Here Comes God! - Micah 1

An Advent service plan focused on introducing the book of Micah with not only the judgment, but also the hope and grace pronounced by Micah, which we are reminded of during Advent. This is part of a series on Micah and the hope that he pronounced.

Micah's Hope

This series of worship services explores the season of Advent through the eyes of the prophet Micah.

Theme of the Service

One of the intents of this worship service is to introduce both the season of Advent and the book of Micah. The comments above explain the theme of Advent.

The theme of Micah is very consistent with the spirit of Advent. Micah prophesied somewhere between 750 and 686 B.C. and therefore was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. He was on the scene during a time of idolatry, injustice and empty religion in Israel and Judah. His task was to pronounce God's judgment on sinful behavior and his delight to pardon those who are repentant.

As such, Micah's message, though often sounding the note of judgment, is fundamentally a message of hope in God's grace. His core intent is to present a wake-up call to the people of God that they might receive grace.

 

We Gather in the Presence of God

Prelude: "Of the Father's Love Begotten" [see music notes]
The Call to Worship: [see liturgy notes]

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
As we worship today,
let us prepare to welcome God’s dramatic work in our midst,
in our hearts, in our community, and in all of creation.
Let us worship God.
—based on Isaiah 40:3, NRSV (TWS, D.1.2.2)

or:

Introit: “Prepare Ye”, Robinson [see music notes]

*God's Greeting and Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Of the Father's Love Begotten PH 309:1, PsH 342:1, 3, RL 190:1, RN 252:1, TH 162:1, TWC 145:1, UMH 184:1

We Are Renewed in God's Grace

The Call to Confession:

Prepare the way of the Lord!
Let us make our confessions to God. (TWS D.2.1.1)

Our Prayer of Confession:
 

While we ask, Lord, for the most meaningful Advent season ever,
we sadly confess having done so little with so much.
Forgive us, Lord,
for not bending the knee,
for not reading your Word,
for not searching our hearts,
for not facing our sins.
Forgive us according to your tender mercies, O God!
Grant that when Christmas morning breaks for us this year,
we may have a fresh sense of your presence
and a renewed resolve to live to the praise of Christ's glory. Amen. (TWS D.2.2.8)

The Assurance of God's Pardon:

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.
Your sins are pardoned.
The penalty is paid.
Thanks be to God.
—based on Isaiah 40:1, 2 (TWS D.2.4.2)

Sung Response: "Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!" RN 139, SNC 44:3, WOV 612 [see music notes]

Lighting the Advent Candles: [see liturgy notes for an explanation of Advent Candles]

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world;
the one who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
We light this candle as a sign of the coming light of Christ.

(The first of the Advent Candles is lit.)

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.
—Isaiah 9:2, NRSV

Come, Lord Jesus, our light and our salvation.
Let us walk in the light of the Lord. (TWS, D.1.4.27)

Let us hear God's Call to Live in the Light - Ephesians 5:8-10, 15-17

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

*Song: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" RN 152:1-3, SNC 77:1-3, TWC 539:1-3, UMH 206:1-3, WOV 649

God Speaks to Us Through His Word

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Micah 1:1-7

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "Here Comes God!"
Text - Micah 1:2-3

The Prayer of Application

We Respond to God's Word

*Song: "The People Who in Darkness Walked" PsH 192

*A Litany of Hope:

Does God continue to deal with his world in judgment?
While justly angry God did not turn his back on a world bent on destruction;
he turned his face to it in love.
With patience and tender care he set out on the long road of redemption
to reclaim the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom.
And has God always remained faithful to his promise?
God remembered his promise to reconcile the world to himself;
he has come among us in Jesus Christ, the eternal Word made flesh.
He is the long-awaited Savior, fully human and fully divine,
conceived by the Spirit of God and born of the virgin Mary.
And what is our hope for the future?
Our hope for a new earth is not tied to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day every challenge to God's rule
and every resistance to his will shall be crushed.
Then his kingdom shall come fully, and our Lord shall rule forever.
—from "Our World Belongs to God", arts. 19, 24, 56

The Pastoral Prayer

The Offertory:

The offering of music: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" [see music notes]
or Offertory Anthem: “When God’s Time Had Ripened”, Fedak
The offering of our gifts

We Go Out with New Hope

*Song: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" PH 9:1, PsH 328:1,7, RL 184:1, 7, SFL 123:1, TH 194:1, TWC 133:1, UMH 211:1

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "The People Who in Darkness Walked" [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Liturgy Notes

1. Be careful to make the intent of the Advent season clear. Don't hurry into Christmas too quickly: Advent is preparation; Christmas is celebration.

