Reconciling All Things 2018

A service of lessons and carols that invites people to approach Advent and Christmas with songs that sing about both forgiveness and justice, healing and correction, personal serenity and cultural reconciliation, human flourishing and the flourishing of all creation.


For in Jesus Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:19–20

The boldness of Paul’s claim here is arresting: in Jesus, all the fullness of God dwells. Through Jesus, God reconciles to himself all things. The breadth of this vision surpasses human understanding, supplanting any simple or sentimental vision of the meaning of Advent and Christmas, and forever changing the scope and tone of our worship.

This is a vision that invites us to approach Advent and Christmas with songs that sing about both forgiveness and justice, healing and correction, personal serenity and cultural reconciliation, human flourishing and the flourishing of all creation. And it invites us to sing music that ranges from an aching lament that echoes the Spirit’s groaning in all creation, to a majestic song of adoration that echoes angelic praise over the hills of Bethlehem.

It also means that we can engage the world’s deepest terror in our song. The music includes texts and tunes forged in contexts of violence, injustice, and trauma—by text and tune writers who lived in Nazi occupied Germany, in the shadow of the South African apartheid, and in the context of the forced separation of families between North Korea and South Korea.

In a world filled with so much violence, injustice, and trauma, may the Holy Spirit encourage us in this Advent season with the breadth of this vision of reconciliation and equip us to live in this world as instruments of Christ’s reconciling peace.

Reconciling All Things

Organ Prelude:
I. Festive Gloria  (Aaron David Miller)
II. Variations on “When the King Shall Come Again”  (Michael Burkhardt)
III. Marche Réligieuse  (Alexandre Guilmant)
[on the theme of the chorus Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates from Handel’s The Messiah]

Quiet

Choral Introit: Rejoice, Ye Good People from Sechs Sprüche, Op. 79, No. 1: Weinachten   (Felix Mendelssohn)

Processional Hymn: Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes  (Lift Up Your Hearts)

Greeting

          Pastor:       Our help is in the name of the Lord,
          All:
             who made the heavens and the earth.

           Pastor:      The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
                             and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
          All:             Amen.

Bidding Prayer

          Pastor:      Beloved in Christ, as we await the great festival of Christmas, 
                            we prepare ourselves so that we may perceive its true meaning. 
                            We have gathered to hear, in readings from the holy scriptures, 
                            how the prophets of Israel foretold that God would visit and 
                            redeem his waiting people. We rehearse again the account of 
                            the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience 
                            to the glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
                            We rejoice, in carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God 
                            is being mightily fulfilled: 
                            the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, 
                            the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up. 
                            But first, we pray for the world which God so loves; 
                            for those who have not heard the good news of God, 
                            or who do not believe it; 
                            for those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death; 
                            and for the church in this place and everywhere, 
                            that it may be freed from all evil and fear, 
                            and may, in pure joy, lift up the light of the love of God.  
                            These prayers we humbly offer 
                            as we meditate on the readings from holy scripture, 
                            and also now, in the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.

          All:            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.
                            Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
                            Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
                            For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

                            Amen!

I. The Coming of the Messiah and the End of Violence

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming  (arr. Hugo Distler)

By Gracious Powers  (John Ferguson)

II. The Advent of a Redeemer and Justification from Sin

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Sussex Carol  (arr. Daniel Powers)

Rise, Shine, You People  (arr. Michael Burkhardt)

III. The Messiah’s Ministry of Healing

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Comfort, Comfort Now My People  (arr. Michael Culloton)

When the King Shall Come Again  (arr. John Ferguson)

IV. The Reconciliation of Nations and Cultures

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

오소서 오소서 / Come Now, O Prince of Peace  (arr. Joel Navarro)

朋友, 听! / Peng You, Ting!  (arr. Carolyn Jennings)

V. The Coming of the Messiah and the End of Slavery and Oppression

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

O Holy Night  (arr. Roy Ringwald)

VI. The Advent of the Messiah and the Redemption of All Creation

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Angels from the Realms of Glory  (arr. Dan Forrest)

Joy to the World arr. John Rutter  (Lift Up Your Hearts, 92)

VII. Christ’s Ministry of Reconciliation

          Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Hope for Resolution  (arr. Sean Ivory and Paul Caldwell)       

When All Is Ended  (William P. Rowan)

Peace Prayer of St. Francis  (adapt. Peter Latona)

Benediction  (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)

          Pastor:       May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit                              and soul body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord                                Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

          All:             Alleluia! Amen.

Recessional Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Lift Up Your Hearts, 80)

Organ Postlude: Grand Choeur Dialogué (Eugène Gigout)

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