A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

Gathering Song             “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”             red book # 257

Advent Candle LIGHTING  –  LOVE

Candle Lighting Song       “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah”       red book # 240

GREETING

Canticle of PRAISE                       red book page 149 (set 4)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

2 SAMUEL 7:1-11, 16

LUKE 1:46b-55

ROMANS 16:25-27

LUKE 1:26-38

SERMON                                            Pastor Chris Halverson

Advent 4:Where do you find love?

Here we are at the tail end of Advent,
The last vapors of this season of emergence, arrival, revelation.
          A time like waiting for a letter, the contents of which will reveal everything—making everything plane.
          But this season is also like driving your car to a new place for the first time.
          The drive back always feels quicker—because you are no longer looking so carefully, you don’t pay as close attention.
          In fact, by the 100th drive there, it feels like the car drives itself.
          So too Advent—we’ve driven this road a long time—Christians have observed and practiced Advent in some form for at least 1,650 years–and by now we often see our destination as Christmas, so we don’t notice the budding blessing of Advent
–we don’t revel in the moving and empowering radiance of Love
–we don’t rest in the strengthening power of Peace,
–We don’t lean into the bracing and crisp wind of Hope,
–we aren’t buoyed up by the enduring buoyancy of Joy,
We skip over the precious gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
We don’t let Advent interrogate our lives to help us find its treasures.
But this morning, at least, let’s ask, “Where can you find love?”
Prayer
Where can you find love?
          The short answer—God.
          Have you not heard, God is love!
          Our ability to love, it comes from God
—God fortifies us and strengthens us to love others. Throughout God’s good creation, through the power of God’s redemption of us,
and God’s ongoing sustenance of us
—we find God’s love in all those things
—in our relationship with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
          Yes—God loves us and fortifies us to act in loving and good ways!
Where can you find love?
          I can’t wait to tell you!
          There’s a love letter from God, one etched in flesh and proclaimed in a person!
          I can’t wait to tell you,
 you, yes you,
particularly and individually
—all your peculiarities and personality
—YOU are loved.
          I can’t wait to tell you, all of you, how deeply God loves the whole of you—y’all if you will…all of us connected together and bound in a great harmony
—heck, even the disharmony, the off notes, the unpleasant singing
—even that God makes into ruckus improvisational Jazz! Even that is found to be lovely, beloved!
Yes, even when we hold but faint fleeting wisps of Hope, Peace, and Joy—the Love of God is still there!
Where can you find love?
          That letter, written to humanity, penned as with invisible ink, told the story of God’s love—God’s continuous relationship—with particular people, through thick and thin, from slavery to tribal times, kingship to exile, escape to the enfeeblement of their nation, and an ongoing promise to always be with them—and then, that beautiful story, enfleshed, and expanded.
          That beautiful story, seen in full in Jesus
—that story continually expanding, even today, expanding God’s love for all of us
—God’s love found in Jesus, God fully with us,
with God’s creation
—the love story of God gifted to all of us!
          How do I even describe it?
          This mystery, revealed. You may know what it is like to fall in love—if so, it’s like that.
You’ve fallen even before you realize you’re in love
—the relationship overtakes you
—there is a reason it is called falling in love—it isn’t like you try to fall, it just happens to you, and then there you are on the ground a patch of ice under you!
          So too the revelation of God’s mystery—that God’s love through Jesus is for all!
          You’re going along reading the love story, and then you’ve fallen in love
—it was always there, God’s love for us, it’s always been there!
          A mystery, like the one in Mary’s womb, tiny yet tangible,
sign and story stirring within her, in the face of all that which would obstruct the mercy of God
—all the stories of the world that weave away from God’s promise and greatest gift found in Mary’s womb
—God’s love for us incarnate, that’s the great mystery of God!
Where can you find love?
          Anywhere—everywhere! That’s just it, that’s the revelation, that’s what is revealed in the invisible ink of scripture—God’s love for all.
          That’s what’s revealed in God’s Word made Flesh, Jesus—that God’s love is not meant to rest in some heavenly home, never to touch our secular soil, but instead that the sacred is here with us—that God’s love, is with us. Jesus present to each of us!
Where can you find love?
          We find love in you, dearest God. Love revealed in your strange wisdom. Love revealed in your glory, transformed into humility here on earth. God’s love in Jesus Christ revealed forever anew. Praise to you o’ God of Love. Amen.

 

HYMN of the DAY              “Christ, Be Our Light”          red book # 715

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY ANTHEM               “Candles of Advent”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS                 “Lamb of God”

Also, red book # 272, red book # 242

Sending

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG            “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve”          red book # 271

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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