November 29, 2020

1st Sunday of Advent

Text:  Charles Coffin, 1676-1749

Music:  European tune, adapt.Michael Praetorius, 1571-1621

On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh; Awake and hearken, for he brings glad tidings of the King of kings!

Then cleansed be ev’ry life from sin; Make straight the way for God within, And let us all our hearts prepare; for Christ to come and enter there.

We hail you as our Savior, Lord, our refuge and our great reward; Without your grace we waste away like flow’rs that wither and decay.

Stretch forth your hand, our health restore, and make us rise to fall no more; Oh, let your face upon us shine, and fill the world with love divine.

All praise to you, eternal Son, whose Advent has our freedom won, Whom with the Father we adore, and Holy Spirit, evermore.

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight’” Matthew 3:3

Sharing

     On this first Sunday in Advent, let’s look back to another time.  We see a bearded man in camel’s hair clothing speaking to us—John the Baptist—and he is saying “I am the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that God would send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord”.

     But, do we realize that we too, are the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy?  At this very moment, God is calling us to prepare the way for His coming.  If we accept, we won’t have to trudge through the desert like John did.  Our wilderness is life itself—overgrown with our work, school, family commitments, meetings, social engagements, athletic events and holiday plans.

     Now, if we knew that in less than four weeks, Jesus would come and sit at our very table at home, what would we want Him to see?  How would we get ready?  How could we help make a path for Him in our lives?

Prayer

Dear Lord, open my heart and mind to your coming again this season.  Remind me that you came for me long ago in Bethlehem, that you will come again to take me with you to heaven, and that each day you come into my heart to forgive my sins and make me new.  Amen.

November 30, 2020

1st Monday of Advent

Text: Frans Mikael Franzen, 1772-1847           Music:  Swedish folk tune

 

Prepare the Royal Highway

Prepare the Royal Highway; the King of kings is near!  Let ev’ry hill and valley a level road appear!

Then greet the King of glory, foretold in sacred story;  Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word. 

 Then fling the gates wide open to greet your promised king!  Your king, yet ev’ry nation its tribute too may bring.

All lands will bow before him; their voices join your singing;  Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word.

 His is no earthly kingdom; it comes from heav’n above. His rule is peace and freedom and justice, truth and love.

So let your praise be sounding for kindness so abounding:  Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word.

 

“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together.  And a little child shall lead them” -Isaiah 11:6

 

Sharing

Advent ushers in the new Church Year.  Advent means coming.  We are waiting…waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ.  We need to pray with humble and believing hearts that we can make a place for Him in our lives this Advent.  The gifts of this new Church year are the Word of God, forgiveness, comfort, peace and joy.

 

Prayer

God of peace, you bring the promise of a time and place where the divisions and fears of your people will melt away.  In that glorious time, all of life will be made new.  In the coming of your Son, Jesus, you bring me the hope and promise of that new day.  We welcome Jesus and praise You dear God.  We shout together as in the hymn, “Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word.” Come Lord Jesus, come.  Amen.

 

December  1, 2020

1st Tuesday of Advent

Text: Isaiah 9:6-7  

Music:  George Frederick Handel                         Sung by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir 

For Unto Us a Child is Born
For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given
Unto us a Son is given

And the government shall be upon His shoulder
And His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,          The Mighty God,                    The everlasting Father,                                The Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:2a, 5-6

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.

For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Sharing

   

I love the words from Isaiah—so reassuring, so sure.  I love the crispness of the music written by Handel from his work, “The Messiah”.  –Kathleen Walrath

Go calmly into Christmas…how wonderful it would feel to do that!   As we think of the quiet joys of that first Christmas let us find ways to pass the days of preparation more peacefully and joyfully.  Let us celebrate this gift from God by sharing our happiness and enjoying the opportunity to enrich the lives of our families and others.

 

Prayer

We joyfully praise you, O Lord, as we wait for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives.  Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Amen. 

December  2, 2020

1st Wednesday of Advent

Text:  Isaac Watts, 1674-1748  

Music:  English melody, 18th cent; arr. Lowell Mason, 1792-1872  

Pine View High School Handbell Choir  arrangement by Martha Lynn Thompson

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her king;  Let ev’ry heart, prepare Him room                         And heav’n and nature sing,                                        And Heav’n and nature sing                                            And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing

 Joy to the earth, the Savior 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 sin and sorrow 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 world 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 won—ders won-ders of his love. 

Luke 2:10-11

But the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah”

Sharing

One of the first Christmas hymns I learned to play on the piano.  –Carol Emmel

My first granddaughter’s middle name is Joy and she has a collection of “Joy” things especially at Christmas time.—Roberta Thomas

I’ve always wondered whether “Joy to the World” is an Advent carol or a Christmas carol.  We typically sing it at the end of Christmas eve worship; it is the ultimate final carol!  Yet – when you look at it more intently, you will notice: it is positioned in our hymnal directly in-between the sections of Advent and Christmas, and at the top of the page it definitely says “Advent.”  When I first noticed this conundrum, I decided to turn to the lyrics to the first verse of the hymn (see above) to dig more deeply.  

Upon looking deeper – this is an advent hymn that shifts to a Christmas focus in later verses.  While a lot of people may misplace the word “is” with “has” in the first line of the first verse, this hymn really is a bit more advent in nature – it is about our coming Lord.  

The Lord is coming.  And let us all prepare to receive Him!   Each of us is preparing to receive Christ into our hearts in this season of Advent.  Even though – we as Christians know the end of this story– we still await our coming King.  Let us wait.  And then sing about the wonders of His love.  –Pastor Jennifer

 

Prayer

We joyfully praise you, O Lord, as we wait for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives.  Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Amen. 

