Neal Avenue United Methodist Church

Worship Guide for December 20, 2020; 4th Sunday of Advent

Preacher:  Eva Marie Wolfe

Liturgist:  Carol Powell

Lighting of the Advent Candles: John and Cindy Finney

Organist: Mary Ellen Strahm

Pianist: Sue Spiker

A/V: Dave Rauch, Randy Spiker, Jeff Wolfe, Jordan Wolfe

Hymn Leader: Angelique Gabrielle

Greeters: Elward Smith, George Cook

Church Bells Ring to Welcome All to Worship

Prelude: “Once In Royal David’s City” Cherwien

Welcome/Greetings                          Pastor Em

Threshold Moment: God commanded the Israelites to care for the strangers in their midst, to do better than Egypt had done for them when they were strangers in that land.  We also have a responsibility to those who are outsiders among us, remembering that we have been grafted onto the promise.  Once we were not God’s people, but now we experience the love of God through Jesus. 

Hear now God’s command to love the outsider, as God has loved us:

Threshold Scripture: Deuteronomy 10:17-19

17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (NRS)

Carol: Love Came Down at Christmas UMH 242

Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;

Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine;

Worship we our Jesus: But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token, Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all men, Love for plea and gift and sign.

Lighting of the Advent Candles: Clean-up Crew (adapted from Discipleship Ministries)

Reader One: Our lists are long, even in this strange mess where we live these days. And we want to do it right, we want to be safe, but we want to be able to enjoy the season. We’ve got work to do to put right what has gone wrong, to heal what is broken, to mend the relationships, and to prepare for the kingdom to come.  We have work to do to be able to love well.

Reader Two: The prophet Isaiah reminded us that there is work to be done. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When God comes in, then healing is to be found, but we need to make the way; we need to open the door into our lives.

Reader One: So, we light once again the candle of hope [light the purple candle across from the pink candle], the candle of peace [light a purple candle next to the first one lit], and the candle of joy [light the pink candle].  We light the fourth candle [light the final purple candle] as a sign of the love we receive from our God and the love we give to others.  We have faith that the God we worship is not far from us and that we can clear the way for God to come and dwell with us. We light these candles in love, in anticipation of the One who is coming!

Reader Two: Come to us, Emmanuel!

Prayer for Illumination:

Lord God, long ago you spoke to Joseph in dreams.  Speak to us today through your Word, and stir our hearts to listen and respond, as Joseph did, with urgency to follow your commands, wisdom to discern the paths to take, and trust in your providential care.

Scripture Lesson:  Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”…19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” (NRS)

The Word of God for the people of God

Thanks be to God

Message: Making Room in a Foreign Land              Pastor Em

Sharing our Joys and Concerns

On this final Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, and we ask for the blessings of the One who came to us in humility and weakness, and who reigns triumphant for all eternity. Now, we share our joys and concerns with formal prayers of supplication.  These prayers are based on what are called the “O” Antiphons, which are traditionally read between the verses of the carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior, we ask you to bring justice to our nations, our communities, and our countries.  Make us hunger and thirst for justice, especially justice for those whose voices are not heard. Be with our leaders, both in the church and in the world, and guide their decisions for the good of all.

God with us Our hope is in you

O Wisdom, who came forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, teach us to be prudent, that we may make wise decisions and seek after the highest ideals of righteousness.  God with us Our hope is in you

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flames of the bush and gave him the law on Sinai, come and with your outstretched arm redeem us.  Rescue us from both physical danger and mental distress. Protect us in this time of pandemic, and especially be with those who serve on the front lines, in medical establishments, retail and dining locations, and other places of increased exposure. God with us Our hope is in you

O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and to whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication, come and deliver us and tarry not.  Especially be a Savior to those who suffer from the increased incidences of mental health issues, domestic abuse, child abuse, drug overdoses, and other stressors made worse by the pandemic.

God with us Our hope is in you

O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no one shuts, who shuts, and no one opens: Come, and bring forth from prison the captive who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Especially be with those who mourn the loss of loved ones, and those near to death, as we silently lift up the names of those on our hearts. God with us Our hope is in you

O Dayspring, brightness of the light eternal and Sun of justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Be with those who suffer from illness and injury, as we silently lift up to you those whose names are on our hearts. God with us Our hope is in you

O King of the Gentiles and their Desired One, Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver us whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.  Bless our homes and our communities, and help us to rise up and be a blessing to others. God with us Our hope is in you

Merciful Savior, accept our prayers and lead us to your side. Amen.

And now, almighty and loving Father, we pray to you in words our Savior gave us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,

Thy kingdom come, thy 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 thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever.  Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Doxology UMH 94

Praise God from whom all blessing flow, Praise God all creatures here below. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Praise God the source of all our gifts, Praise Jesus Christ whose power uplifts

Praise the Spirit, Holy Spirit. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Closing Hymn: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing UMH 240

Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled”

Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies

With th’ angelic host proclaim: “Christ is born in Bethlehem”

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of  Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that we no more may die

Born to raise us from the earth, Born to give us second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”


Our Breakthrough Prayer for the Flame of Revival 

Lord, lead us by your Holy Spirit as we become agents of revival in our communities.  May we move more deeply into relationship with Jesus and draw your people to your light.  We give you all praise and glory.  Amen.

Dismissal Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Postlude: “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” Held