Welcome to the Sunday Gathering recap (songs, hymns, liturgy and sermon). This blog gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you heard in the gathering or catch up if you weren’t able to be with us.
*The indented sections are responses read aloud by the congregation during the Gathering
HIDDEN CHRISTMAS - The Birth
CALL TO WORSHIP
This is the first gathering in our Advent series. The season of Advent, is a season of waiting, it's designed to cultivate our awareness of God’s actions—past, present, and future. In Advent we heighten our anticipation for the ultimate fulfilment of all Old Testament promises. In this way Advent highlights for us the larger story of God’s redemptive plan. While we remember Israel’s waiting and hoping and we give thanks for Christ’s birth, we also anticipate his second coming at the end of time It is a season of expectation of anticipation. The coming birth of our Saviour, Jesus was foretold to the people of Israel and to a world, who like us now, was longing for a Saviour to bring relief from the suffering and sin: Hear these words from the prophet Isaiah:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
In Jesus, God has promised to be with us. Let's sing out together now in celebration of that truth and in anticipation.
Song: O Come O Come Emmanuel
Song: O Come All Ye Faithful
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
When we remember and celebrate Jesus coming into this world, we are humbled to remember why he came. One of the truths of the gospel is that humanity was in need of rescue. The prophet Isaiah says that the people of Israel were walking in darkness, in need of light. The same is true of us today. Without God, we are in darkness, in need of Christ's light. Our sin enslaves us and we need a rescuer. The promise of the gospel is that Jesus came to save us from our sins. We no longer need to feel weighed down by our sin, instead we can know the freedom that comes in Christ. Let's pray these words, thanking God for this truth together now.
Father God, thank you that even though we were once walking in darkness, you shone your light into our lives. Thank you that in sending Jesus, you brought light and life into this world.
We praise you that the darkness could not overcome his light. We ask that you would deal with our darkness this Christmas and help us to live in the light you bring. Amen.
Song: You Alone Can Rescue
PASSING OF THE PEACE
PREACHING OF THE WORD
Pete Petra from North Church Leicester opened our Advent sermon series by preaching to us from Matthew 1:18-23. Click here to listen to that sermon.
Every week we want to respond to what God has done for us in Jesus. One of the great ways he has provided for us to remember the truth of the gospel is giving us communion. As we take the bread and wine we remember what Jesus has done for us.
POST COMMUNION READING
Jesus’ death brings us life and this meal reminds us that we are fed by Jesus and forgiven because of Jesus.
We rejoice that You have died, rose again, and are now with the Father advocating for us. Amen.
With our money, time, and talent we give generously, knowing that through Your Son, Jesus, You have generously given to us.
We rejoice that You have given everything and we joyfully give everything back to Your care. Amen.
Song: Here is Love
Song: Jesus is the Lord of All
The birth of Jesus is a key part of what we believe as Christians. One thing we sometimes like to do as a church is affirm our faith and what we believe by reading the Apostle's Creed together. The Apostle's creed is a summary of what the church believes and teaches.
As we say the Creed, we join Christians past and present, and from all over the world, in proclaiming our common faith. You'll notice the word 'catholic' is used which simply means the 'whole church' and is not referring to Roman Catholic here. So when we say I believe in the catholic church we mean that every follower of Jesus is a member of The church.
Would you like to join with me in reading these words together:
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; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there 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.
Song: This I Believe
In this season of advent, may God’s light shine in your darkness. May the spirit open your eyes to see his coming, and may Jesus’ glory captivate your hearts this season. Go in hope of the peace he brings to the world.
Peace be with you.
And also with you.