The Gift of Revelation - Hebrews 1

A service plan in an Advent series in preparation for Christmas focused on God's revelation and how he makes himself known to us through Christ.

The Gifts of Christmas

Theme of the Service

The theme of this service is the gift of revelation. All the attention in this service is focused on the fact that God makes himself known. As a revealing God he has taken us into confidence, explained himself and his plan for redemption to us, and given us the right to know him. God's revelation is a special gift that we celebrate in the season of Advent.

* * *

We worship together today because "in these last days
God has spoken to us by his Son."
(Hebrews 1:2)

WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Prelude: "Noel Nouvelet"
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" [see <href="#music">music notes]

Introit: "When God's Time Had Ripened," Fedak [see <href="#music">music notes]

*The Call to Worship
Our souls magnify the Lord!
Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior!
The mighty One has done great things for us!
Holy is God's name!
Let us worship God.
For God is our Maker and our Redeemer;
from generation to generation God gives mercy.
(based on Luke 1:46-50)

*Song: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" PH 41, PsH 340, RL 195, TH 208, TWC 173, UMH 234

*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.
Amen!

*Response: "Magnify the Lord" PsH 622, RN 131, SFL 13


WE PREPARE FOR CHRIST'S COMING

A Reading from Isaiah 7:10-16

*A Reading from Matthew 1:18-25

*Song: "Gloria, Gloria" SNC 115, SFL 134

Lighting Four 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.


WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE

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" SNC 275
or "He Came Down" SNC 92


WE OFFER OUR PRAYERS AND OUR GIFTS

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory: "Of the Father's Love Begotten" [see <href="#music">music notes]
or "O Word of God Incarnate"

The Offering


GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH HIS WORD

The Children's Moment

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

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.
Amen.

Anthem: "The Glory of the Father," Hovland [see <href="#music">music notes]

The Reading of Scripture: John 1:1-5, 14-18; Hebrews 1:1-4
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "The Gift of Revelation"
(The Gifts of Christmas #4)

The Prayer of Application
Sung: "O Word of God Incarnate" PH 327, PsH 279, RL 387, TH 140, TWC 310, UMH 598
Spoken


WE GO OUT TO SERVE THE LORD

*Song: "Tell Out, My Soul" PsH 478, RL 182, TH 26, TWC 350, UMH 200
or "Song of Mary/My Soul Proclaims with Wonder" SNC 102

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*The Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Tell Out, My Soul" [see <href="#music">music notes]

* you are invited to stand


Sermon Notes:

  1. It usually is helpful to begin each new sermon with a brief recap of the main intent of a series of messages, and to briefly mention the sermons and themes that have been dealt with so far.
  2. The theme of this sermon can be introduced by identifying what all hearers already know—that relationships are built on communication. If people are to be in relationship with each other they must communicate with each other. That involves disclosing themselves, their thoughts, their plans, and so on, and doing so in a variety of ways. Both negative and positive illustrations will make this point clear in only a sentence or two.
  3. God is a communicator. He reveals himself. God does not desire to remain forever undisclosed and unknown. Agnosticism and skepticism are unfounded. The first part of our text in Hebrews 1 (vs. 1) tells us that God has been revealing himself and his plans throughout history in many different ways, primarily through the prophets. All through history he has proven himself to be a communicator. Many supportive examples can be provided.
  4. Christmas must be seen as a communication/revelation event, though in a different form. God spoke by his Son—a superior way of communicating. Hebrews 1:2b-4 gives a description of Jesus Christ the Son.
  5. John 1 is another key passage that sheds light on Jesus Christ as the "word," i.e. the means by which God reveals and discloses himself to us. God's best communication takes place through incarnation (John 1:14-18).
  6. Communication/revelation always needs a response. Genuine communication is two-way. And so our accountability for responding to God's revelation must be considered. How well we listen to his voice, how well we block out other competing voices, how carefully and accurately we listen, and what we say in return must be considered.
  7. Among all our gifts from God, one of his greatest is his willingness to reveal himself to us and to do so through his Son.

