Bulletin – December 12, 2021 – Advent 3

Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman

GATHERING MUSIC: “A Candle is Burning”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/161WaNcoKcqUtXxT9j4q8phdnN3giIA82/view

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS

Welcome everyone to this advent service celebrating Joy this Sunday at Dunsford United Church. You may notice that the service looks a little different this Sunday. Today we are singing a story as we let God lead us through the difficult times to moments of joy. So let us begin.

LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES 

Lisa: Joy can be elusive.

All:    In shadowed times, it is difficult for us to find joy.

Lisa: The night may feel like it is closing in on us on these shortest days of the year.

All:    Yet, we believe that joy is possible. We believe that light will return.

Lisa: Joy is a gift from God to us

All:    May we find the strength to embrace this gift. 

Lisa: May we let God lead us through the tears to the places and people of joy.

All:    May joy be found in a manger and throughout the world.

HYMN: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (Advent Unwrapped)

O come and be the hope in all our lives

Though chaos and confusion still survive

We know the path of hate all too well

We need our God with us, Emmanuel!

Rejoice, rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to us

And all things shall be well

O come and bring your peace upon the earth

That even now still longs for its rebirth

We seek to live and move in your ways

Guide us to peace and justice all our days

Rejoice, rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to us

And all things shall be well

O come to us like joy of heaven’s dawn,

From Mary’s womb a faithful paragon

Brought forth into this world by love’s power

Your Spirit through her labors in that hour

Rejoice, rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to us

And all things shall be well

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE LANDS

We acknowledge, honour and respect this land and the Anishnabeg/Mississauga peoples with whom Treaty 20, Williams treaty, was signed, on the lands where I am, and we acknowledge also and give thanks for the lands and people of treaties and unceded territories of all who are worshiping. It is up to all of us to live into truth, respect and reconciliation with all our relations.

CALL TO WORSHIP

Lisa: Three of the four candles are burning.

All:      They glow in welcome as we wait for the birth of Christ.

Lisa: Can you feel the hope, the peace, the joy? Breathe in and welcome the Breath of Hope, the Breath of Peace and the Breath of Joy into your body.

All: (Inhale)

Amen

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “One King” Solo by Christena-Lynn Erglis

OPENING PRAYER (unison)

God of all wisdom,

Our hearts yearn for the warmth of your love,

And our minds search for the light of our Word.

Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour,

And strengthen us to grow in love,

That at the dawn of his coming

We may rejoice in his presence

And welcome the light of his truth.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Amen.

OFFERING

While we can’t take up the offering the usual way, we do appreciate the generosity you show us. Whether by PAR or other methods the support is real and meaningful. Envelopes may be left in the offering plate on the table as you leave the Sanctuary.

OFFERTORY PRAYER: VU #55 “In the Bleak Midwinter” vs. 4

What can I give him, poor as I am?  If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wiseman, I would do my part; Yet what can I give him – give my heart.

FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART (Children are to remain in their seats)

Body Prayer for Joy

MESSAGE

Retelling of the First Nativity with Christmas Hymns

The Living Nativity by David and Helen Haidle

Retold by Lisa Norman- December 2021

St Francis of Assisi is one of the most beloved and well known saints. Many of us recognize him as the patron saint of animals but did you know that he is also the man who created the first living nativity? Let me tell you a story.

Antonio limped up the dusty road leading out of the village. Tears smudged his dirty face while his eyes frantically scanned the hillside. “Benito! Benito!” he called as he stopped to rub his foot that was throbbing painfully after all of his searching. 

Suddenly a friendly voice replied, “The Lord be with you.” The boy quickly wiped the tears from his eyes and before him saw a stranger dressed in a plain robe. 

“What brings you out here at night?” asked the man.

“I lost my master’s donkey.” confessed Antonio.

The man wearing the monk’s robe chuckled, “I think I found him.”

And there beside this stranger was Benito. The man introduced himself as Brother Francis. He had found Benito nibbling along the side of the path. He then offered to walk Benito and Antonio back to the stable.

Walking down the road, Antonio caught the scent of smoke from a shepherd’s fire in the nearby pasture. Brother Francis abruptly stopped. 

“Ohh! This looks like Bethlehem that first Christmas Eve. Imagine how the shepherds felt when the angel appeared and told them, “Fear not! For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And imagine hearing thousands of angels praise God!”

HYMN: VU #38 “Angels We Have Heard on High” (Lisa will accompany)

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing o’er the plains

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their joyous strains

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly, sweetly through the night

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their brief delight

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Shepherds, why this jubilee?

Why your joyous strains prolong?

What the gladsome tidings be

Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see

Him whose birth the angels sing,

Come, adore on bended knee,

Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Yeah

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Angels we have heard

Angels we have heard on high

Angels we have heard, oh

Angels we have heard on high

Angels we have heard on high

Angels we have heard on high

In excelsis Deo

Brother Francis put his arm around Antonio’s shoulder and explained that God sent His Son to become one of us and asked if Antonio understood what that meant. Antonio shook his head.

Brother Francis smiled and said, “You will. I’m coming to your village of Greccio to celebrate Christmas Eve. It’s the holiest night of the year.”

They continued their journey towards the stable, Brother Francis singing songs of praise along the way. When they arrived, Brother Francis helped Antonio care for the scratches Benito had received on his adventure and gently spoke and looked into the eyes of every creature in the barn. 

He then reassured Antonio. “Now don’t worry. God loves you and the donkey.”

Once more Benito shook his head. “If God really loved me, my father would still be alive and I wouldn’t be lame.”

