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First Christian Church, Grand Junction – Praising God, Changing Lives!

December 20, 2020 At-Home Worship Plan

4th Sunday of Advent 2020
At-Home Worship Plan
First Christian Church, Grand Junction
December 20, 2020

PREPARATION

  • Communion Elements
  • Your At-Home Worship Space Advent Decorations (from the Hanging of the Greens Service) – Most importantly, have some kind of candle, so you can light a candle during the Advent Wreath Candle Lighting
  • A computer/tablet/phone for looking up the worshipful songs.  You could also use a hymnal and an instrument.
  • YOUTUBE Sermon and Hymns – A video of Pastor Brad preaching will be on the First Christian Church Youtube site.  Visit the First Christian Church Grand Junction Colorado YouTube Channel to find the playlists for the sermon and the hymns for the day.  The playlists of the videos for each are also accessible from our website.

ORDER OF WORSHIP

Advent & Christmas Carols

(You can look up the lyrics/music in a hymnal or on hymnary.org…or watch the playlist on our YouTube channel or website.)

  • “All Earth is Waiting” #139
  • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” #150

Invocation

God of Advent, as we continue our preparations for Christmas in worship, adorn our hearts and minds with your love and peace.  Help us to focus with joy on the true meaning of Christmas; help us to share the true meaning of Christmas with everyone we encounter.  May the hope, peace, and joy of this season clothe us in your bountiful grace and love as we witness to the world your gift of salvation through the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who taught us to pray…

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 debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
Lead us, not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory
Forever.  Amen.

Advent Wreath Candle Lighting

(To watch a video of today’s Advent Candle Reading & Lighting, follow this link:   https://youtu.be/Rc0XRb00zRM.  The video can be accessed from the First Christian Church Grand Junction YouTube Channel.)

Today’s ancestor of Jesus is Mary and our symbol is a White Lily

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Devotion: The time was come for the prophecies of old to be fulfilled.  God’s promise to send the Savior is about to occur. As Isaiah had said, “The Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”. The word Immanuel is translated as meaning “God with us.” When Mary heard the news from the angel, she broke forth in one of the most beautiful songs ever written, the Magnificat. She eagerly awaited the coming of the Light of the world. May we follow her example and be willing to let God use us in His glorious purposes. May we let His Light shine through us!

Light the third blue candle (or 4th candle or only candle, depending upon your set-up.)

Prayer: As the time for Your coming draws near, prepare our hearts and lives. We are waiting excitedly for the Light of the world. Help us to let our lights shine for others. We also pray that You bring forth the dark corners of our hearts into Pure Light, so that we may live a more holy way. Amen. 

Anthem – “Joseph’s Song” –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkwQe9uyLvA

MorningPrayer

(Share joys and concerns, then have someone pray the following prayer or one of your own.)

God of Advent,

We await the coming of your Son.

We anticipate our celebration of his first coming, and we anticipate his future coming.

As we wait, fill our hearts with the joy of Christmas.  Fill our hearts with the warm knowledge of your love.  Grant that we will come to know your love by each experience of joy we have this Advent season, experiences like those mentioned in this service of worship.  And grant that by each experience we will respond to you with hearts and voices and lives that will make Messiah known to all the world.

Even as we give thanks for the joys you make possible, we know there are people who struggle to find joys you make possible – even the joys of Advent and Christmas, and so we ask also for your strength to entrust the needs of this world and its inhabitants to you.  We entrust to your care this day:

  • All who are on our congregation’s prayer list, and all who have been mentioned by name in our worship;
  • All who suffer from abuse or oppression;
  • All who struggle with anxiety or distress;
  • All who suffer from lack of food, water, shelter, or loving relationships;
  • All who suffer from injury or illness;
  • All who mourn or grieve;
  • All who struggle with quarantines and lockdowns, as well as those whose bodies are being ravaged by COVID-19;
  • All who struggle in their efforts to follow Jesus;
  • All who fear the power of your outpoured Spirit;
  • All who refuse to seek you;
  • All who struggle to experience the joy of this season;
  • For all who have need but who go unnamed;

For all who have need of your intervention, O God, grant them what you know they need; respond to these prayers in the way you see as being best, the way that will turn shouts of pain and suffering into shouts of joy, the way that will bring glory to your name.

