This fourth week of Advent highlights the arrival of the Messiah in the world, the birth of he who is to become Israel’s Ruler, bringing salvation and hope to his people. In this passage Micah addresses the little town of Bethlehem-Ephrathah, a village several miles from Jerusalem. An older name for Bethlehem and the surrounding area was Ephrathah (or also Ephrath, Gen. 35.16-19; 48.7). There was nothing striking about this little town, as Micah recounts, it was “small among the clans of Judah” (v. 2). Still, it held place in Jewish lore since David was born in Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16.1, 18-19; 17.12).
Yet, though small and insignificant, out of this village would come for the LORD the one who was destined to the Messiah-Ruler, the one anointed by God to deliver his people, the very one, too, who would become Israel’s “Ruler” whose origins (lit., “goings out,”) are from old, from ancient times, literally “from days of eternity.” Amazingly, the one for whom Israel waited, whose “goings out” in creation, in theophanies, and in salvation promise have been from “days of immeasurable time” (NIV translation), is none other than the babe of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ. He will shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, and his people will dwell securely in his kingdom rule that reaches to the ends of the earth.
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Show us, O Lord, thy glory shining through the veil of our flesh, and reveal unto us the lowliness and gentleness of Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, and took upon him the form of a servant, that he might deliver us from every bondage, and enrich us with the treasures of thy grace. Amen.
~ Roman Missal (Ferguson, p. 31)
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord's Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
~ The Priest’s Prayer Book (Ferguson, p. 20)
Affirmation for the Day
In the global kingdom in which he rules, the Messiah will be its peace.
Pray without Ceasing - Flash Prayer for the Day
O God, we welcome the arrival of your King-Messiah into the world, the one whom you have chosen to be Savior and Lord over your people and the nations, Jesus our Lord.