Bulletin – December 19, 2021 – Advent 4

Dunsford United Church

Rev. Anne Hepburn

Sacrament of Holy Communion

GATHERING MUSIC: VU #16 “Mary, Woman of the Promise” (instrumental)

WELCOME AND CELEBRATIONS 

ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING -Video “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.

O come you source of Love unto us all

Enlighten us and help us hear your call

To bear your Love out into the wild

And celebrate God’s wondrous holy Child!

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

Grace to you and peace from God.

As advent people we give thanks to the One who is faithful.

Let us proclaim the wonder of God who came is coming and will always come.

In word, action and with gentleness of spirit we celebrate the advent of our God.

HYMN: VU #7 “Hope is a Star” (Words: Brian Wren)

Hope is a star that shines in the night, leading us on till the morning is bright.

Refrain:  When God is a child there’s joy in our song.

The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong, and none shall be afraid.

Peace is a ribbon that circles the earth, giving a promise of safety and worth. R

Joy is a song that welcomes the dawn, telling the world that the Saviour is born.

Love is a flame that burns in our heart. Jesus has come and will never depart. R

OPENING PRAYER

God of wonder and awe, we wait in eager anticipation for the arrival of our newborn king.

Fan the flames of the fire within our hearts that we will remain steadfast in our hope in you.

Our hearts are longing for what only you can satisfy. 

Let us experience O God the glory of your appearing. 

Come quickly Lord.  Amen 

Written by Lynn McCaw, Gatherings 2021 p. 32. Used with permission.

OFFERING

While we can’t take up the offering as we used to, we very much appreciate your generosity.

Let us pray.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Gracious God,

On this fourth Sunday in Advent we are thinking of Love and the gift of the baby child Jesus soon to be born.  May we hear the song of Mary as she glorifies God for the gift of her infant. And as we do so may we consider the gifts we have given and received. Amen  

OFFERTORY HYMN: VU #6 “A Candle is Burning” verse 4 (Words: Sandra Dean)

A candle is burning, a candle of love, a candle to point us to heaven above.

A baby for Christmas, a wonderful birth, for Jesus is bringing God’s love to our earth.

FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART

HYMN: VU #64 “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Words: Phillips Brooks)

O little town of  Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;

yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary; and gathered all above,

while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,

and praises sing to God the King, and peace to all on earth.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts the blessed gift of heaven.

No ear may hear his coming; but in this world of sin,

where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels   the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Micah 5:2a-5a Out of Bethlehem in Judea will come a leader.

2 [a] But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
    who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

MINISTRY OF MUSIC: “Away in a Manger” Solo by Brian Gowan

New Testament Luke 1:47-55 The Magnificat – Mary sings my soul gives glory to God.

47     my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

HYMN: VU #59 “Joy To the World” (Words: Isaac Watts)

Joy to the world! the Lord is come: let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns: let all their songs employ,

while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground:

he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found,

 far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the earth with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove

the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love,

and wonders of his love, and wonders, wonders of his love.

MESSAGE: Monologue – Joseph’s confession

With Deep Regret: A Letter to Mary

Dear Mary,

I intended to address this letter to “My Dearest, Beloved Mary,” but feared that at this point you would welcome only the barest of salutations from me. Maybe you have already torn these words and the papyrus upon which they are written into a thousand shreds and scattered them with the excrement that flows in the gutter. Who would blame you? I have been a fool. Worse than that, I have been an arrogant fool.

I have much more to write about you and me…but first I want to convey my deep relief and joy at the news that you are well and there with your cousin, Elizabeth, and her fine husband, the priest, Zechariah. The morning after you left, your father came to my house in a rage. He demanded to know where you were and what I had done with you. You won’t believe this, but he even broke my nose with a wooden bowl. Each time I touch it, I feel its thick pain. It makes me think of you. I’m glad he broke it!

Your mother came next, screaming like an eagle. Your father and I were rolling around in the red dust like a couple of synagogue boys. She grabbed your father by the ear, pointed an ominous finger at me, and ordered us inside the house. Quite a crowd had gathered. I’m sure that before I wiped the blood off my face, Mrs. Zebedee’s tongue had gone wagging like a dog’s tail around the village telling everyone what had happened.

Your mother told me that when they woke up that morning you were gone from your mat. I said that you had probably gone to the hills for the day. After all, since you were a little girl, that is exactly where you went whenever you were angry—to watch the spiders, you’d say. But my heart began to sink as I sensed that this was different. They said you were crying when you got home the night before and demanded to know what we had talked about.

I told them I had called off our wedding—and why. I was so shocked and hurt when you told me that you were pregnant, Mary. My heart turned to ice. And I felt insulted when you said that you believed that it was God’s will that this child, who is not mine, would change the world, liberate the people, care for the poor. It was as if you, an ignorant peasant girl, (I know this isn’t true but that’s what I was thinking) were calling me, a man, a religious elder, and your husband-to-be, a fool. My pride opened my mouth. I even convinced myself that I was doing the noble thing. Quietly calling off our engagement seemed to be the kind thing, the honorable thing. After all, everyone knows that I do “the right thing” to a fault. I would face the ridicule from the likes of Mrs. Zebedee, even from my own friends, but they would also say, “Isn’t he kind when he could have had her stoned to death?”