“God does love you,” Brother Francis repeated tenderly, “even when everything seems hopeless. That is the message of Christmas.”

HYMN: VU #55 “In the Bleak Midwinter” vs. 1-2

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zvq5g6laBE44MkfiPejg1T3kx7AcAstn/view

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain,

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty —

Jesus Christ.

Antonio settled down in the straw beside Benito and fell asleep. The next morning Brother Francis returned and gently examined the donkey. 

“Benito, you are just what I need. And I need you too Antonio” 

Antonio shrugged his shoulders “For what?”

“I need you to help me prepare a surprise for the villagers. Can you build me a manger?”

Later that day Antonio found some scraps of wood and started to construct a manger. When Antonio finished the evening chores, he limped to the room behind the stable where he and his mother lived. “Why does Brother Francis want a manger?” he wondered as he fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next morning Brother Francis appeared again and took Antonio to the village square. 

Turning to Antonio, he said, “Help me. Invite everyone to come to the hillside cave at midnight. We will have a wonderful celebration.”

Antonio knew the villagers felt discouraged by the recent drought and failed crops. His knees felt weak as he knocked on the first door. But the more he talked with people, the easier it became. 

HYMN: VU #60 “O Come All Ye Faithful”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15iR2ioTzXsXd1j-ExnAyRX5yeJmaS3UC/view

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!

God of God, Light of Light

Lo, He abhors not the Virgin’s womb

Very God

Begotten, not created

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

Christ the Lord!

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation

Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!

Glory to God

All glory in the highest

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

Christ the Lord!

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning

Jesus, to Thee be glory given

Word of the Father

Now in flesh appearing

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

O come, let us adore Him

Christ the Lord!

That afternoon, Antonio loaded hay along with his manger into a cart and headed up the hill with Brother Francis. A cold wind whipped his clothes as he thought, “I hope my manger holds together?” Out loud he asked Brother Francis, “Why do you need my manger? Are there animals up here?”

Brother Francis turned to look gently at the boy with his cart. “I have a plan. Just make sure you put a flat rock under the manger’s short leg to steady it”

Friends of Brother Francis greeted Antonio when he entered the warm cave. He looked around and was surprised to see an ox and Benito! “So that’s what the manger is for.” he thought.

“The stable master let us use them,” explained Brother Francis. “He said you could return them later. God answered our prayers- Benito’s scratches are healing nicely. He will be fine.”

Precisely at midnight the glimmer of torches could been seen ascending the hill. Antonio’s mother was near the front and she rushed to him declaring that his aunt and uncle had arrived with their new baby. It was a joyful moment when Antonio met his new cousin. 

Brother Francis greeted the couple and said, “God sent you as an answer to my prayers. Could you help me tell the Christmas story? And could we put your baby in Antonio’s manger?”

“Yes” they nodded.

A hush fell over the crowd. The two young parents’ faces glowed in the flickering firelight.  Tiny hands stretched up from the hay. It looked like the Nativity at Bethlehem! Brother Francis began to read: “And it came to pass in those days…. She brought forth her firstborn Son, wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

HYMN: VU #69 “Away in a Manger”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xEn1J2RAocREBCZR_idxHJlDXAqgRmpO/view

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the bright 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 bedside till morning is nigh.

Be near me, lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay

Close by me for ever and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,

And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Brother Francis picked up the baby and said, “The Christ Child of Christmas was born to bring God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life to all people. Jesus set aside His glory in Heaven to become one of us- a baby. He became poor so we could have the riches of God’s love. His first home was a barn; His first bed, a manger.”

“Ohh!” Antonio whispered to himself. “Baby Jesus slept in a stable too!”

Brother Francis held the baby close and continued, “Do you wonder where Jesus is when times are hard? He is here. He understands and knows how we feel. And Jesus promised He would never leave us.”

After many songs of praise had been sung and as light slowly crept over the hill, the villagers started the descent back to their homes, but with a lightness in their step that wasn’t there before. 

Brother Francis turned to Antonio. “Thank you, young friend, for your part in tonight’s celebration. I hope you will continue to help my brothers set up a Christmas Nativity every year.”

Antonio promised to do just that and even suggested asking some shepherds to come and bring some sheep and perhaps they could ask someone to portray an angel.

And that my friends is how the living nativity tradition started. The visual retelling of Christ’s humble birth that continues to bring hope, peace, joy and love to us all. 

Amen

HYMN: VU #44 “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/12qpaT3I8StCxOMrE8AdH8QhXvXdBrvug/view

It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth,

To touch their harps of gold:

“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,

From heaven’s all-gracious King.”

The world in solemn stillness lay,

To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,

With peaceful wings unfurled,

And still their heavenly music floats

O’er all the weary world;

Above its sad and lowly plains,

They bend on hovering wing,

And ever o’er its babel sounds

The blessed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not

The love-song which they bring;

O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

And hear the angels sing.

For lo!, the days are hastening 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 give back the song

Which now the angels sing.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Mary Did You Know” Solo by Sylvia Van Belle

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

We now bring the prayers of our hearts before you, 

Our God of Joy.

Every day we hear of sadness in our world. 

Help us to see the joy that is here too. 

So many are crying Lord.

Help them to sing songs of joy.

So many are lonely Lord.

Help them find their choir.

So many have been silenced Lord.

Set their voices free.

(Time of silent prayer)

Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we pray to you, our Holy Creator, Mother and Father.

THE LORD’S PRAYER (unison)

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

Philippians 4: 4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “He” Solo by Sylvia Van Belle

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE

https://drive.google.com/file/d/161WaNcoKcqUtXxT9j4q8phdnN3giIA82/view

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5

Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca


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