Lectionary - Advent 4

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Micah 5:2-5a Bethlehem ... from you shall come one who is to rule.
For the Psalm: Luke 1:47-55 The Magnificat: the song of Mary.
Or Psalm 80:1-7 Give ear, O shepherd of Israel.
Hebrews 10:5-10 ... sanctified through the offering of Christ once for all.
Luke 1:39-45 (46-55) Elizabeth greets Mary. "Blessed are you among women."

Christmas Eve [See separate services for Christmas Eve celebrations: (1) early evening carols with children (2) late evening/midnight Christmas Eucharist ]
Isaiah 9:2-7 a son is given to us ... Prince of Peace
Psalm 96 O sing to the Lord a new song ... all the earth
Titus 2:11-14 The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all
Luke 2:1-20 The birth of Jesus

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)
Hymns for Advent 4, Yr.C
lesson hymn TIS AHB SA
G All hail the power of Jesus' name 224 159
S Behold the mountain of the Lord 441 366
G Come thou long-expected Jesus 272 200
O Earth has many a noble city 291 216
G From heaven above to earth I come 296 219
O God! as with silent hearts we bring to mind 680
s Hark the glad sound! the Saviour comes 269 197
O/G Joy to the world! The Lord is come 268 224
G Let all mortal flesh keep silence 497 418
E/G Let earth and heaven combine 305 229
s Lift up your heads, you mighty gates 267
s Lord Christ when first you came to men 208
Ps Lord make us turn to you 42
E Master speak, thy servant heareth 597 516
Ca/G My soul gives glory to my God 172
G O come all ye faithful 304 228
G O come O come, Emmanuel 265 193
O O God of every nation 621
E O Jesus Saviour, grow in me 575 [489]
O O little town of Bethlehem 316 240
Ps O shepherd of Israel, hear us 42
Ca Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord 161 109
s The Lord will come and not be slow 194
G The people that in darkness walked 274 202
s There's a light upon the mountains 276 207
G To the Name of our salvation 127
E You we praise, high priest and victim 525 447
Ps Your hand O God, has guided 456 389

Other Possible Hymns (mainly Christmas Eve)
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)
Angels we have heard on high
Calypso Carol
The Lord's Messiah comes
The Three Kings
SA (TIS 283) 61 Long ago, prophets knew
237 (TIS 312) Once in royal David's city
236 (TIS 311) Silent night
223 (TIS 299) While shepherds watched their flocks by night
243 (TIS 317) Love came down at Christmas
225 (TIS 292) Infant holy, infant lowly
229 (TIS 305) Let earth and heaven combine
227 (TIS 303) Hark the herald angels sing
242 (TIS 318) Away in a manger
221 (TIS 301) The first nowell

Sermon summary (click here for complete sermon)

My spirit rejoices in God my saviour

Mary's song in praise of God has been an inspiration to all generations since that time when she rejoiced with her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:42) And Mary was moved to recognize the greatness of God in his mercy on a humble woman (Luke 1:46-48). Mary the mother of Jesus was indeed greatly blessed. She is often quite properly taken as an example to follow in loyalty and humble service. What we see here in her song the Magnificat is a woman of her people, the people of Israel, speaking more like a prophet or psalmist of previous generations.

The emphasis in Mary's words in not so much on herself as on the acts of God, as when with Moses they sang of God's mighty act rescuing them (Exodus 15:2). She is dancing in her spirit like King David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). You remember Abraham's wife Sarah who laughed at the idea of her having a child, and Rachel, Jacob's wife, who waited a long time, and in this story we have Mary's cousin Elizabeth who thought she could no longer have children. There is one big difference. Mary had done nothing and simply accepted God's chosen role for her. Her blessing was entirely God's initiative and in that way it is more clearly an act of grace. Yet there is much in the continuity of faithful witness to God. Mary's song seems to be modelled on the song of Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel, (1 Samuel 2:1). There is a similar insight in the cause both women, Hannah and Mary, have for rejoicing in the regard that God has for the poor and lowly, (1 Samuel 2:3-4; 7-8; Luke 1:51-53) Mary's child will carry on the tradition of the prophets who cried out for justice.(Luke 6:20-21; Luke 7:22).

