Worship Elements: December 22, 2019

November 7th, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Color: Blue or Purple
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

Theme Ideas

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the prophet foretell of Emmanuel, we see Joseph's dream of Emmanuel, we hear the psalmist's longing for a savior, and we hear Paul's affirmation of a savior. On this Sunday before Christmas, we speak of God with us—in yearning, in promise, in certainty. It is an "almost ... not yet ...ah, it's here" time. Can we be open to the surprise of wonder a child of promise brings us this year?

Call to Worship (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

We have been looking for a sign.
Emmanuel—God with us.
We have been waiting for a savior.
Emmanuel—God with us.
The time is near—can it be?
Emmanuel—God with us.
Come let us worship the God of sign,
wonder, and promise.

Call to Worship (Isaiah 7, Psalm 80, Romans 1, Matthew 1)

The prophet foretold it, the psalmist longed for it,
Joseph dreamed of it, Paul proclaimed it.
God is come to us, to be with us, to restore us, to save us.
Let us come in awe and wonder,
to worship the God who makes it all so.

Contemporary Gathering Words

Christmas is a time of anticipation.
We can hardly wait.
Christmas is a time of giving.
We are ready to receive.
Christmas is a time of hope and promise.
We are looking for it.
Could it be? Is it here? Let us come and see;
Let us open ourselves to the wonder of it all.

Praise Sentences (Isaiah 7, Psalm 80, Matthew 1)

Stir up your might, O God,
and come to save us!
Emmanuel—God with us.
Restore us, O God.
Let your face shine,
that we may be saved.
Emmanuel—God with us.

Opening Prayer (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

O God,
in this time of worship,
may we be open to your promises, your love,
and your transformation.
May we vision and dream.
May we be surprised.
May we receive the life you give us.
May we encounter Emmanuel—God with us.
And may we never be the same. Amen.

Opening Prayer (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

We come this morning,
tired from rushing around,
tired of trying to meet
the demands and expectations
of the season.
Slow us down.
Help us center our thoughts.
Restore in us a childlike wonder,
and a belief that dreams
really do come true.
We call on your name.
Be with us and in us, Emmanuel.

Prayer of Confession

O God,
we are easily distracted and slightly jaded,
and cannot believe Christ is almost here.
There are still presents to be bought—
never mind wrapped.
There are parties to attend, cookies to be baked,
trees to be trimmed.
Sometimes we cannot wait
until all this hubbub is over.
Where is the time to sit, to sleep—
never mind to dream?
We can get so caught up in the busyness of the season
that we miss the gift the season is meant to be.
We have heard the scriptures and stories so often
that they have become white noise.
For our frenetic pace, for our exhaustion,
for our tunnel vision, for our missing the wonder
and awe of a baby born to fulfill promises
made long ago, forgive us.
Restore to us the sense of surprise
that you came to us as a little baby,
unexpected, yet longed for.
God of the visioners and dreamers,
may we always be ready
to receive your gifts. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

God comes to us in dreams and visions,
in prophecies and affirmations,
in longing and in hope,
in salvation through a little child.
Claim this promise for yourself,
and let God's healing love fill you.

Benediction (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

Look, a young woman is with child and shall bear a son.
He shall be called Emmanuel.
We go forth with anticipation and longing.
Share the good news—Emmanuel—God with us,
is coming.
We go with joy and hope, trusting in the promises
of God.

Benediction (Isaiah 7, Matthew 1)

Go forth with a dream in your soul
and a song in your heart,
knowing that God's promises
are always fulfilled.
The time is almost here.
Get ready for wonder!

From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. 

About the Author

Joanne Carlson Brown

Rev. Dr. Joanne Carlson Brown is pastor at Tibbetts United Methodist Church in West Seattle. She earned an M.Div read more…
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