Worship: December 6, 2020

ZION UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

22 Gettysburg Street  Box 538

Arendtsville, Pennsylvania

Second Sunday in Advent

December 6, 2020

9:00 am

 Live stream link:  Zion UCC Sunday Services Livestream – December 6 2020

 

Welcome to Zion and a special welcome to our visitors in these days of adjusting to a new normal in worship.  Because of the rising concerns for the spread of the covid19 virus, we have chosen to live stream our worship services, suspending in-person worship until we gain a clearer picture of how to gather together in the sanctuary to worship safely.  These are difficult times and even with the hope for a vaccine in the near future, it will be some time before enough people have the vaccine in order to effectively control Covid-19.  We ask for your patience and understanding and your faithful support of the church in these days of a new normal for all of us.  Let us continue to pray and to remain faithful, knowing that our God continues to reach out and to embrace us.  We sometimes need to be reminded that our God promises to be near to us in the most difficult days as well as the days when life seems easy for us.

As you follow along in the bulletin during live stream worship, please participate quietly when you come to the bold print.

PRELUDE:  Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, Music:  Renee Gardner,

Based on HYFRYDOL by Rowland Hy. Prichard, ©1993 Lorenz Publishing Co.

 

TIME OF SHARING

 

LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLE OF PEACE

We come because we’ve seen some hint of hope, a hand outstretched,

a candle standing bravely in the dark.

Our waiting is a time for memories;

 for retelling the ancient stories of our people.

We’ve gathered here to warm our weary hearts

while we wait for something we have never known.

We come to celebrate the outrageous possibility that God is calling forth

our gifts in ways that have already changed the world.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me;

the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Praise be to the Lord, because God has come and redeemed the people.

“A voice of one calling in the desert,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make the paths straight.'”

Praise be to the Lord, because God has come and redeemed the people.

“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.”

Praise be to the Lord, because God has come and redeemed the people.

“All humankind will see God’s salvation.”

Praise be to the Lord, because God has come and redeemed the people.

Today we light two candles on the Advent Wreath.

The first candle is the candle of hope;

during Advent we wait in hope for God’s love to make its full expression in the Messiah.

The second candle is the candle of peace.

Because the way was prepared, because God has come and redeemed the people,

we can be at peace.

Praise be to the Lord, because God has come and redeemed the people.

Let us pray together, saying:

 Almighty God, we are thankful that you sent the prophets

to prepare the people to receive Jesus.

We are thankful that you sent John the Baptist

to cry in the wilderness that the Messiah was coming.

We ask today that you help us prepare the world for Jesus.

 Where there are roadblocks of hatred and prejudice, help us to remove them.

Where there are barriers of indifference, help us to breach them with love.

Where we humans have made things crooked, help us to begin to straighten them out.

We pray for the day when all humans will see God’s salvation. Amen.

 

GATHERING HYMN “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry”

Printed with permission under license CCLI #1149146

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 every 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 flowers that wither and decay.

 

Stretch forth your hand; our health restore,

And make us rise to fall no more.

O let your face upon us shine

And fill the world with love divine.

 

TIME OF CONFESSION

God is patient with us, not wanting any to perish.

Yet we have turned away from holiness and godliness.

We have chosen to fit into society rather than give leadership for a new day.

Let the Church confess its failures.

Forgive us, Lord, if we have hindered your entrance into our lives,

if we have been preoccupied by work or play,

if we have barred you from certain aspects of our private lives,

if we have worshiped our possessions.

Forgive us, we pray, and clear away any underbrush or barriers

that keep you from the core of our being.

And now let us confess in silence those fears

that keep us from loving as Christ has loved us.

 

CONFESSION MEDITATION:  Softly and Tenderly,

ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS

God speaks tenderly to us and assures us that

our debt has been paid, our sins forgiven, our paths made straight.

God’s glory is waiting to burst into the midst of all who accept the Good News.

Surely our salvation is at hand.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,

and righteousness will look down from the sky.

Enjoy the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God for this magnificent gift of love.

 

THE GIVING OF OURSELVES AND OUR OFFERINGS

“Let your light shine before others,” said Jesus,

“so that they may see your good works

and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

(For the time being we would ask you to mail your offering Zion United Church of Christ, PO Box 538, Arendtsville, Pennsylvania 17303, or to use the Electronic Funds Transfer option which is available by contacting the church office.  Your ongoing support of the church is deeply appreciated in these days.)

PRAYER OF DEDICATION

Holy God, in our daily lives as well as through these offerings,

we wish to be light‑givers in a world that all

too often is dark with confusion and despair.

 

VOCAL SOLO:  “To a Virgin, Meek and Mild”

Dan White, soloist

 

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON FOR THE MORNING

Isaiah 40: 1-11

40:1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
40:2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
40:3 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
40:4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
40:5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
40:6 A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
40:7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
40:9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
40:10 See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
40:11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

 

EPISTLE LESSON FOR THE MORNING

II Peter 3: 8-15a

3:8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
3:11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,
3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?
3:13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
3:14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish;
3:15a and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.

 

GOSPEL READING FOR THE MORNING

St. Mark 1: 1-8

1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
1:3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”
1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
1:6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
1:7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

SILENT PRAYER AND PREPARATION

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, ©1985, The Singing Church, Hope Publishing

 

THE MESSAGE FOR THE MORNING

 

PASTORAL PRAYER AND 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 sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

 

CLOSING HYMN  “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

Printed with permission under license CCLI #1149146

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,

Of Jesse’s lineage coming, by faithful prophets sung.

It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,

When half spent was the night.

 

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 for us a Savior,

When half spent was the night.

 

This flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,

Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere.

Enfleshed, yet very God, from sin and death he saves us

And lightens every load.

 

COMMISSION AND BENEDICTION

May Jesus Christ, at his second coming,

find you prepared for him,

for he lives and reigns forever,

worthy of all honor and all praise.

 

CHIME MEDITATION

Away in a Manger, J.R. Murray, arr. Robert J. Hughes, ©1975 Chimes Meditations for Organs, Lorenz Publishing Company

 

POSTLUDE

Morning Meditation, Ben Logan, ©2000  The Church Organist, Lorenz Publishing Company

 

The Altar Flowers are presented to the glory of God and in loving memory of our daughter, J., by Bonnie and Frank O.

During this virus situation, the Office Manager will often be working from home.  Please call the office before stopping by.

 Coming Up Next Week:

December 6                     Live stream Worship                                       9:00 a.m.

Sunday School                 Zoom                     10:00 a.m.

December 9                     Bible Study                      Zoom                       6:30 p.m.

 

Looking Forward:

December 13                   Live stream Worship                                       9:00 a.m.

With annual meeting

Sunday School                 Zoom                     10:00 a.m.

December 16                   Bible Study                      Zoom                       6:30 p.m.

Happy Belated Birthday to Peggy D. on December 4th!

Our Sympathy to:  the family and friends of Purcell B. who died on November 27th.

Thank you, Thank you:  from Jane T. who was overwhelmed by the 75 birthday cards she received from Zion members as she celebrated her 92nd birthday.

Pastoral Care:  If you would like a visit from George, please contact him and let him know a convenient time.

Worship Reminder:  Thanks to all who attended the live stream service on Sunday.  Please let the church office know of anything that might enhance your worship experience during the live stream service.  This is new territory for Zion, and we will help any member who has internet and would enjoy viewing the service.  So, don’t be afraid to request assistance if needed!

Annual Meeting:  During the live stream service on Sunday, December 13th, Zion will have a presentation by the Consistory President and Finance Committee Chairperson covering the agenda items listed in the mailing you received concerning the annual meeting.  As stated in the letter, you can submit questions about any of the documents via email or calls to the church office or directly to Consistory members before that date so the questions can be addressed during the presentation.  Two Consistory members will also be present from 1 pm to 2 pm on the afternoon of the 13th in the sanctuary should you wish to drop by with more questions or to hand in your ballots.  All church members will vote by proxy ballot this year (proxies were included with the letter), and proxies must be returned by December 20th to the church office, either in regular mail or by email; there will also be a box in the utility room on the back porch of Zion House for your convenience.  Thank you for participating in the business of the church!

Christmas Activities:  Zion plans to hold a Carol Sing on the parking lot at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 20th.  Come enjoy some music of the season from the comfort of your car or lawn chair depending on the weather; we will be singing Christmas carols as well as enjoying some of the choir members singing solo!  Masks and social distancing are the order of the day.  A bonfire in the fire pit will enhance the event.  There will be normal parking on the parking lot for this event (unlike we parked for summer worship services).

On Christmas Eve Day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the sanctuary will be open to provide you with an opportunity for personal meditation and prayer.  Christmas music will be playing as well.   Please wear masks and maintain social distancing in the sanctuary.

On Christmas Eve, Zion plans to have a live Nativity with carols on the parking lot, again at 3:00 p.m. with the pergola transformed into the manger in Bethlehem complete with fire in the fire pit. Bring your lawn chairs and your masks and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child together at a safe distance.  There will be parking in the normal way for this service.

On Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m., we will live stream a Christmas Eve worship service from the sanctuary at Zion as we anticipate the birth of our Savior.  Several soloists will share special Christmas music and we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

The Offering Box will be in the sanctuary on December 13th from 1pm to 2 pm if you would like to deliver your offerings to the church in person.  Also, the offering box will be at the Carol Sing on December 20th and in the sanctuary during the time of meditation and prayer.  Thank you for your generous support of Zion in these difficult times.  Because you have continued to be faithful in your support of the church, we have been able to maintain our ministry and witness to the community.

2021 Offering Envelopes will be available for pick up from 1 pm to 2 pm on December 13th in the sanctuary as well as on December 20th at the Carol Sing and on December 24th when the sanctuary is open for meditation and prayer.  Please pick up your own offering envelopes as well as any you may be able to deliver to family and neighbors.   Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Prayer Requests:  Don’t forget to send your prayer requests via email to the church office by Friday evening to have them included in the Sunday service.

Homewood Christmas Gifts:  Today is the last day to drop off signed Christmas cards with blank envelopes and UNWRAPPED, UNSCENTED, any brand body lotion and UNWRAPPED cube style tissue boxes for Homewood residents.  Cards and lotion/tissues can be placed in the labeled bin in the storage closet on the back porch of Zion House

John’s Meals Mac & Cheese:  Your mac & cheese donations for John’s Meals can be placed in the labeled bin in the storage closet on the back porch of Zion House at a time convenient to you.

PCC Advent Cantata:  The virtual choir cantata is now available on the Penn Central Conference’s YouTube Channel.  Feel free to view it as often as you like during the next six months.  You can play the full cantata by holding your CTRL key while clicking on this word:  here