Gathering Music - “To Wonder and Worship - Jan Green (by James Southbridge)
Welcome to the Mantua Center Christian Church on this 3rd Sunday in Advent---the Sunday of JOY!
We are a community seeking to have open minds, open hearts, and open arms, building community in a fragmented world. We want to welcome everyone who is in the house today and everyone online. We are grateful for all the many ways you can join us for worship on this Lord’s Day.
In worship today…we reflect together more on the words of John the Baptist--the forerunner of the Gospel. Can we with Joy….make a Home for All? What might it require of us?
Scripture Reading - Romans 15:5-7
5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
*Response - Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
*Call to Worship - Katie Baird
ONE: A voice calls out in the wilderness.
ALL: It sings of a home for all. It speaks of justice and peace.
ONE: We could choose to ignore it.
ALL: We could drown out that song.
We could choose not to listen.
ONE: Instead, we come into this space.
ALL: We let the world grow quiet. We listen.
ONE: A voice calls out in the wilderness. Do you hear it?
ALL: We hear it. In listening, we worship.
With joy, let us draw near to God.
*Advent Candle Lighting - Fred & Cheryl Delaney
A: Joy is seeing people you love after months apart.
B: Joy is hearing, “Come on over, it has been too long!”
A: Joy is the stretches and giggles of a newborn child.
B: Joy is making it home when the journey is long.
A: Joy is your dog sliding to meet you at the door.
B: Joy is the energy of a new season.
A: Joy is feeling found when you thought you were lost.
B: So today we light the candle of joy, because the welcome God has for us is nothing short of joyful.
A: Rest in that good news. Let it wash over you.
B: Family of faith, we are close to home. Amen.
*Opening Hymn - Let All Mortal Flesh Stay Silent #124
1 Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
Offering of Praise - Katie Baird
The people asked John, “What should we do?”
I’ve asked myself that a million times in my life.
How do I make a difference?
Can I really do anything that could help this hurting world?
Is it already too late? Is it already too big?
It can feel overwhelming at times, but John says, “If you have two coats, give one away.”
It’s all that easy, and it’s all that hard.
So friends, let us give our tithes and our offerings now, knowing that these gifts help build a world where all have a home—where all are welcomed, fed, loved, and known.
What should we do? We should give what we have.
It’s all that easy and all that hard.
God who welcomes us home, who creates space,
who leaves a chair with our name on it—
we have two coats and we are giving one away.
That’s what this offering is.
It’s our second coat.
It’s our hearts on our sleeves.
It’s our audacious hope that there can indeed be a better world than this one.
So take these gifts and use them to move us closer to that promised day.
Gratefully we pray, amen.
Children’s Moment - Ally Bozeka
This is what happened when John the Baptist was preaching in the desert: “The people asked John, ‘What should we do?’ John answered, ‘If you have two shirts, share with the person who does not have one. If you have food, share that too.’ And John continued to preach the Good News, saying many other things to encourage the people." —Luke 3:10-11, 18 (ICB)
I wonder whether the people who heard John went and did what he told them. I wonder if you’ve ever shared your things. I wonder what it feels like when you share. I wonder what it feels like when people share with you. I wonder if your family or your church ever shares with you. I wonder how we could make sure everybody has what they need.
The good news is that we get to help each other create God’s home for all people by sharing our food, our clothes, our time, our space, and our love, because God’s home is a home for everybody.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for giving us what we need. Help us to share so that the world can be a home where everybody is included, fed, housed, clothed, listened to, and loved. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Pastoral Prayer - Rev. Chad Delaney
Meditation - Drema Herron
Communion Hymn - All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly #419 v.2
1 All who hunger gather gladly;
holy manna is our bread.
Come from wilderness and wand’ring.
Here in truth we will be fed.
You that yearn for days of fullness,
all around us is our food.
Taste and see the grace eternal.
Taste and see that God is good.
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer - Drema Herron
Words of Institution Rev. Chad Delaney
Distribution of communion elements
Prayer of Illumination
God, whose love is like the sun warming me from the inside,
if you are my home,then your word is the street light guiding me there.
So I want you to know—I am walking your way, we are walking your way,
and we are looking for a light.
And our feet are dirty—we’ve lost our way a time or two.
And our bags are heavy—
we’re carrying an array of grief and fear on our backs.
But we’re on our way. We’re looking for your light.
We’re listening for your word.
When you see us coming, when you feel our hearts move,
we hope you’ll run down the driveway and catch us.
Leave the light on. We are on our way home. Gratefully we pray, amen.
Scripture Reading - Luke 3:7-18
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ 14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Sermon - JOY: A Home for All - Rev. Chad Delaney
Closing Hymn - Hark, the Herald Angels Sing #150
1 Hark! the herald-angels sing, "Glory to the new-born King;
peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark, the herald-angels sing, "Glory to the new-born King!"
*Benediction Rev. Chad Delaney
As you leave this service, your service begins:
Comfort the homesick.
Open your doors to others.
Be brave enough to go home by another way.
And remember that here in God’s house, all are welcomed—so come back soon.
In the name of our Foundation—Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit— go in peace.
Departing Music - “Voluntary on Two Carols” - Jan Green (By David Kidwell)