Worship Service

Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 20, 2020)

Service for the Worship of God

If you have already made a pledge for 2021, thank you. If not, you are invited to join us to pledge online or send a pledge to the church office.

Click here for a print-friendly version of the bulletin.


Prelude on “Ave Maria”
—Flor Peeters (1903–1986)

Rev. Ann Herlin

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us worship God!

Preparing to Hear God’s Word

Call to Worship and Lighting of the Advent Wreath
The Matney Family

“Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, Rejoice.”
The world says, “Worry,”
and we say, “Rejoice.”
The news says, “Fear,”
and we say, “Rejoice.”
The world says, “Be happy,”
and the church says, “Be faithful.”

As we light our third Advent candle,
We pray for hope, peace, and joy.
Come now, O Child of Mary.
Come now, O Prince of Joy.

HYMN 120
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

des ist ein’ ros’

1. Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung,
of Jesse’s lineage coming,
by faithful prophets sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night.

2. Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
the rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
she bore for us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.

3. This flower, whose fragrance tender
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor
the darkness everywhere.
Enfleshed, yet very God,
from sin and death he saves us
and lightens every load.

Prayer of Confession
Rev. Katherine A. Stanford

An angel spoke to Mary: “Do not be afraid!” And yet, O Lord, we find ourselves paralyzed by fear of what we do not know. Forgive us of our sins and give us the faith of Mary to respond to your grace with lives of grateful praise. Let us hear the good news that she first heard: Light is breaking. Love is coming. The world is about to turn! Hear now the prayers we bring to you in silence …

Assurance of Pardon

God’s Word to Us


Ave Maria
—Attrib. to Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548–1611), possibly by Jacob Handl Gallus (c. 1550–1591)
Performed by the Meeting House Virtual Choir
Traditional prayer based on Luke 1:28 and 1:42

Scripture Lesson
Dr. Robert R. Laha

Luke 1:26–38

Time with Children
The Carl Family

Dr. Robert R. Laha
“Model Disciple”

Our Response to God

Affirmation of Faith
Mrs. Mary Pratt Perry
Adapted from A Declaration of Faith (1977)

Jesus, the long expected Savior, came into the world as a child, descending from David, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of Mary. He announced to his people the coming of God’s kingdom of justice and righteousness.

We affirm that Jesus was born of woman as is every child, yet born of God’s power as was no other child. In the person and work of Jesus, God and human life are united but not confused, distinguished but not separated. The coming of Jesus was itself the coming of God’s promised rule. Through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, he brings about the relationship between God and humanity that God always intended.

Invitation to Discipleship
Rev. Katherine A. Stanford

Presentation of Our Tithes and Offerings

Christmas Joy Offering

Each year during the Advent and Christmas season, we turn our eyes to Bethlehem and celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

God has blessed the Church with incredible leadership in every time and place, but those leaders often need to be supported by their communities as well. This special offering addresses that need within the Presbyterian church, by providing funds for leadership development within communities of color, as well as for pastors and other church workers in their time of need.

Prayer of the People and The Lord’s Prayer
Rev. Ann Herlin

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 100
My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout (Canticle of the Turning)

star of county down

1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
so from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn.

2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
and your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.

3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
there are tables spread, every mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.

4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forbears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
till the spear and rod be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.

Charge and Benediction
Dr. Robert R. Laha

Choral Response

—Wendy Matney
Performed by the Meeting House Virtual Choir


“Amen” from Vêpres du Commun des Fêtes de la Sainte Vierge
—Marcel Dupré (1886–1971)

To learn more about today’s choir and organ music, click here for detailed notes from Musical Director and Organist Dr. Steven Seigart.