Worship Guide - Fourth Sunday of Advent

Worship Guide

December 24, 2023

Fourth Sunday of Advent


Creating Disciples of Jesus who Transform the World






Minister: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People: And also with you!


Lighting the Advent Candle: Love


Reader 1: When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, announcing God’s plan for her to conceive and give birth to the Messiah, “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin!’” (Luke 1:34) And yet, only a few months later, Mary sings to Elizabeth,

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)


Reader 2: We, like Mary, hear God’s call to be part of making God’s dream for our salvation and flourishing a reality, and we question, “How can this be? I am only…” Yet, like Mary, the “Onlys” that make us hesitate are gifts God can and will use as God’s love transforms us into bearers of good news.


People:   We wait as people who have encountered divine Love that disrupts the status quo and ushers us into abundant life marked by mutual love and peace that flow from flourishing of all people.


Reader 1: We light these candles as signs of our shocking hope, our just peace, our fierce joy, and the love that transforms us. May Love grow within us, transforming us into bold witnesses of God’s salvation with our voices and our lives. Amen


Reader 2: We remind ourselves that this year one candle remains unlit, as the Christmas lights in Bethlehem remain unlit, in memory of those killed in the current conflict in the Holy Land.


Special Music: “Here With Us” Stefanie


Centering Words:

Glorify God this day. Magnify the Lord with all your heart. Sing praises to God who reigns above. Glorify the Lord with gladness.


*Call to Worship:


Leader:    Relatives conceive-one a barren woman, the other a young girl who has not been with a man.

People:   How can this be?

Leader:    With god, all things are possible.

People:   Our hearts beat with laughter. Our lips sing of God’s glory.

Leader:    Let us magnify the Lord as we worship God this day. Let us pray.


ALL: Come to us, Promised One, in this season of waiting. Set our hearts ablaze with the glory of your salvation. Set our minds afire with the richness of your word. Reveal to us the secret of your ways; for you alone are wise, you alone are worthy of our thanks and praise. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray.  Amen.


Hymn: Away in the Manger”


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,

the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.


The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,

but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes;

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky

and stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.


Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay

close by me forever, and love me, I pray;

bless all the dear children in thy tender care,

and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.




Words of Assurance


The secret that was kept quiet for so long has been revealed in Christ.

All are loved and all will be saved by the searching love of our Lord and savior.

Thanks be to God. Amen


*Old Testament Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16


1 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”


4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.


16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.


Leader:    This is the Word of God for the people of God

People:   Thanks be to God.




Time with Young Friends: “Jesus Loves Me


Children’s Message: “Who is Important”


Hymn: “Love Has Come”


Love has come, a light in the darkness!

Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies.

See, all heaven has come to proclaim it;

hear how their song of joy arises:

Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!

Love! Love! Glory to God on high!


Love is born! Come share in the wonder.

Love is God now asleep in the hay.

See the glow in the eyes of his mother.

what is the name her heart is saying?

Love! Love! Love is the name she whispers.

Love! Love! Jesus, Immanuel.


Love has come and never will leave us!

Love is life everlasting and free.

Love is Jesus within and among us.

Love is the peace our hearts are seeking.

Love! Love! Love is the gift of Christmas.

Love! Love! Praise to you, God on high!


Sermon: “Love that Transforms Us” Luke 1:26-38


26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.


 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.




Hymn: “On Christmas Night”


On Christmas night all Christians sing

to hear the news the angels bring.

On Christmas night all Christians sing

to hear the news the angels bring:

news of great joy, news of great mirth,

news of our merciful King's birth.


Then why should men on earth be so sad

since our Redeemer made us glad.

Then why should men on earth be so sad,

since our Redeemer made us glad;

when from our sin he set us free,

all for to gain our liberty?


When sin departs before his grace,

then life and health come in its place.

When sin departs before his grace,

then life and health come in its place;

angels and men with joy may sing,

all for to see the newborn King.


All out of darkness we have light,

which made the angels sing this night.

All out of darkness we have light,

which made the angels sing this night:

"Glory to God, on earth be peace,

goodwill to all shall never cease."


Psalter: Canticle of Mary


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, who has looked with favor on me, a lowly servant.

From this day all generations shall call me blessed:

The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is the name of the Lord, whose mercy is on those who fear God for generation to generation.

The arm of the Lord is strong, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

God has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.

God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich empty away.

God has come to the aid of Israel, the chosen servant, remembering the promise of mercy, the promise made to our forebears, to Abraham and his children for ever.


Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

praise him, all creatures here below;

praise him above, ye heavenly host;

praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.



Prayers of the People: Joys and concerns

   Silent Prayer, Pastoral Prayer




Hymn: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”


Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King;

peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled.”

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

join the triumph of the skies,

with th’angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”


Christ, by highest heaven adored;

Christ, the everlasting Lord;

late in time behold him come,

offspring of a virgin's womb.

Veiled in flesh the God-head see,

hail th'incarnate Deity,

pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”


Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,

born that we no more may die,

born to raise us from the earth,

born to give us second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”