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The Gift of Hope - 1 Peter 1

A service plan in an Advent series in preparation for Christmas focused on the hope and assurance we have in Christ.

The Gifts of Christmas

Theme of the Service

The theme this week is the gift of hope. As we move closer to the day of Christ's birth, the flame of hope begins to burn more brightly. Hope, which fueled the ministry of the prophets and the worship of Israel, must mark us as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth and look forward to his return.

As we worship today
we grow in the hope God has given us.


Prelude: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" [see<href="#music"> music notes]
"As with Gladness Men of Old"

Introit: "Sing of the Lord's Goodness," Carter [see <href="#music">music notes]

*The Call to Worship
Tell it from the mountains to the sea,
the greatness of God's grace.
God is doing wonderful things,
comforting those who grieve,
giving us days in his mercy,
filling our hearts and the hearts of our children,
providing help in trouble and new beginnings,
bringing reconciliation where there was brokenness,
causing healing in our bodies and our souls,
sending songs of joy to awaken life.
Tell it out, people of God,
the greatness of God and his grace.

*Song of Hope: "As with Gladness Men of Old" (st. 1, 4, 5) PH 63, PsH 358, RL 228, SFL 143, TH 226, TWC 181 [see <href="#music">music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (st. 2-3) PH 31/32, PsH 345, RL 196, TH 203, TWC 171, UMH 240 [see <href="#music">music notes]


A Reading from Isaiah 43:1-3

*A Reading from John 1:1-5, 10-14

*Song: "Gloria, Gloria" SNC 115, SFL 134, UMH 72, WOV 640

Lighting Three Candles

Sung Prayer ("O Little Town of Bethlehem," st. 4) PH 43, 44, RL 193, 194, TH 201, 202, TWC 154, 155, UMH 230
O holy Child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in: be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel.

Anthem: "Every Valley," Beck [see<href="#music"> music notes]


The Call to Confession
As we prepare for Christ's coming
let us make our confessions to God.

Our Prayer of Confession
Lord God, our lives are filled with sin.
We forget our neighbor's needs
and do not love you above all else.
We need a Savior.
Help us to be ready for Jesus in our own hearts.
O come, O come, Savior of the world. Amen.

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.

God's Call to Grateful Living
Let us hear God's word as it calls us to new obedience.
What is the great and first commandment?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.
What is the second commandment like it?
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What does this mean?
Love is the fulfilling of the law.
To what does this call us?
To a life of faith working through love. (based on Matt. 22:37-40)

*Song of Dedication: "Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels" PH 531, SNC 275, TWC 597


The Prayers of the People

The Offertory: "What Child Is This?" [see <href="#music">music notes]

The Offering


The Children's Moment

*Song: "Little Baby Jesus" (st. 1-4) SFL 141

The Prayer for Illumination
Make us to know your ways, O Lord;
teach us your paths.
Lead us in your truth, and teach us,
for you are the God of our salvation;
for you we wait all day long.

The Reading of Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "The Gift of Hope" (The Gifts of Christmas - #3)

The Prayer of Application


*Our United Profession of Faith: The Apostles' Creed

*The Benediction
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

*Song: "A Shout Rings Out, a Joyful Voice" (st. 1-4) PsH 392
or "View the Present through the Promise" SNC 90

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune," Laubengayer [see <href="#music">music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. Begin with a quick review of the first two elements in this series of messages-anticipation and patience. This should be very brief, but enough so that the congregation can once again step into the flow of thought for the series.
  2. The development of this sermon could move through three steps: a clarification of what hope is, an exposition of the text to show how hope is at the heart of our faith, and a discussion on the ways in which our hope can grow and mature.
  3. In establishing the definition of hope, it's necessary to distinguish between optimism (choosing to look on the bright side of things), a wish (an expression of desires we may have), and guarantee (evidence that makes us sure). Hope, as Peter talks about it, is the latter.
  4. In the Scripture passage Peter builds his idea of hope on three realities that lift it above the realm of "optimism" and "wish" to the level of "guarantee." Those three realities are
    • the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see v. 3).
    • the promise of a "kept inheritance" (see v. 4).
    • the promise that we are "shielded" by God's power (see v. 5).
    Those three together create a living hope, Peter says. Multiple illustrations from the lives of biblical characters and believers today will portray and reinforce our awareness of this hope.
  5. Since Peter is writing to Christians who are having a tough time of it in a culture that is not friendly to their faith, it's a legitimate question to ask how we can increase or grow our sense of hope when it gets thin. So Christians, through Peter's writings, are taught to look at God's actions in the past as evidence of his faithfulness to his people; to look at the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ as clinching proof of God's reliability today; and to exercise our faith in him (vv. 6-9).