2. In both the Call to Worship and the Offertory, we suggest two different approaches.

3. Many congregations include the lighting of the Advent Candles as an integral part of their Advent observances in order to prepare for the coming of Christ. The Worship Sourcebook describes the Advent Candle lighting this way:

"The lighting of Advent candles dramatically depicts the growing expectation we have for the coming of Christ, the light of the world. This action most often functions as a call to worship, but it can also function as a response to the assurance of pardon or to the sermon. The traditional Advent wreath has four purple candles (lit on the four Sundays of Advent) grouped around a white Christ candle (lit on Christmas Day). The main symbolism portrayed by the wreath is the growing intensity of light as the candle lighting includes an additional candle each worship day and as anticipation builds for the celebration of Christ’s second coming. Some congregations attribute particular meaning to individual candles, associating them with peace, joy, love, and light; with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi; or with other related aspects of Christ’s coming. These associations may be helpful for a congregation at a particular time, but they are not in any way necessary to a worshipful celebration. Similarly, a tradition calling for the third candle to be pink is not especially important. It is based on a medieval tradition in which the second to last Sunday of Advent (and Lent) accented Christian joy in the middle of a penitential season." (TWS, pp. 432-433)

We encourage you to explain to the congregation that the lighting of the candles and the service of renewal will follow essentially the same format for each of the weeks of Advent. We also suggest that you include a variety of persons in the readings and the lighting of the candles. Include all ages. Include families, singles, and several generations of people.

The complete information for all five weeks is included here. This material is found in The Worship Sourcebook (p. 433). Each week new readings are added to increase the spirit of anticipation and to provide more complete revelation of the purpose of the coming of the Messiah.

Lighting the Advent Candles: from TWS, page 433, D.1.4.27)

A series of readings from Isaiah
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world;
the one who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
We light this candle [these candles] as a sign of the coming light of Christ.

[on the First Sunday of Advent and at each successive lighting]
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.
—Isaiah 9:2, NRSV

[on the Second Sunday of Advent and at each successive lighting]
I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by the paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do
and I will not forsake them.
—Isaiah 42:16, NRSV

[on the Third Sunday of Advent and at each successive lighting]
The LORD says to his servant,
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
—from Isaiah 49:6, NRSV

[on the Fourth Sunday of Advent and at each successive lighting]
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
—Isaiah 58:8, NRSV

[on the eve of Christmas or on Christmas Day]
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For the darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your dawn.
—Isaiah 6-0:1-3 NRSV

[on each occasion the candle lighting is concluded as follows.]
Come, Lord Jesus, our light and our salvation.
Let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Sermon Notes

1. Suppose that you are driving a long distance on your way back home from a large Thanksgiving Day family reunion. You feel fatigued, somewhat bored, and you find it hard to concentrate on traffic. You’ve set your cruise well above the speed limit. Unexpectedly you spot a Highway Patrol car coming up fast behind you, lights flashing. Suddenly you become completely alert with your eyes wide open, and your edge of sharpness has returned. You are jarred to alertness in what we call a "wake-up moment." Such is the intent and spirit of both the season of Advent and the prophecy of Micah; it is a wake-up call to those who have lost their edge of spiritual alertness.

2. Micah's wake-up call becomes clearer when we review his location in history, approximately 700 years before Christ. This prophet from a small rural village sees the evil and apostasy in Jerusalem and Samaria. A quick walk-through of the book shows the judgments of God he brings, yet in the closing verses (7:18-20) he highlights his strong note of hope. (You will find helpful material about this powerful book in New International Biblical Commentary: Minor Prophets I by Elizabeth Achtemeier [Hendrickson Publishers, 1996, pages 287-369]).

