24 December 2023
Lessons & Carols
God Invites Us To Gather
Words of Welcome
Welcome to worship here at Maple Grove United in Oakville Ontario I’m Rev. Jessica McCrae and I’m so glad that you have come home to Maple Grove this Christmas. This morning is Advent 4 – the Advent of love. And we will be celebrating the love coming to us through lessons and carols this morning. Tonight of course is Christmas eve and we have our instant pageant at 6:30 … please encourage the little ones in your life to come dressed as an angel, a shepherd or a wise man or woman we would love to have them help us bring the story to life! Adult participation with them is also welcomed!
At 9pm we will have our traditional service with carols, candles, communion and a sermon.
All are welcome!
There are so many people who have made this service today possible.
Thanks to our musicians Dr. Deborah Henry, Eran Rozen, Pat McKee on guitar (Ron on trumpet? Patty on drums?) our choir
- Laura McLaughlin
- Pat Thompson
- Arnaud Painvin
- Gord Penley
- Barb Duffin
- Greeters Bob and Dianne Trodds
- Sound is John and Charlotte on livestreaming
Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship as we listen to our prelude.
Acknowledgment of the Land
For our land acknowledgement through Advent we have been singing the new words to the Huron Carol known as Twas In The Moon of Wintertime. The rewritten words speak to the the culture and stories of the Huron people. We acknowledge the many cultures and languages among the indigenous people of this land and seek to live in respect and right relationship. Let us sing the Wendat Carol.
Hymn: The Wendat Carol
Advent Candle Lighting – the Candle of Love Craig and Laura McLaughlin
We wait as people who have encountered divine Love that disrupts the status quo and ushers us into abundant life marked by mutual love and peace that flows from the flourishing of all people.
We light these candles as signs of our shocking hope, our just peace, our fierce joy, and the love that transforms us. May Love grow within us, transforming us into bold witnesses of God’s promise of new life with our voices and our lives. Amen.
Sung Response: Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New. MV 115
Call to Worship
(based on Isaiah 12:5-6)
Sing praises to God on high, for glorious are God’s works.
Sing praises to the ends of the earth.
Shout and sing for joy, O people of God,
For great is the Holy One in our midst.
Blessed is the One who comes to dwell among us.
Let us worship God!
*Hymn: Once in Royal David’s City. VU 62
Prayer of Approach
God with us, You came to us long ago as a helpless baby, as one in need of human love and care. You taught us how to love and care for one another. Help us to hold on to childlike wonder, amazement, and love, and help us to love one another all year long. Guide our feet into the way of peace, fill our hearts with abundant love, enough to share. Help us find joy in this life and community you have given us, and give us hope God, to know that just as you came to us so long ago in Bethlehem you continue to come to us this day. In the name of Christ, Emmanuel, God with Us, we pray and in words he taught us we say
Hallowed be your name
Your kindom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
for yours is the kindom
The power and the glory
Forever and ever
FIRST LESSON (Pat Thompson) Christ’s Birth Foretold by Isaiah
A Reading from the prophet Isaiah
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders,
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Great will be his authority,[a]
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
CAROL VU 10 Prepare the Way of the Lord.
SECOND LESSON (Laura McLaughlin)
The Angel Gabriel Visits
From the Gospel of Luke chapter 1
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[a] 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[b] 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[c] will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
CAROL O Lord How Shall I Meet You. VU 31
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God, so loving, bending gently to our hearts,
Wrapping us round with blessing:
What is it in us that stifles our joy?
That blocks us from sharing love?
What is it about us that stills the words of praise on our lips?
What goes on among us that prevents from celebrating the hope that we know, or building the peace we know is possible?
Perhaps we have become incapable of wonder,
Too sophisticated to notice the throbbing glory of the winter sunrise,
Too busy to contemplate the galaxy of order within the snowflake.
Perhaps we’ve come to take your blessings for granted
Presuming it is a right, when really it is a gift.
Perhaps we no longer look to see your gracious hand at work within our world.
Or see you in the face of another.
Perhaps God we are afraid.
Each of us knows the challenges that stand in our way,
The mistakes that we have made.