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 "Sing We Now of Christmas/Now the Green Blade Riseth" [NOEL NOUVELET] and "O Come, All Ye Faithful" [ADESTE FIDELES] can be found in the following sources:

    NOEL NOUVELET
    Organ:

    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 1. AMSI OR1 [1980] (E-M).
    • Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Lent-Easter. Summa SP-112 [1998] (E-M).
    • Dupre, Marcel. Variations Sur un Noel. Alphonse Leduc (D).
    • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M).
    • Kerr, J. Wayne. Christ Is Born! Augsburg 11-11037 [2000] (E-M).
    • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M).
    • Sedio, Mark. Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M).

    Piano:

      • Carter, John. Still More Carols for Piano. Hope 8175 [2002] (E-M).

    Organ and Piano Duet:

      • Hopson, Hal H. French Carol Miniatures. SMP KK113 [1978] (E-M).

    Handbells:

      • McChesney, Kevin. Now the Green Blade Riseth. Agape 1892 [1997] (3-5 octaves with optional SATB Choir, level 3).
      • Price, Terry. A Carol for All Seasons. Agape 1272 [1987] (3-5 octaves, E-M).

    ADESTE FIDELES
    Organ:

      • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Christmas Hymn Improvisations, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-137 [1998] (E-M).
      • Callahan, Charles. A Christmas Suite. Morningstar MSM-10-109 [1990] (E-M).
      • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Adeste Fideles. Concordia 97-5992 [1988] (M).
      • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 2. AMSI OR-3 [1981] (M).
      • Dupre, Marcel. Variations on Adeste Fideles. (Smith) H.W. Grey GSTC 982 (D).
      • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (E-M, could be adapted for piano).
      • Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M, could be adapted for piano).

    Handbells:

      • Wagner, Douglas E. O Come, All Ye Faithful. Agape 1262 [1986] (3-5 octaves, M).
  2. The introit, "When God's Time Had Ripened" by Alfred Fedak for SATB voices, is published by Selah 405-214 [1992] (E-M).
  3. Alternative harmonizations for organ on the opening hymn "O Come, All Ye Faithful" can be found in:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
    • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].
  4. The sung prayer can be sung to either ST. LOUIS or FOREST GREEN for the entirety of the Advent series.
  5. 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.
  6. The offertory suggestions are based on "Of the Father's Love Begotten" [DIVINUM MYSTERIUM] and "O Word of God Incarnate" [MUNICH].

DIVINUM MYSTERIUM
Organ:

  • Held, Wilbur. Augsburg Organ Library - Christmas. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-5935-X [2001] (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] (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).

MUNICH
Organ:

  • Clarke, Andrew. Chorale Prelude on Munich. Morningstar MSM-10-568 [2004] (E-M).
  • Rotermund, Donald. Seven Hymn Preludes, set 3. Concordia 97-6243 [1993] (E-M).
  1. The unaccompanied SATB anthem "The Glory of the Father" by Egil Hovland is published by Walton 2973 [1974] and is based on John 1 (E-M).
  2. The organ postlude, "Tell Out, My Soul" [WOODLANDS] can be found in the following sources:
    • Cherwien, David. Two Hymntune Preludes. GIA G-4477 [1997].
    • Kerr, J. Wayne. Christ Is Born! Augsburg 11-11037 [2000].
    • Manz, Paul. Six Advent Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-002 [1990].
    • Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994].
      (Note that the Manz arrangement can also serve well as an introduction to the closing hymn.)

Liturgy Notes:

  1. The call to worship has been taken from The Worship Sourcebook (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Baker Books, 2004) page 425, number 10.
  2. Notice again that the service of candle lighting, the service of renewal, and the prayer for illumination are the same as the previous three weeks to give continuity to the Advent season.
  3. We suggest that the children's moment incorporate the general theme of this service. Attempt to help children understand that God was busy telling us about himself when he sent Jesus into the world. Think of examples of how people have told you about themselves and what you learned. Then think of examples of how they told you a lot about themselves by the gift(s) that they gave you. In the same way, we learn who God is by the gift (Jesus) that he gave us. Think (or wonder with them) about what some of the things we might learn about God could be.

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