I was there when they stoned Deborah, Jacob’s wife. I still have nightmares. It was there, when Deborah was stoned, that I first realized that you were special among women and girls, and that I loved you. How old were you, 10 or 11 years? You must have sneaked out of the house—a pattern for you it seems. By the time your mother arrived at the stoning, you were screaming and tearing at the robes of the elders who were throwing the rocks. I was hoping that your mother would drag you away before…well, before Deborah died. So, I felt noble and honorable, sparing myself that horror.

I am glad your parents came. They told me of their shame too. They told me what they had always said to you about girls who got pregnant before they were married. People say things like that, Mary. They don’t really mean it. Not about people they love. Your father sobbed. “Cast the first stone? How could I say such a thing to my little girl?” Those are his exact words.

I was 12 years old when you were born and I watched you grow up. When your father and I agreed that you would be my wife, it was the happiest day of my life. I know—and you were right to say it—we men treat women like cows or donkeys, the way we wheel and deal over you. But, I don’t mean I felt happy in the same way I would be if I had made a good bargain with an animal. I mean I felt the deep joy of the completion of something I had always dreamed would come to pass. You helped me understand what the Torah means when it says that God saw the first human’s loneliness and said, “It is not right that this one should be alone,” and from a rib fashioned the one who would complete him. You, Mary, complete me.

So, when you told me that you were pregnant, I felt as though my whole life, my dream, everything had been ripped from my hands in an instant. I was angry. I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand completely, but I’m willing to try.

You see, the truth is that I really am the sort of man who does the right thing, not because of what the neighbours will say, but because that’s how I am. When one of my customers overpays me, even a coin or two, I return it. If I find something that doesn’t belong to me, I could no more keep it than turn water into wine. That’s just how I am. I think that it is doing the little things right that leads us to God. It’s like practice for when the big thing comes along.

The big thing, Mary, is to step through whatever gate God opens to us. You and this child are the Creator’s gate for me. What else could account for this love that feels like drunkenness, but which helps me see the world more clearly, more beautifully, than ever before? Our love, this child, will lead us to both joy and suffering. Love always does. To deny that love, however, would lead to emptiness and to death.

Mary, please come home! Give my regards to Elizabeth and to Zechariah and wish them well with their own surprising birth, but please come home. Already I am under pressure to leave for Bethlehem in order to fulfill my census obligations. I would very much like to make that journey, and all journeys from now on, with you. Together we will find the way.

With all my love, Joseph.

COMMUNION

May God be with us.

God is here among us.

Let us open our hearts to God.

We open them to God and to one another.

Let us give thanks to God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We thank you God, creator of us all;

From the beginning you made the world and all its creatures.

You made people to live for you and for one another.

We praise you O God.

We praise you O God.

You created Adam and Eve and gave them a garden;

You showed Noah a rainbow;

You gave Moses strength to free your people.

And taught Miriam to sing;

You gave courage to Esther and loyalty to Ruth;

You gave David a harp to sing your praise,

And helped him defeat a giant.

We praise you O God.

We praise you O God. 

Yet even they turned away from you and forgot about you as we do too.

But you did not forget.

You sent Jesus to world to show us how much you love her and to bring us back to you again.

We praise you O God.

We praise you O God.

He came as one of us first as an infant then a child.

Later a youth and then an adult.

He rejoiced with those who rejoiced and wept with those who wept.

To the despairing he spoke a word of hope

To the sick he gave healing

To the hurting he was a friend.

Still people turned away from you

They betrayed Jesus and nailed him to a cross.

But he was lifted from the grave and restored to life, that he might be with us and we with him,

Alive for evermore!

Therefore with all the saints of every time and place

We join the angels in their praise.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. 

Hosanna in the highest.

We gather at this table to remember that on the night before he died, Jesus ate with his friends,

He took a loaf of bread and after blessing it, he broke it and gave it to them saying 

“Take, eat. This is my body given for you.

Each time you do this, remember me.”

That same night Jesus also took a cup and after giving thanks passed it to his friends saying”

“Drink. This cup poured out for you is the promise of God.

Whenever you drink it, remember me”

We remember Jesus’ death and celebrate his resurrection;

We await with hope his coming again to bring peace and justice to the earth;

And we proclaim the mystery of our faith.

Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again.

Send O God, your holy spirit upon us and what we do here, 

That we and these gifts touched by your spirit 

May be signs of life and love to one another

And to the world.

Through Christ with Christ and in Christ,

In the unity of the holy spirit

All glory is yours God most holy now and forever.

Amen

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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen

COMMISSIONING AND BLESSING

Go out to the world as Christ would have you to serve others with renewed appreciation for his wisdom and example. And as you go may the love of God be with you always.

CHORAL RESPONSE: “Go Now in Peace” (Words: Don Besig and Nancy Price)

Go now in peace, never be afraid.  God will go with you each hour of every day.

Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true. Know He will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love and show you believe. Reach out to others so all the world can see

God will be there watching from above. Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

Amen, Amen, Amen

POSTLUDE

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5

Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca


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