This Week’s Theme
The Lord Has Visited His People
This praise of Zechariah known as “the Benedictus,” exalts God for his timely and gracious intervention on behalf of his people. Filled with both quotations and references to the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament), Zechariah praises the God of Israel because he has come to his people and redeemed them, raising a horn of salvation for them in the house of David his servant, which was testified by the prophets long ago. Now, through the mercies of God he is saving his people from their enemies, remembering his holy covenant sworn to Abraham, that they might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness. Zechariah’s son, John the Baptizer, is the prophet of the Most High, who will go before Messiah to prepare the way for him. The Christ will come and give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, and God will shine his light upon them and guide them into paths of peace.
This lovely and inspiring song summarizes God’s tender mercy to remember his word, to deliver his people, and provide for them a Savior who will transform them under the rule and reign of God. In this Annunciation week of Advent, let us declare and affirm that the compassion of God will soon finally be revealed on the earth, working on behalf of God’s people for deliverance, rescue, and peace.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
O God, Father of mercies, Who didst so love the world that upon Him for us men and for our salvation, grant to us who, by His first coming, have been called into Thy Kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in Him, and be found watching and ready when He shall come again to call us to Thy Kingdom of glory; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
~ Rev. H. Stobart, Nineteenth Century (Fox, p. 211)
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Sunday: Gen. 25; 1 Chron. 1.28-34
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Luke 1.68-79*
OT: Mal. 3.1-4
Gospel: Luke 3.1-6
NT: Phil. 1.3-11
* In a very few instances in the Lectionary, no Psalm reading is offered for reasons relating to the thematic nature of the day.
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
O LORD Jesus Christ, Who at Thy first coming, didst warn us to prepare for the day when Thou shalt come to be our Judge, mercifully grant that, being awake from the sleep of sin, we may be always watching and intent upon the work that Thou has given us to do; Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
~ Rev. W. E. Scudamore, A.D. 1850. (Fox, p. 211)
Affirmation for the Day
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has come and redeemed his people.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Enable us, O God, to remember your compassion and goodness, your covenant faithfulness which you remembered in sending your Son to earth to save Adam’s race from their sins.
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Lord Has Visited His People
Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism