Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
December 13, 2020
Welcome in the name of the one who is Peace. Today we light the candle of Peace on this third Sunday of Advent as one of many congregations from around the world. Our hearts beat as one to the rhythm of shalom. May we continue this journey of Advent together, not only assured of the peace that comes from our walk with the Divine, but expectant that what is being birthed within us will become a blessing to others. Welcome!
Lord, many in our world experience daily stress, distress and even devastation. Many things often seem out of our control. If we are to be honest, we sometimes find ourselves crying out, “God, where are you in all of this?” Still our minds so that we may hear the beating of our hearts.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
In the rhythm of our collective heartbeats allow us to hear you whisper, “I am here. The peace you seek lies within each of you.” You, Lord, are shalom. Help us to acknowledge your presence within us. Lead us to speak words and act in ways that bring comfort, provide relief, ignite hope, and facilitate peace so that our lives may mirror the Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Good News! We could all use some Good News. Something wonderful is about to happen! A change is coming! A light, a Shalom, a king! Not just any king, but the King of kings. There will be no end to his kingdom and he shall rule with justice and righteousness. We praise his name.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Handel’s Messiah, “For Unto us a Child is Born” performed by the New Apostolic Church Choirs and Orchestra
In this world we live in, it is easy for us to become discouraged fall into despair. It is easy to see the bad in the world. But, we must not let this happen. We have the promise, and God’s promises are sure. The Kingdom established by Jesus will never end. He shall reign with justice and peace. This is not just talking about heaven. This is prophesy for right here on the earth. The time is coming near when it will be fulfilled. We must not become complacent, fearful or discouraged. We are to bear the Good News to all who will listen.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 – Good News Translation
The Sovereign LORD has filled me with his Spirit.
He has chosen me and sent me
To bring good news to the poor,
To heal the broken-hearted,
To announce release to captives
He has sent me to proclaim
That the time has come
When the LORD will save his people
And defeat their enemies.
He has sent me to comfort all who mourn,
To give to those who mourn in Zion
Joy and gladness instead of grief,
A song of praise instead of sorrow.
They will be like trees
That the LORD himself has planted.
They will all do what is right,
And God will be praised for what he has done.
They will rebuild cities that have long been in ruins.
The LORD says,
“I love justice and I hate oppression and crime.
I will faithfully reward my people
And make an eternal covenant with them.
They will be famous among the nations;
Everyone who sees them will know
That they are a people whom I have blessed.”
Jerusalem rejoices because of what the LORD has done.
She is like a bride dressed for her wedding.
God has clothed her with salvation and victory.
As surely as seeds sprout and grow,
The Sovereign LORD will save his people,
And all the nations will praise him.
The Good News is that God loves us and cares about us. He is personally invested in each of us. We can be restored to righteous, healthy relationships to God, self, others, earth and all creation. The Good News is not word alone, but the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. As Jesus’ spirit is in us, we have become his flesh, uplifting the poor in our societies, healing to the broken-hearted, and freedom to those in sin.
So, let us sing his praise. Let us dance for joy. Let us live the Good News! Let us proclaim that God is with us! Immanuel!
Emmanuel performed by Amy Grant
Seek the child with God’s blessing. Amen.
This service was prepared by Cliff and Wendy Danville.