This Week’s Theme
He Shall Be Their Peace
This fourth week of Advent highlights the arrival of the Messiah in the world, the birth of he who is to become Israel’s Ruler, bringing salvation and hope to his people. In this passage Micah addresses the little town of Bethlehem-Ephrathah, a village several miles from Jerusalem. An older name for Bethlehem and the surrounding area was Ephrathah (or also Ephrath, Gen. 35.16-19; 48.7). There was nothing striking about this little town, as Micah recounts, it was “small among the clans of Judah” (v. 2). Still, it held place in Jewish lore since David was born in Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16.1, 18-19; 17.12).
Yet, though small and insignificant, out of this village would come for the LORD the one who was destined to the Messiah-Ruler, the one anointed by God to deliver his people, the very one, too, who would become Israel’s “Ruler” whose origins (lit., “goings out,”) are from old, from ancient times, literally “from days of eternity.” Amazingly, the one for whom Israel waited, whose “goings out” in creation, in theophanies, and in salvation promise have been from “days of immeasurable time” (NIV translation), is none other than the babe of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ. He will shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, and his people will dwell securely in his kingdom rule that reaches to the ends of the earth.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Show us, O Lord, thy glory shining through the veil of our flesh, and reveal unto us the lowliness and gentleness of Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, and took upon him the form of a servant, that he might deliver us from every bondage, and enrich us with the treasures of thy grace. Amen.
~ Roman Missal (Ferguson, p. 31)
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
Thursday: Job 26-29
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Ps. 80.1-7
OT: Mic. 5.2-5a
Gospel: Luke 1.39-55
NT: Heb. 10.5-10
* 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 Son of God, who once camest in weakness to restore us: free us from all remaining bonds of our error and unbelief, that we may await thy mighty Advent without fear. And when thou comest, seeking thy kingdom within us, constrain us, O Christ, to open wide the gates, and to yield up the keys of our life unto thee; that thy power may be our power, and our wills be thine, and thy will be done, O Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Saviour. Amen.
~ The Priest’s Prayer Book (Ferguson, p. 20)
Affirmation for the Day
In the global kingdom in which he rules, the Messiah will be its peace.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
O God, we welcome the arrival of your King-Messiah into the world, the one whom you have chosen to be Savior and Lord over your people and the nations, Jesus our Lord.
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Lord Has Visited His People
Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism