frees us from the past, and helps us move forward into a new future.
Let us thank God-with-Us, Emmanuel, for faithful love. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen, Amen.
Sermon: “Mystery of the Possible” by Rev. Eric Stricklin
Prayer Concerns, Pastoral Prayer, 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, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Closing Hymn “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” played by Dr. Martha Folts
Let us now go forth into the world in peace, being of good courage, holding fast to that which is good, rendering unto no one evil for evil, strengthening the faint hearted, supporting the weak, helping the afflicted, serving all people, loving and serving God, and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Postlude "In Dulci Jubilo" J.S. Bach , played by Dr. Martha Folts