Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 20, 2015
Mass at 11:00 a.m. Readings: Micah 5:1-5a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:29-55. Pastor George Detweiler preaches and presides.
With the fourth Sunday of Advent, our attention begins to shift from the Lord’s return at the end of time to his birth. For Christians, that birth in Bethlehem becomes the object of Micah’s prophecy. This was written before the people of Israel were exiled in Babylon. As the political situation deteriorated, hopes grew for a better future, hopes that are expressed by the prophet.
The reading from Hebrews emphasizes the importance of the Incarnation, God taking on human flesh and blood in Jesus. As the son of God among us, he could offer himself as a sacrifice that replaced once for all the need for literal sacrifices.
After the angel Gabriel tells Mary she is to give birth to the don of God, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Filled with excitement, Mary sings the Magnificat, which only Luke records. This is the primary New Testament expression of the Hebrew scriptures’ theme of the reversal of fortunes, of God scattering the proud, casting down the mighty and lifting up the lowly. These words are sung by Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as a female teenager, was of little apparent importance. But she was the one chosen to be the mother of the Son of God. It is that unlikely choosing that she celebrates in this song which has echoes of the Hebrew scriptures.
Mary’s song of praise is the centerpiece this Sunday, serving also as the psalm. In proclaiming the greatness of the Lord, she recalls the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” She magnifies the Lord, not herself. God alone is great and the tragedies of those who believe otherwise are everywhere evident. Mary prepares us to proclaim the gift of God’s son, Jesus Christ.
In a time like this, we want God to come to our aid, to remember the promise of mercy made to God’s people, and to us. What are our hopes for the future, and how can they be fulfilled?
Bach Vespers at 5:00 PM on Sunday
Our Annual Lessons and Carols program, “What Sweeter Music” will include music for choir, harp and organ.
Music for Sunday
Prelude: Veni, Emmanuel – Flor Peters
Offertory: Ave Maria – Robert Parsons
Communion: A Spotless Rose – Herbert Howells
Postlude: Veni, Emmanuel – Heathcote Stratham
Sing of Mary, Pure and Lowly
#265 The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
#248 People, Look East
Holy Trinity, like many churches, is challenged to make and stick to a budget without really knowing our income. We estimate annual giving and sometime we guess too much. Even though we know that December giving is the highest of any month, we are still left hoping it will be enough. (This is why your pledge of annual giving is so important.) This year, based on our projections, December would have to extraordinary for us to hit our giving goal.
Will you make this December extraordinary? We are asking you to prayerfully consider your December giving to Holy Trinity, and making an extra year-end gift to express your joyful response to God’s many gifts to you in this Christmas season. IF you wish to make an online gift, please click here.
As the Call Committee gets ready to begin its work of interviewing pastoral candidates, it is especially important that we can present ourselves as financially stable. An important indicator of financial stability is closing the year without a deficit. Your gift matters!
Scripture Readings – Week after Advent 4
Monday – Micah 5:4 – What is comforting about this verse’s imagery?
Tuesday – Luke 1:48 – How do you identify (or not) with the lowliness of Mary?
Wednesday – Luke 1:50 – What are the implications of this verse?
Thursday – Luke 1:52 – Is this verse comforting or frightening? How?
Friday – Luke 1:54-55 – What does this verse indicate about God’s promises?
Saturday – Luke 1:42 – What famous prayer is based on this verse?
Sunday – Luke 1:45 – How can we be similarly blessed?