Mary's song goes further than Hannah's when she declares that in her blessing the long held promises of God to his people are being brought to fulfilment (Luke 1:54-55). Her blessing was more than a personal blessing, it was for all the people whom she represented. It is because the action of God goes far beyond her limited knowledge and her particular place and time that she is able to say, Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

Mary is in many ways truly representative of humanity. In her lowly estate, from which she is lifted up, she represents all of us in the human situation in general, and thus points to the uplifting, redeeming initiative of God. Mary has been the focus of faith and hope for millions of poor women. Through her God has given them what no one can take away: a deep assurance that their humble status does not preclude them from enjoying the greatest of God's blessings. One can hardly celebrate how God, through her, lifted up the lowly and then not value the least of God's children; so the human response of praise continues in both word and deed. The humble part Mary was called to play, fits, as all our lives fit, into the great plan and purpose of God at last brought to a decisive point in the gift of Jesus Christ. For this reason, because we have a part in it, we can all rejoice with her when Mary sings, My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

Order of Service - Advent 4 Year C - | DB Home | RCL Resources Index |

[Note: This service leans more towards Advent than Christmas Eve, although aspects of both are included. There are separate services for Christmas Eve celebrations: (1) early evening carols (2) late evening/midnight Christmas Eucharist ]

The Gathering of the People of God

CALL TO WORSHIP
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

HYMN Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord TIS 161 AHB 109

LIGHTING THE ADVENT CANDLES: Fourth Sunday

[A family group or individual comes to the table and one reads:]

On this fourth Sunday in Advent we remember Mary, the bearer of the light of the world.

[Four coloured candles are lit, and reading continues.]

Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Luke 1:38

Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Luke 1:42

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." Luke 1:46-47

PRAYER OF ADORATION
Loving and eternal God as Mary praised you so would we, for we have received a great blessing through your blessing of her. We celebrate the gift of a saviour saying with her "My spirit rejoices in God my saviour", for your saving nature was shown to us and put into effect in the life, death and resurrection of Mary's son Jesus, our God and Saviour. As you lifted her up from her lowly estate you gave hope to countless generations who have called her blessed. In the power of the Spirit which came upon her we worship you for the gift her son, Jesus Christ. All glory to you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

CONFESSION
With shame we confess our pride which hides the light of your blessing of the poor and humble. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Forgive us for the lack of regard we have your nature as one saves, and let us see more clearly how your saving grace was embodied in Jesus Christ. Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
For our lack of response in praise through word and deed under the guidance of the Spirit, we humbly seek your forgiveness O God. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS
God forgives all those who truly repent and turn to him. Hear then Christ's word of grace, 'Your sins are forgiven'.
Thanks be to God

DOXOLOGY: (Hymn TIS 771, AHB 576)
Now to him who loved us, gave us
every pledge that love could give,
freely shed his blood to save us,
gave his life that we might live,
be the kingdom, and dominion,
and the glory evermore.

WELCOME AND GREETING EACH OTHER

Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: praise to God our saviour.
OLD TESTAMENT Micah 5:2-5a Bethlehem ... from you shall come one who is to rule.
For the PSALM - THE MAGNIFICAT (The song of Mary Luke 1:46-55)
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

EPISTLE Hebrews 10:5-10 ... sanctified through the offering of Christ once for all.
GOSPEL Luke 1:39-45 (46-55) Elizabeth greets Mary. "Blessed are you among women."
HYMN Come thou long-expected Jesus TIS 272 AHB 200

SERMON
HYMN Let earth and heaven combine TIS 305 AHB 229

OFFERING AND DEDICATION
SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
COLLECT FOR THE DAY
Let us pray (as Advent draws to a close for the faith that opens our lives to the Spirit of God):
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory, and open our hearts to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN Joy to the world! The Lord is come TIS 268 AHB 224
WORD OF MISSION
BLESSING
DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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