And so we pray in a moment’s silence,
Acknowledging our fault, and seeking your forgiveness …
Lord, have mercy.
Sung Respond: Wait for the Lord VU 22
WORDS OF ASSURANCE OF PARDON
This Advent journey is about making room in our hearts for the birth of the Christ child. Find comfort in the assurance that God hears our prayers and will work with us to remove all that blocks our hearts from knowing joy, sharing love, living with hope and building peace. Know that we are forgiven and loved, and that abundant life is preparing to be born again in our hearts. Thanks be to God. Amen.
HYMN VU#64 O Little Town of Bethlehem tune Forest Green #530
THIRD LESSON (Arnaud Painvin)
Telling of the Birth of Jesus
From the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.[a]
CAROL City of David
FOURTH LESSON (Barb Duffin)
The Shepherds go to the Manger
Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[b] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[c] praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”[d]
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger.
CAROL. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks. VU 75
FIFTH LESSON (Gord Penley)
The Magi are Led by the Star
Matthew 2: 1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east[b] and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him, 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah[c] was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah,
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd[d] my people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out, and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen in the east,[f] until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped,[g] they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
CAROL. Past 3 a Clock
A LITANY FOR OUR JOURNEY
One: From the plains of Persia
Magi journey to Jerusalem,
guided by a beckoning star.
To further their search, they asked,
“Where is the child born to be king?
We have seen his star…and have come.”
All: To be truly wise
is to search for whatever is coming to birth:
a new beginning yet unseen,
a fresh possibility for potential,
or a new life which God labours to bring to birth.
One: “The Magi found the child…they knelt down…
and offered gifts.”
All: May our gifts be a sign
as were the gifts of the Magi;
that wisdom is marked
by an offering of ourselves and substance
to the Christ.
One: The Magi returned to their own country…
by another route.”
All: God, you come to us and meet us
in the strangest ways;
and we cannot return to our same ways again.
Help us to make the changes,
and bring us to places of openness
and love toward you and the people around us.
Our Response to God
Offering: In response to the joy we have known, like the wise ones who gave their gifts, our offering will now be received.
Offertory Music: In The Bleak Midwinter (v. 4) VU 55
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him – give my heart.
Waiting, watching God, we have heard your call to give ourselves in love, to make room for hope, peace, joy, and love to be born into our world.
Like the wise men we answer that call with these, the gifts of our lives, our time, our money and our prayers. We offer these in sincere hope that comfort and joy may be brought to life in this world.
Accept these gifts we pray.
Prayers of the People
We praise you God of love
And give you thanks that you chose to be born among us
To live our life with all of its human frailties and challenges,
All of its joys and wonder.
We thank you for the miracles of courage and faith and trust
That we see in Joseph and Mary
The shepherds who first hear the news,
The Magi who trusted …
Help us God to have the courage and wisdom to see you alive among us here and now
Help us to imagine the Christmas story unfolding on an Oakville Street,
The star shining through the clouds in our own night sky.
Help us to imagine the Christ child seeking warmth in this church, in our own homes.
In the midst of this time of celebration we know that some of us have heaviness on our hearts and worries that won’t let go
and so we ask that you hear us as we pray for ourselves and others;
We pray for those who are grieving,
and those whose grief is brought again to the surface,
we pray for those living with uncertainty
those awaiting medical tests
Those who are recovering from surgery and those receiving treatments.
We pray for those who are lonely, afraid, and filled with anxieties
Those who are struggling with the realities of the economic strains of this time,
We pray for those who are praying for new beginnings
and those who are forced along paths that they would not choose to follow.
This day God we pray for all who are praying for a miracle.
Be with all who are in need this day God and fill them with your strength.
Shine your light for us all as we make our way to Bethlehem and the promise of your hope.
We make our prayers in the name of the baby awaiting to be born, who will be our Messiah, our Saviour, our Christ. Amen.
*Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. VU 48
May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child.
Blessings of God, Creator, Christ and Spirit bless you now and forever. Amen.
Sung Blessing: Joy to the World. VU 59