Worship Elements: December 20, 2015

November 15th, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

COLOR: Purple or Blue
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:46b-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45


When we join with Mary in singing the Magnificat, we’re not just singing another carol to pass the time till Christmas arrives—we’re celebrating the impending arrival of the one who turns the world upside down! From the tiny hamlet of Bethlehem comes the greatest gift ever. From the barren womb of Elizabeth comes the radical prophet and baptizer. From the mouth of a young, unmarried girl comes words of unswerving commitment, and a song of praise for the fulfillment of God’s promises. For a church that has been lulled into complacency by too many warm, familiar Christmas rituals, these Advent readings offer shocking witness that the kingdom of God is indeed at hand.


Call to Worship (Micah 5, Luke 1)

God has done great things for us!
God’s love is heralded in the promise of Christ.
Holy is God’s name!
God’s promises are fulfilled in the coming of Christ.
God’s mercy extends from generation to generation.
God’s salvation is offered in the gift of Christ.

Opening Prayer (Micah 5, Luke 1)

Holy God,
your prophet Micah foretold with faith
that a new ruler would come forth from Bethlehem—
today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise;
your daughter Elizabeth proclaimed with faith
that her cousin was to be the mother of her Lord—
today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise;
your servant Mary proclaimed with faith
that she would be called blessed by all generations—
today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise.
Make us bold enough to proclaim with faith—
the coming of your kingdom,
the coming of your justice,
the coming of your peace.
May we sing out the good news of your salvation,
trusting in fulfillment of your promises.
All this we pray in the name of the one who comes.


Prayer of Confession (Micah 5, Luke 1)

Loving God,
even in the midst of this season of goodwill,
there is much to confess.
In spite of holiday cheer,
stress and anxiety rule our lives.
We miss the reason for the season,
focusing instead on Christmas parties, long to-do lists,
and trying to get the shopping done.
We fail to think about your reordered world—
a world where the lowly are lifted up
and the hungry are filled with good things.
Help us adjust our Christmas priorities,
that we might join with you, O God,
in preparing a world that welcomes
the one who brings us peace.
(Prayer continues in silence.)

Words of Assurance

The ancient promises of God are fulfilled.
God does not forget us.
God’s mercy extends from generation to generation.
Let our souls rejoice in God!

Invitation to the Word

(This short dialogue for two women is followed by a congregational
response. The response could be repeated at the conclusion
of the sermon. The dialogue may be presented either before
or after the gospel reading.)
(Mary knocks.)

Elizabeth: Mary!
Mary: Hello, Elizabeth. I greet you in the name of God.
Elizabeth: Mary, I greet you in the name of the One who is my Lord, the One you carry in your womb.
Mary: How could you know this?
Elizabeth: The Holy Spirit has shown me that God’s promises have been fulfilled through you. Your faith has enabled God to work through you to bring about the peace we have longed for.
Mary: The Spirit has shown you the truth. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, for God has chosen me to help birth those dreams we all have for justice and peace.
People: Holy Spirit, come and fill us with faith so that we, too, might work with God to bring about the coming of the One who brings us peace.


Invitation to the Offering

In response to the news that she would bear God’s Son, Mary offered herself as God’s servant, and then sang a song celebrating her selection to help bring God’s realm on earth. We have been chosen to continue to build up the kingdom of God, so we, too, have reason to celebrate. Having praised God through song and scripture, let us now offer our tangible signs of gratitude, confident that God’s promises will be fulfilled through the ministries supported by our gifts.

Offering Prayer

Dear God,
you blessed Mary
by making her the mother of your only Son,
Jesus Christ.
You have blessed us, as well,
with the gift of your Son,
and indeed, with the gift of life itself.
Out of all these blessings,
we give you back these offerings this day.
Knowing that your promises will be fulfilled,
we pledge our lives to you
in anticipation of the coming of the one
who brings us peace. Amen.



As we head into the final days before Christmas,
may we leave this place secure in the knowledge
that God’s promises will be fulfilled.
December 25 is just five days away,
but the gift that God gives us
will not wear out or fade away.


Go with the love of God,
who extends mercy from generation to generation.
Go with the illumination of the Holy Spirit,
who prepares us for the coming of our Lord.
Go with the peace of the Christ child,
who comes to partner with us
to bring the kingdom that will never end. Amen.


Contemporary Gathering Words

Blessed is tiny Bethlehem, from which shall come the ruler of Israel.
Blessed is Mary, who believed in the fulfillment of God’s word.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Blessed is God, who gives us the gift of peace.

Praise Sentences (Luke 1:46b-55 Message)

Mary said, “I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. . . .
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
The God whose very name is holy,
set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave.”
Let us all join with Mary,
in dancing the song of our Savior God!

From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2008 by Abingdon Press. “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2016” is now available.

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