God of Advent anticipation and Christmas joy, strengthen us now, in this moment, strengthen us always, to follow Joseph’s example of doing what you call us to do to participate in your gift of Messiah…that we might spend our lives making a difference in returning creation to your desires for it.

We pray, as we live, through Jesus whose birth we anticipate, and by the power of your Holy Spirit…Amen.

Scripture and Message (Sermon)

Read the scripture passages from pastor Brad’s sermon and then read, listen to, or watch (on YouTube) the sermon.  The text and audio of the sermon – as well as a video – can be found on our congregation’s website at gjdisciples.org under the “Sermons” tab.


Invitation to Discipleship

Consider God’s invitation to you through the story of Joseph.  Somehow, God is entrusting the continuation of Jesus’ ministry, the continuation of the knowledge of God’s love and desires for all the world as made known through Jesus, with you.  Just as God entrusted the child Jesus to Joseph, God is entrusting some creation-changing thing to you.  How will you respond.

Hymn of Invitation – “Lift Up Your Heads, O Mighty Gates” #129

Offering

Invitation.  I can’t imagine being entrusted to be the steward of something so precious as the baby Jesus, but that’s exactly the position into which Joseph found himself.  Can you imagine being entrusted with the care and protection of God’s most precious gift to humanity?

And yet, in a metaphorical way, that is precisely the position in which we find ourselves.  We HAVE been entrusted with the care and protection and sharing of God’s most precious gift.  How are we doing with the trust God has placed in us?

There are so many ways you can be a good steward of Jesus and the gospel.  One of those many ways has to do with your financial resources.  I encourage you to consider on this last Sunday before we celebrate Jesus’ birth how God calls you to utilize the material resources to which you have been entrusted to share God’s greatest gift with the world.  Let’s be in the spirit of Christian sharing.

Response.  If you feel called to respond by making a monetary gift to continue God’s work through FCCGJ, you can do so right now in one of three ways:

    1. Write a check to First Christian Church and mail it to FCCGJ, 1326 N. 1st Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501.
    2. On your cellphone, text GIVE2FCCGJ (plus the dollar amount you want to give) to 73256.  For example, if you want to offer $50, text GIVE2FCCGJ $50 to 73256.
    3. Via the internet on your computer, go to our congregation’s website at gjdisciples.org, click “online giving” on the top menu bar, and then click on the link under the second bullet point to make an online contribution.

Offering Prayer.  Say a prayer asking for God’s blessing upon whatever gift/commitment you made to God, as well as all the other commitments Jesus’ followers are making this morning.

Communion

Invitation to Communion:  God called Joseph to place his life on the line in ways we likely cannot imagine.  As Jesus’ protector, Joseph was squarely in the crosshairs of King Herod.  If Herod caught up to Joseph, his life would be over (and probably in a very gruesome way.)

As we approach this communion meal and remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we are reminded that Jesus also calls us to at least take on a posture of willingness to make sacrifices for him…and for the gospel.  As you approach the table, consider the cost of sharing your faith with others who don’t necessarily want to hear – others who might scoff and call your faith “fantasy” or “misguided”, and ask God for the strength to share the gospel in response to God’s call anyway.

Communion Hymn – “I Wonder as I Wander” #161

Prayer:  

God who gave your Son that we might have life…bless this bread and cup, and help us by our partaking of these elements to remember and know your love for us.  Help us to know and remember in a way that will lead us to respond to your call to spread the news of your love made known in Jesus in such a way that future generations will not forget.  I pray these things in the name of Jesus and by the power of your Holy Spirit, Amen.

Words of Institution:  We remember that on the night Jesus was to be betrayed, he sat around a table with his disciples and shared a meal.  While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and, after giving thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, “Take, eat.  This is my body, broken for you.”  In the same way, Jesus took a cup, and after blessing it, said, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

Partake of the bread and cup in your own time.

Closing Song

“Come, O Long Expected Jesus” #125

Closing Prayer/Benediction

Go now as the people of God,
Following God’s specific call on your life,
To Keep the gospel and news of Messiah alive and well.
Go in the name of Jesus
And by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Amen.