December 3, 2020

1st Thursday of Advent

Text:   Joseph Mohr,  1792-1849

 Music: Franz Gruber, 1787-1863

Silent Night

Silent night, Holy night 
All is calm all is bright     

Round yon virgin, mother and child,                           
Holy infant, so tender and mild                               Sleep in heavenly peace                             Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night 
Shepherds quake, at the sight 

Glories stream from heaven afar           
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia!                             Christ the Savior is born,                                               Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night 
Son of God, love’s pure light 

Radiant beams from your holy face
       With the dawn of redeeming grace,                       
Jesus, Lord at your birth                                     Jesus, Lord at your birth.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.

 

Sharing

In 1818, in a village high in the Austrian Alps, mice had eaten at the bellows of the church organ just before Christmas.  Joseph Mohr, the priest, quickly wrote the words for Silent Night. He gave them to the organist, Franz Gruber, to write a tune that could be played on the guitar.

I’ve always loved the story behind Silent Night.  Even back then, Pastors and musicians had to be flexible when challenges occurred!  But WOW! To write words and music “on the fly” that have remained such a part of our tradition and heritage, just blows me away! –Carolyn Masterson

This was sung by my grandmother in German many times over. Wonderful memory! –Jan Molter

Many Christmas services sing this prayer while lighting and holding candles. –Victoria Randall

I sang this song at Christmas Eve service with my family by candle light for most of my life.  It now reminds me of my parents’ love and love for Jesus. –Mark Wiskow

Reminds me of Christmas with my family when I was young. –David McGrath

It’s such a special part of Christmas Eve service.  I feel it’s the most personal of songs and it leaves me feeling directly in God’s presence. –Melinda Moe

I learned the first verse in German when I taught Sunday School,  before I go married. –Roberta Thomas

 

Prayer

Gracious God, help us find peace as we prepare for our Lord’s birth.  May challenges in our lives and with our families be peacefully resolved.  May there be peace in our cities and in the countries of our world. Help us to see the paths of peace in our lives, and then give us the courage to follow them.  Lord, let us remember that you only are the giver of lasting peace and that you are always with us. Amen.



December 4, 2020

1st Friday of Advent

Text:  Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-c.413; translated by John Mason Neale

 

Music:  DIVINUM MYSTERIUM; Plainsong or chant

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s Love Begotten 
E’er the world began to be,   

He is Alpha and Omega,                                       
He the source the ending He                    Of the things that are that have been
And that future years shall see                             Evermore and evermore

O ye heights of heav’n adore Him
Angel hosts His praises sing
Pow’rs dominions bow before Him,                              And extol our God and King
Let no tongue on earth be silent
Ev’ry voice in concert ring,  Evermore and evermore

O that birth for ever bless-ed,                                     When the Virgin, full of grace  By the Holy Ghost conceiving,  Bore the Savior of our race                      And the babe, the world’s redeem—er                        First revealed his sacred face,                             Evermore and evermore.

Christ to Thee with God the Father
And O Holy Ghost to Thee
Hymn and chant and High thanksgiving
And unwearied praises be
Honor glory and dominion, And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore 

John 3:16-17   

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Sharing

The beautiful chanting quality of this song reinforces the universal, on-going love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the great gift of Lord Jesus to us all.             
We can have hope and joy in the constancy of God! – Kris Nebel

This poem was written in the 4th century by Marcus Aurelius Prudentius Clemens around the same time that the Council of Nicea and the Council of Constantinople were addressing Heresies in the church regarding the deity of Christ.  There is little doubt that part of the aim of Prudentius’ work was to give poetic “wings” to an important turning point in the history of the church. (See especially the last verse)

It was first translated into English in the 19th Century by John Mason Neale.

 It’s so amazing to me that this beautiful Christian poem/hymn has remained in our churches through the ages.  –Carolyn Masterson

Prayer

Teach us to love, O Lord.  May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives.  As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world. We pray that all may know your love and know the one who you sent, your Son, our Savior.  Amen. 



December 5, 2020

1st Saturday of Advent

Text:  Mark Lowry

Music:  Buddy Greene—  Sung by Pentatonix

Mary Did You Know

Mary did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water
Mary did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new
This Child that you delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy
Would give sight to the blind man
Mary did you know that your baby boy
Would calm a storm with His hand
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod
And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God
Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap the dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Oh Mary did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation
Mary did you know that your baby boy
Will one day rule the nations
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb
And the sleeping Child you’re holding
Is the great I Am

Isaiah 2:2-4 In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house                             
Shall be established as the highest of the mountains                                                   
And shall be raised above the hills; 
All the nations shall stream to it 

He shall judge between the nations,   
And shall arbitrate for many peoples;      They shall beat their swords into plowshares, 
And their spears into pruning hooks;                         

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,   

Neither shall they learn war any more
 

Sharing

In 1984 when his pastor asked him to write the program for the living Christmas tree choir presentation, Mark Lowry wrote these words.  The music was written by Buddy Greene. It was first released in 1992, by Michael English, on his debut album. Kathy Mattea recorded her version in 1993, thus giving the song its first widespread exposure to Country radio.

This song reminds me of how young Mary was, how scared she must have been, but how important she was, even though she didn’t know it.  –Polly Mauer

Also a favorite of Heidi Miller.

 

Prayer

Most Holy God, as we think of Mary, her courage, love, and faith, help us to remember the love that you have shown to us, through the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ.  By giving his life for us, neither sin, nor death, nor any power of evil can separate us from your love. Amen.