December 12, 2021

Organ PreludeEs ist ein Ros’entsprungen  ( Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming)  Johannes Brahms

Call to Worship                    Abingdon
L: Let all who love God rejoice.
P: Let all who thirst for justice draw water from the well of God’s salvation.
L: Let all who long for Christ sing for joy.
P: Let all who hunger for righteousness return home to the living God.
L: Let all who seek the Spirit shout aloud.
P: Let all who yearn for mercy fall on their knees before the throne of grace.

Opening Prayer         Abingdon                                                        Paul Davis (R)
God of our salvation, you bring victory to the righteous and comfort to the outcast. As we come before you this day, lighten our hearts with laughter and loosen our tongues to sing your praise. For you alone are the source of our hope; you alone are the fountain of our joy. Be with us now and always. Amen

Prayer of Confession                         Abingdon
Source of compassion and grace, we yearn to embody the joy of your salvation, but we are easily distracted by the demands of the season; we long to taste the wellspring of your mercy, but we are caught up in the frenzy of the holidays. Be our quiet center, that we may find your joy deep within. Be our secret heart, that we may live lives of love wherever we go. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance
The one who loves us with a fierce tenderness takes away our guilt and leads us in the ways of life. The one who guides us with justice and mercy restores our fortunes and leads us home.

Hymn             Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus      UMH   196
1. Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

2. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.

Advent Reading
L: It’s a reunion, every time we go home, every time we embrace those we love, no matter how long it has been. It feels like sunrise, like the clouds are parting and the rain has ended. It is joy, nothing less than pure joy to grab hold of those who are home for us, who make home for us. Whether we wake up to them every day, or travel many miles to see them again, it is joy to go home.

P: The prophet Zephaniah tells us to rejoice at the thought of going home. The prophet tells us to imagine being set free, being unburdened, being released to live, to fully live in the grace and wonder of life itself, surrounded by those who love us like no one else. And then to live like that was our truth even now, even here. It is joy to go home.

L: John the Baptist reminds us, however, that it takes choices to live in this joy. It doesn’t just happen; we choose to make life a joy by how we love others, by how we serve and give and care for others, by how we do the job we do and how we impact the world around us. We build joy as we build a home in this world and the next.

P: We light these candles, the candle of hope, and of peace, and of joy, as a sign that we are on our way home, and we walk with a skip in our step because we can see the destination, and it is pure joy. It is time to go home.

First Reading – Zephaniah 3:14-20                                                  Paul Davis (R)
14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

Tithes & Offerings – Can be sent to 329 N. 5th Street; Reading, PA 19601  Or online HERE

Chancel Choir Offertory:  A Gaelic Rose ( Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming) Hayes/Shafferman UMH 216
1. Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as those of old have sung. It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night.

2. Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind; with Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind. To show God’s love aright, she bore to us a Savior, when half spent was the night.

3. O Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air, dispel in glorious splendor the darkness everywhere. True man yet very God, from sin and death now save us, and share our every load.

Offertory Prayer       Abingdon                                           
Generous God, the bounty of your love overflows into every aspect of our lives. May the gifts we bring before you this day be a sign of our commitment to share our love with those in need. May the offerings we place upon your Lord’s table symbolize our trust in your power to heal the world through the works of our hands and the ministries of your church. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Prayers of the People  Send Prayer requests to office@holycrossumc.com

The 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, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Second Reading – Isaiah 12:2-6
2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 3With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. 5Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. 6Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Message            Rev. Mandy Miller

Hymn             It Came Upon the Midnight Clear                  UMH  218
1. 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, good will to men [all], from heaven’s all-gracious King.” The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

2. 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.

3. And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing. O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

4. For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

Benediction     

Organ PostludeCold December Flies Away (UMH233) Setting by dale Wood

Hymns and Prayers used under CCLS# 2049575 / Hymns and Prayers for Streaming CCSL #20468685/ Bible readings from New Revised Standard Version.