Music Notes:

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)

1. The music suggestions for the prelude, based on "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing"
[MENDELSSOHN] and "As with Gladness Men of Old" [DIX], can be found in the following sources:



  • Barr, John G. Meditation on "I Wonder as I Wander" and Prelude on " Hark the Herald Angels Sing." H.W. Grey GSTC 01053 [1934]. (Could be adapted to include solo bass instrument, E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Christmas Preludes. Morningstar MSM-10-145 [2000] (E-M).
  • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. Agape 1654 [1993] (3-5 octaves, M).



  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).
  • Ferguson, John. A Thanksgiving Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-603 [2001] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. 6 Hymn Settings for Epiphany. Morningstar MSM-10-206 [1999] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 5. SMP KK323 [1984] (adaptable for piano (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Three for Epiphany. Morningstar MSM-10-203 [1992] (E-M).
  • Wold, Wayne L. God with Us. Augsburg 11-10975 [1999] (E-M).


  • Honoré, Jeffrey. Dance Africana on "Dix." CPH 97-6745 [1999] (3-5 octaves with optional percussion, level 2).
  • Kinyon, Barbara. Thanksgiving Bells. Agape 1341 [1988] (2-3 octaves, E-M).

2. The introit "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" was arranged by John Carter for SATB voices and is published by Hope C 5110 [2001] (E-M).

3. Alternative harmonizations for organ on the opening hymn "As with Gladness, Men of Old" can be found in

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980].
  • Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0-19-323210-3 [1937].

4. Alternative harmonizations for organ on "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" can be found in

  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].
  • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964].

5. The sung prayer can be sung to either ST. LOUIS or FOREST GREEN for the entirety of the Advent series.

6. The SATB anthem "Every Valley" by John Ness Beck is published by Beckenhorst BP 1040 [1976] (E-M).

7. The song of dedication, "Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels," is a congregational setting of the choral anthem used in a previous service of this series.

8. The offertory suggestions are based on "What Child Is This?" [GREENSLEEVES]:


  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Christmas Preludes. Morningstar MSM-10-145 [2000] (E-M).
  • Purvis, Richard. Eleven Pieces for the Church Organ. MCA Music 03257-068 [1957] (E-M).
  • Visser, Larry. Noels on Christmas Themes. Leupold WL600090 [1998] (E-M).
  • Wright, Searle. Carol-Prelude on Greensleeves. H.W. Grey 798 [1954] (could adapt to include a bass solo instrument, E-M).


  • Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (E-M).
  • Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (E).


  • Helman, Michael. What Child Is This? AGEHR AG35161 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 3).
  • Reynolds, Scott. What Child Is This? Malcolm HP-5196 [1986] (3-5 octaves with flute, E-M).

9. The organ postlude, "Trumpet Tune" by Paul Laubengayer, is found in 3 Pieces for Organ, published by Morningstar MSM-10-953 [2000] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Because we are moving closer to Christmas, the gradual shift from Advent to Christmas should begin. Worship leaders can facilitate this shift by their spoken transitional comments between different elements in worship, such as the call to worship, the call to confession, and the prayers.
  2. We encourage you to keep the subject of the children's moment consistent with the sermon. It may be a little more difficult this week for children to understand the concept of hope, but they surely can identify how they feel when they really hope something will happen or come to them. Illustrations will help you portray for them the difference between hopes that are "blind" and very uncertain (Will I make it on the basketball team?), and those that are firm and sure (Will my mother have supper for me tonight?).
  3. Notice again that the service of renewal and the prayer for illumination are the same as the previous two weeks to give continuity to the Advent season.
    The intent of the last section of the service is that we respond to God's Word by giving expression and testimony to our firm hope as we are dismissed to leave and live it out. We have suggested the Apostles' Creed as a united profession; you may wish to use some other creed, confession, or passage for unison reading. Sections from Psalm 146, Romans 8, 2 Peter 3, or Revelation 22 would be useful for this purpose. Or you may wish to use articles 1, 2, 5, 6, 13, or 56-58 from Our World Belongs to God, a contemporary testimony adopted by the Christian Reformed Church.