3. His wake-up call is captured in the intensity of the words of our text, Micah 1:2-3. Amos utters similar words in 4:12. We can only imagine (and ought to try to describe) the feelings of both fear and defensiveness that this announcement must have stirred up in the hearts of his hearers. Many felt the same way when Jesus announced himself to be the Son of God/Messiah. The Bible says many similar feelings will be stirred up when he comes again!

4. God's complaints are both with the people and with the leaders of the people. He is displeased with their worship (see 1:3, "he treads the high places…." and 6:6, 7). He is also displeased with the corruption of their society (see 2:1, 2 and 7:1-6).

5. All of this sets the stage for a series of messages, and an Advent season, that is a wake-up call so that we can experience God's hope.

Music Notes

The prelude suggestions are based on “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” - they can be find in the following resources:

DIVINUM MYSTERIUM [“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”]

  • Organ:
    • Below, Robert. Organ Music for the Seasons, vol. 2. Augsburg 11-11010 [1999] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Gotta Toccata. Augsburg 11-11008 [1999] (D)
    • Cherwien, David. Seasonal InterpretationsAdvent/Christmas. Summa Productions SP-110 [1997] (E-M)
    • Held, Wilbur. Augsburg Organ Library – Christmas. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-5935-X [2001] (E-M)
    • Johnson, David. Augsburg Organ Library – Christmas. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-5935-X [2001] (E-M)
    • Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002] (E-M)
    • Lovelace, Austin C. Triptych and Pastorale on Divinum Mysterium. Concordia 97-6300 [1994] (E-M)
    • Near, Gerald. Chantworks, set 1. Aureole Editions AE42 [1997] (M)
    • Purvis, Richard. Eleven Pieces for the Church Organ. MCA Music 03257-068 [1957] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Carols for Piano. Hope 232 [1987] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Gramann, Fred. Divinum Mysterium. Lorenz HB332 [1991] (3-4 octaves, E-M)

The Introit “Prepare Ye” by Marc A. Robinson is published by Kjos 8830 [1996] for SATB choir with solo and percussion. (E-M)

The sung response to the Assurance of Pardon will be the same through the Advent season. We are suggesting using the refrain and the third verse of “Halle, Halle Hallelujah!” (SNC 44). The refrain would both begin and end this response.

The instrumental suggestions for offertory music can be found in the following:

VENI IMMANUEL [“O Come, O Come, Immanuel”]

  • Organ:
    • Behnke, John A. Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel. CPH 97-6909 [2001] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Advent/Christmas. Summa Productions SP-110 [1997] (E-M)
    • Ferguson, John. An Advent Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-008 [1995] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. Five Organ Preludes. Flammer HF5094 [1977] (E-M)
    • Kerr, J. Wayne. Christ Is Born! Augsburg 11-11037 [2000] (E-M)
    • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice,. vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (E, adaptable for piano)
    • Near, Gerald. Chantworks, set 1. Aureole Editions AE42 [1997] (M)
    • Powell, Robert J. (1995) Augsburg Organ Library – Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000] (E-M)
    • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Hamilton, Gregory. As the Grains of Wheat. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M)
    • Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (M)
  • Handbells:
    • Dobrinski, Cynthia. O Come, O Come Immanuel. Agape 1399 [1989] (3-5 octaves, M)

The offertory anthem suggestion “When God’s Time Has Ripened” by Alfred Fedak is published by Selah 405-214 [1992] for SATB choir and keyboard. (E-M)

The postlude suggestion on “The People Who in Darkness Walked” can be found in the following collections:

LOBT GOTT, IHR CHRISTEN [The People Who in Darkness Walked]

  • Organ:
    • Bach, J.S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider). Ditson [1933] (E-M)
    • Buxtehude, Dietrich. Anthologia Antiqua, bk. 5. Fischer 8090 [1945] (E-M)
    • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 7. Concordia 97-5308 [1975] (E-M)

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

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