Liturgy / Dec 17, 2017


God, who is Mighty, and Holy, and King over everything, bids you come to him!
How can we approach this God? For we are sinners, and lost in utter darkness!

Our mighty King has humbled himself. He has come after you,
and has even crawled into the darkness with you. 
No mighty work compares to this!
Our God is for us, we need not be afraid!

God invites you to his own table, as his own guest.
He offers you his friendship. He offers you himself.
We will come and enjoy this feast!
For we who are sinners have been honored as guests of our Lord Jesus!



Father, thank you for Advent and the gift of your son Jesus.

We pray for those in the world who are suffering; God of all mercy… hear our prayer.

We pray for the many people in our city longing for hope; God of all mercy...  hear our prayer.

We thank you that Emmanuel has made all things new; God of all mercy…  hear our prayer.

We pray for families as they travel and gather together; God of all mercy…  hear our prayer.

Would you prepare our spirits for worship this morning; God of all mercy…  hear our prayer.

Father, we trust that your mercy was made known in Jesus. We love you. Amen.

Now, the outward works of love are very great, as when we place our goods in the service of another. But the greatest is this, that I surrender my own righteousness and make it serve for the sins of my neighbor. For, outwardly to render service and help by means of one’s goods is love only in its outward aspect; but to render help and service through one’s righteousness, that is something great and pertains to the inward man. This means that I must love the sinner and be his friend, must be opposed to his sins and earnestly rebuke them, yet I must love him with all my heart as to cover his sins with my righteousness.
— Martin Luther

Jesus Christ, our strange king, was the friend of sinners. Tax collectors, prostitutes, and social outcasts were drawn to Him to hear about the Kingdom of God. This King not only received the "dregs of society" and ate with them, but reached out and invited them to follow him. What's astounding is that being God Incarnate, Jesus is God's Holiness or Righteousness Incarnate. What may have attracted sinners was their experiencing, in Jesus, God's authentic Righteousness, in contrast to the perverted caricature of it the Pharisees displayed. Righteousness was now a Person who proclaimed mercy not judgment, and came not to condemn, but to seek and save that which was lost. Christians are Christ's Body, indwelt by, and united to Him, who is True Eternal Righteousness. Our Strange King invites us, then, to be His welcoming and forgiving Righteousness, the very Righteousness of God enfleshed, to the broken, fallen world of outcasts around us."



** Our kids acted out the nativity story as our Prayer of Confession for this week!

Narrator: "In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. Joseph, a descendent of King David, went up from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of David. And with him Mary, who was with child."

Narrator: "And when the fullness of time had come, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. And the Light of lights entered darkness. The Ageless One knew our age. Life himself stepped toward the grave."

O Prince of Peace, we despise our frailty and seek escape; but you embraced weakness without complaint; you were a nobody for our sake.

Narrator: "And in the same region, there were shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear."

Angel: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

Narrator: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God."

Angels: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all."

O Prince of Peace, we take up arms and defend our rights; but angels sang of peace that night; and you, a lamb, laid down you life.

Narrator: "When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another."

Shepherd 1: "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us."

Narrator: "And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. And she called the baby Jesus as an angel had told her.

O Prince of Peace, we seek life in lofty things; but Mary found glory in a trough for pigs; she treasured the holy, her baby, her king.

Narrator: "And when the time came for the child's purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. And there was a man in Jerusalem name Simeon waiting to see the Lord's Christ, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God."

Simeon: "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed, so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

O Prince of Peace, we receive our own and neglect the other; but at great cost, you called enemies brothers; and sinners like us, your bride, your lover.

Narrator: "Now after Jesus was born, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem."

Wise man 1: "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

Narrator: "When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and he inquired of the scribes where the Christ was to be born."

Scribe 1: "He is to be born in Bethlehem, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people."

Narrator: "The wise men made their way to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesus. And going inside, they saw the child with his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him."

O Prince of Peace, we make war against your rule; but earth and star must bend to you; let the nations be glad; or play the fool.