2016 Advent series excerpt

The Journey…Walking the Road to Bethlehem

Mary of Nazareth

Advent Worship Series – Week 1

November 27, 2016


The Journey to Bethlehem


Call to Worship:


It’s one of Western Civilization’s best-known stories.  For two thousand years it has been told and retold, preached and sung about.  You know the locale—a manger in Bethlehem.  You know the cast of characters—Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds, the wise men and King Herod.  You may know plot details—the census, the long journey, the overcrowded inn.


This Advent we will walk the journey through the Holy Land and retrace the steps of those involved, all in an effort to come to a deeper understanding of what the Christmas story teaches us about Jesus Christ and about God’s will for our lives.

(Adapted from The Journey, pp. 14-15)


SB#104 – Come, Thou long expected Jesus TB-370 – Hyfrydol

[2 verses = 1 verse of tune; NO chorus]

HTD1-T14 (3 vs.)

[Only use 2 vs. from CD]

                                                       Additional Optional Songs
SB#113 – Joy to the world! TB-87 – same HTD4-T9 (3 vs.)
SB#103 – Christians awake, salute the happy morn TB-476 – Christians Awake HTD10-T1 (3 vs.)
SB#122 – See, amid the winter’s snow TB-259 – same HTD10-T12 (4 vs.)
SB#100 – Angels, from the realms of glory TB-407 – Regent Square HTD4-T12 (4 vs.)

The Candle of Hope


Lighting of Advent Candle


Reader 1:       Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means “coming,” and in this season we prepare for the coming of Christ. One of the ways we prepare for his coming is by making an Advent wreath and lighting its candles to remind us of the gifts Christ brings to the world.


Reader 2:       The Advent wreath includes many symbols to help us think about Christ and His gifts. The wreath itself is in the shape of a circle. A circle has no beginning and no end. This reminds us that there is no beginning and no end to God and that God’s love and caring are forever.


Reader 1:       The light from the candles—that grows stronger each Sunday in Advent—reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World.


Reader 2:       Today we light the candle of hope.  When the village founders named their village Nazareth which means “branch” or “shoot”, they may have chosen this name as a way of expressing hope that God would once again restore Israel.


[A person lights the candle of hope.]


Reader 1:       Isaiah 11:1-2 says:

But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
    And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will rest.

(Isaiah 11:1-2, The Voice)


Reader 2:       They may have chosen this name because, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, it was a sign that there are no hopeless causes with God.  They may have chosen this name as a way of articulating their hope that one day the Messiah would come to Israel.


Reader 1:       It was as if they were saying, “We believe there is always hope.  We believe God will deliver us.  We believe the day will come when God will send a new king who will deliver us.”


Reader 2:       Little did they know that the branch foretold in Isaiah would be a child who would grow up in their own village and would be the Savior of the world.


Reader 1:       Let us pray: “Thank you, God, for the hope you give us.  We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us.  Help us today and every day to worship You, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your hope with each other. We ask it in the name of the One who was born in Bethlehem.  Amen.”

(From The Journey, pp. 19-20)


HC#220 – Incarnate HC-220 HCD20-T20
                                                       Additional Optional Songs
SB#108 – Hark! the herald angels sing TB-270 – same HTD4-T5 (3 vs.)
SB#118 – O little town of Bethlehem TB-136 – same HTD3-T5 (3 vs.)
SB#124 – Silent night! Holy night! TB-842 – Stille Nacht HTD4-T15 (3 vs.)
HC#169 – Hallelujah HC-169 HCD15-T19


Children’s Moment/Drama – “Now Appearing” [or Scripture Reading – Luke 1:26-38]

Invite the children of the congregation forward and have them sit around the Narrator.


SB#117 – O come, Immanuel


TB-444 – same


HTD11-T8 (3 vs.)
                                                       Additional Optional Songs
SB#113 – Joy to the world! TB-87 – same HTD4-T9 (3 vs.)
SB#118 – O little town of Bethlehem TB-136 – same HTD3-T5 (3 vs.)
SB#103 – Christians awake, salute the happy morn TB-476 – Christians Awake HTD10-T1 (3 vs.)
SB#122 – See, amid the winter’s snow TB-259 – same HTD10-T12 (4 vs.)
SB#100 – Angels, from the realms of glory TB-407 – Regent Square HTD4-T12 (4 vs.)


Announcements and Offering – Christmas is not YOUR birthday!


     Each week during the offering, invite the congregation to give of what is precious to them as an expression of their joy and gratitude for the birth of Jesus and his role in their lives.  For some who are struggling financially, the gift may be something small, but all are invited to give something if they are able.  These gifts are then given to support the SA Christmas effort such as gifts for the Angel Tree, contributions to the kettle effort, canned goods, etc.

It is suggested that a kettle or the Angel tree be set up in the chapel so the congregation can come forward each week to support this tradition.

It is also a time to put money aside for World Services/Self-Denial, which could be collected and presented on Christmas Sunday. (More info:  https://centralmissions.org/worldservices/ )

[Put paragraph below in the bulletin]


Christmas is not YOUR birthday! – A New Christmas Tradition

Consider giving a special offering each week of Advent for people in need.  If you have children, teach your children this tradition, and help them learn that Christmas is not primarily about what is under the tree, but about God’s gift of Jesus Christ, and, in turn, Christ’s call upon our lives to give ourselves for others.


Grace has power!


Reader 1:       When the angel Gabriel appeared, his greeting to Mary was, “Hail, you who are full of grace!  God is with you!” (Luke 1:28).  Throughout the New Testament the meaning of grace changes depending on the context.  Paul begins most of his letters saying, “Grace and peace to you,” and he ends his letters with the words, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”  We stand in God’s grace, live by God’s grace, are saved by God’s grace, approach God in times of need asking for his grace.  So what does grace mean?


Reader 2:       Grace is God’s kindness, his love, his care, God’s work on our behalf, God’s blessings, his gifts, his goodness, God’s Salvation.


Reader 1:       But it is more than that.


It is goodness we don’t deserve.

Kindness we have no right to expect.

Salvation we can’t possibly have claim to.

Forgiveness beyond what we can fathom.

Blessings we can’t comprehend.


They are a pure gift.


Reader 2:       The giving of grace—of love and blessing and kindness we don’t deserve—has the power to change our lives.


Reader 1:       Grace is at the center of what God is doing in Christmas.  The child to be born of Mary would embody and incarnate grace.


Reader 2:       His message would be a message of grace.


Reader 1:       His life would demonstrate grace to sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

Jesus devoted his life to showing that God’s love, mercy and kindness are offered to them.  He showed the grace.


Reader 2:       Grace has power.  When you show kindness, compassion, goodness, or love to someone who does not deserve it, the act of grace has the power to change hearts, heal broken relationships, and reconcile people and even nations.   Grace changes the one who receives it, but also changes the one who gives it.


Challenge:      Identify the most undeserving person in your life.  How can you demonstrate grace?

(The Journey, Advent Readings)


  1. Luke 21:25 : 2Pe 3:10, 12
  2. Luke 21:26 : S Mt 24:29
  3. Luke 21:27 : S Mt 8:20
  4. Luke 21:27 : S Rev 1:7
  5. Luke 21:28 : Lk 18:7
  6. Luke 21:31 : S Mt 3:2
  7. Luke 21:32 : Lk 11:50; 17:25
  8. Luke 21:33 : S Mt 5:18
  9. Luke 21:34 : Mk 4:19
  10. Luke 21:34 : Lk 12:40, 46; 1Th 5:2-7
  11. Luke 21:36 : Mt 26:41

Prayers for grace…


Pastoral Prayer:

Lord, I hear of opportunities to serve others, or your call to stand up for what is right, or your invitation to give myself; yet sometimes I am afraid.  Forgive me for allowing fear, or my desire for safety and comfort, to keep me from doing your will.  Help me to hear your call and to be willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to do your work.  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Amen.

(The Journey: A Season of Reflections, p. 37)


Sermon:  Mary of Nazareth


 SB#636 – All to Jesus I surrender TB-333 – I surrender all HTD5-T9 (3 vs.)
                                                       Additional Optional Songs
HC#4 – Here I Am HC-4 HCD1a-T14
HC#156 – Enter In HC-156 HCD14-T16
HC#219 – King of Kings, Majesty



TB-722 – same

HC#172 – Here I Am, Lord



TB-689 – I, the Lord of sea and sky




Lord God, I want my prayer to be,

“Let it be with me according to your word,”

but so often my own wants and desires get in the way.

I have not been the Christ-bearer you have called me to be.

I have not loved my sisters and brothers

as you have instructed me to love.

I have not forgiven, I have not reconciled,

I have not worked for peace.

But still you have filled me with your grace,

and you continually demonstrate your love for me.

May I experience your forgiveness, Lord,

as I make my way through this time of preparation,

so that I may fully commit myself to the Prince of Peace,

our Savior, Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is in His name that I pray.


(The Journey, Leader Guide page 21)


HC#140 – O Come, All Ye Faithful

SB#116 – O come, all ye faithful


TB-496 – Adeste Fideles


HTD3-T1 (3 vs.)

                                                       Additional Optional Songs
HC#151 – Fairest Lord Jesus



TB-206 – Ascalon

HC#240 – Here in the Stable HC-240 HCD22-T20




Week #1 – Children’s Moment/Drama

Now Appearing

By Daphna Flegal, adapted by Martyn Scott Thomas

© Copyright 2015 by Martyn Scott Thomas. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Topic: Mary’s visit
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
Synopsis: Gabriel tells of his visit to Mary.
Characters: Narrator


Props/Costumes: None needed, however Gabriel can wear an angel costume.
Setting: Narrator is seated.
Running time: 2 minutes


[The Narrator should call the children of the congregation forward and have them sit around the chair.]


Narrator:        Today is the first week of Advent – the four weeks before Christmas.  So today we’re going to talk about the Christmas story.  Can anyone tell me some of the characters from the Christmas story?  [allow the children to answer – looking for “Mary”] That’s good.  Today we’re going to talk about Mary.


God asked Mary to play a very important part in the Christmas story.  And like anyone else, she had a chance to say yes or no.


Gabriel:          [swoops in, holding his arms out wide, moving among the children while shouting] Rejoice, favored ones!  The Lord is with you! [Repeat several times.]


Narrator:        Whoa!  Who are you?


Gabriel:          [still shouting] Don’t be afraid; I’m not here to scare you.

[thoughtfully]  Although, I’m sure having an angel drop by might be a little frightening. I mean, how often to do you get to see an angel?


Narrator:        An angel?  What brings you here, today?


Gabriel:          [normal voice] Let me introduce myself.  I’m the angel Gabriel, a messenger from God.  And I’ve come to tell you some exciting news.  “What news is that?” you ask. [pause]  I said, you ask “What news is that?” [get the children to say, “What news is that?”]  I’m so glad you asked.  It is really great news.  In fact, it is the best news ever.  I mean, this is fantastically awesome, stupendously marvelous news.  A young woman is going to have a baby.  Yep, that’s it.  That’s the news.  A young woman is having a baby.  “So what?” you ask. [pause] I said, you ask “So what?  [get the children to say,“ So, what?”]  I’m so glad you asked.  Let me tell you all about it.


A young woman named Mary lives in the small town of Nazareth.  She’s just an ordinary girl, living in an ordinary small town.  She’s engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, but right now she’s still living at home, doing all the things a young woman is supposed to do.  She bakes bread, she sweeps the floor, she goes to the well for water.


One day I [jump forward] suddenly appeared before her and said [shouting], “Rejoice, favored one!  The Lord is with you!”

[normal voice]  I may have gotten a little carried away with the suddenly-appeared part, because she was obviously afraid.


[quiet voice] I tried to calm her fears.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” I said.  “God is pleased with you.  You’re going to have a baby, a son, and you shall name him Jesus, He will grow up to be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High.”


[normal voice]  “How can that be?” you ask. [pause] I said, you ask “How can that be?” [get the children to say, “How can that be?”]  I’m so glad you asked.  I’ll tell you what I told Mary.  God’s Spirit will make it happen.  Remember, nothing is impossible for God.


Mary was quiet for a long time.  I could tell she was thinking about what I had told her.  Finally, she spoke.  “What did she say?” you ask [pause] I said, you ask “What did she say?” [get the children to say, “What did she say?”]  I’m so glad you asked.


[quiet voice] Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.  Let it be with me just as you have said.”


Narrator:        Thank you, Gabriel.  It was nice having you stop by this morning.


Gabriel:          It was my pleasure.  Bye, kids.  [exits, holding his arms out wide, moving among the children]


Narrator:        Well, that was exciting!  A real live angel.  And he had a pretty important message.  Just like Mary, we need to be ready to say, “Yes” to God when he has something for us to do.  Do think you can do that?  [allow the children to answer]  I knew you could.  I’ll see you back here next week.  [dismiss the children]


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