An Advent service plan focused on Micah's prophecies of hope, how God brought the Messiah to the world through little Bethlehem, and how God is able to bring the "big" out of the "little" in a series on Micah and the hope that he pronounced.
This series of worship services explores the season of Advent through the eyes of the prophet Micah.
This is the third of five services that are shaped by Micah's prophecies of hope. In this service, the very familiar passage of 5:2 is considered. God brings his Messiah into the world through little Bethlehem. In this act we learn to recognize the work of God in which he frequently brings the "big" out of the "little."
Prelude: “Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn” [see music notes]
“Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes”
The Call to Worship:
We gather in preparation
for good news is about to be proclaimed.
We gather in expectations
for joy is about to explode in our midst.
We gather in celebration
for we are those people who have said
yes to the manger,
yes to love enfleshed,
yes to the one incarnate for others,
yes to the wholeness of God.
With preparation and in expectation, let us celebrate! (from TWS D.11.2.7)
*God's Greeting and Congregational Amen!
*Song: “Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes” PsH 335
or: “Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn” SNC 91
The Call to Confession:
Prepare the way of the Lord!
Let us make our confessions to God. (TWS D.2.1.1)
Our Prayer of Confession:
While we ask, Lord, for the most meaningful Advent season ever,
we sadly confess having done so little with so much.
Forgive us, Lord,
for not bending the knee,
for not reading your Word,
for not searching our hearts,
for not facing our sins.
Forgive us according to your tender mercies, O God!
Grant that when Christmas morning breaks for us this year,
we may have a fresh sense of your presence
and a renewed resolve to live to the praise of Christ's glory. Amen.
The Assurance of God's Pardon:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Your sins are pardoned.
The penalty is paid.
Thanks be to God. (based on Isaiah 40:1,2, TWS D.2.4.2)
Sung Response: "Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!" RN 139, SNC 44:3, WOV 612 [see music notes]
Lighting the Advent Candles: [see liturgy notes of both this service and the first service for an explanation of Advent Candles]
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world;
the one who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
We light these candles as a sign of the coming light of Christ.
(Three Advent Candles are lit.)
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
—Isaiah 9:2, NRSV
I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by the paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do
and I will not forsake them.
—Isaiah 42:16, NRSV
The LORD says to his servant,
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
—from Isaiah 49:6, NRSV
Come, Lord Jesus, our light and our salvation.
Let us walk in the light of the Lord. (TWS, D.1.4.27)
Let us hear God's Call to Live in the Light - Ephesians 5:8-10, 15-17
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
*Song: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" (RN 152:1-3, SNC 77:1-3, TWC 539:1-3, UMH 206:1-3, WOV 649)
The Prayer for Illumination
The Reading of Scripture: Micah 4:6 - 5:5a
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
Sermon: "The Poor Man's Ruler"
Text - Micah 5:2
The Prayer of Application
*Song: "O Little Town of Bethlehem” PH 44, RL 194, TH 201, TWC 155, UMH 230
The Prayers of the People
The offering of music: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” [see music notes]
The offering of our gifts for…
An Exhortation to Live in Hope
"Our Song of Affirmation: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Stuttgart: PsH 329, RL 183, SFL 122, Hyfrydol: PH 2, TH 196, TWC 135, UMH 196
*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!
*Song: “Canto de esperanza”/”May the God of Hope” PH 432, SNC 282
or: “That Boy-Child of Mary” PH 55, PsH 352, SFL 130, UMH 241
Postlude: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" [see music notes]
* You are invited to stand.
1. The Service of Renewal in God's Grace builds on the previous two weeks. See the Liturgy Notes of the first service for complete information. Portions of the readings and the candle lightings are the same from week to week. Each week an additional prophetic passage is added.
2. The Service of Responding to God's Word should carefully reflect the hope that was proclaimed in the sermon. The Prayers of the People can be pastoral and intercessory with a strong spirit of hope winding throughout them.
3. The Exhortation to Hope is a continuation of the same theme. Several possibilities for readings are Isaiah 43:1-3, 60:1-3, Habakkuk 3:16-19, Romans 5:1-5, 8:22-25, 15:13, 1 Peter 1:3-5, or 3:15. You may even want to conclude your readings with an exhortation, "So, people of God, be of good hope!"
1. Life has many surprises. After an earthquake a small boy is found alive under the rubble four days later. In the aftermath of devastating hurricanes people are willing to reach out and help each other unselfishly. In the pain of a critical illness, a family learns the beauty of caring for each other. Micah, the prophet, also has his share of surprises for us. In a sinful, battered and broken society, he brings the word of hope. In the middle of judgment and discipline he speaks of grace. And now from the small and forgotten town of Bethlehem, Ephrathah, a world ruler is to be born! The surprise is that the "big" comes from the "little."
2. Bethlehem was a town that never quite seemed to amount to much. A few "big" things happened there: Jacob buried Rachel there, Boaz married Ruth there, and Jesse raised his sheep-herding sons there (David included). But for the rest it never seemed to amount to much. Everybody went to Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. And then the surprise: a world ruler will come from Bethlehem!
3. The phrases of identification that point to this ruler need to be explored. He is called "one who will be ruler over Israel" and is declared one "whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Note the sweeping significance that these phrases connote. They point to the Messiah clearly.
4. This method, of surprisingly bringing the "big" out of the "little," is often God's method of working. He selected a nation of Hebrews slaves to be his covenant people, not the Egyptians or Assyrians! He selected the boy-shepherd David to be anointed king when his father didn't even bother to bring him in from the field for Samuel's visit. He selected young and unknown Mary to bear the Christ-child, not some prominent priest or prophet's wife. And for disciples he selected some uneducated fishermen, not Scribes or Pharisee leaders. Think of 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. That's the story of the Corinthians, and it's my (and your) story too. This is the story of the Christian Church and therein lies our confidence. God does "big" things with the "little."
5. What is the purpose of such a method? Look at 1 Corinthians 1:29-31.
The suggestions for prelude both draw on the theme of anticipation present in the Call to Worship.
REJOICE, REJOICE [“Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn”]
CHESTERFIELD/RICHMOND [“Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes”]
If you select “Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes” as the opening hymn, the following are alternative harmonizations:
The sung response to the Assurance of Pardon will be the same through the Advent season. We are suggesting using the refrain and the third verse of “Halle, Halle Hallelujah!” [SNC 44]. The refrain would both begin and end this response.
Alternative harmonizations for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” set to FOREST GREEN can be found in:
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” is frequently paired with two different tunes – ST. LOUIS and FOREST GREEN. If you incorporate this hymn into the service, try to select an offertory with the matching tune.
ST. LOUIS [“O Little Town of Bethlehem”]
FOREST GREEN [“O Little Town of Bethlehem”]
“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is also an Advent hymn paired with multiple tunes. We are here suggesting either STUTTGART or HYFRYDOL. Alternative harmonizations follow:
STUTTGART [“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”]
HYFRYDOL [“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”]
Suggestion for postlude, based on “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (again with the tune possibilities) are presented here:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)