December 23, 2018
Before We Worship
Our Advent meditations have so far focused on Hope, Peace, and Joy. This week we celebrate the gift of God’s Love.
Our first Scripture reading is from Exodus 34:1–10. God had delivered Israel out of Egypt, and brought them to Mount Sinai. There the LORD ratified his covenant with Israel with the Ten Commandments, which were the terms of the covenant between the LORD and Israel. However, while Moses was communing with the LORD, Israel was bowing down to the golden calf. When Moses returned from meeting with the LORD, he “threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.” This indicated the covenant between the LORD and Israel was broken because of Israel’s idolatry. And because of this, Israel’s future was bleak. How can it not be? They had made the Creator of the universe and the Holy God who cannot abide sin their enemy.
But in Exodus 34 the LORD invites Moses back up to Mount Sinai, and declares these words to him: “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”” Israel’s idolatry should have put an end to God’s favor. But God responded to Israel’s sinful rebellion with love. His love was what saved a sinful people doomed to face judgment.
Indeed, in time God’s Love became a human baby. The birth of Jesus Christ brings to the sinful and fallen mankind the love that overcomes all sin. Jesus’ birth brings to us that faithfulness of God. That is why when we celebrate Christ’s Advent, we celebrate God’s love.
What, then, is our response to God’s love for us? John 13:34–35 tells us. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We can speak eloquently about the beauty of love without every loving anyone in particular. For to love someone as God has loved us in Christ is to love in a costly way. It means to love someone who is not lovable. It means to do good to someone who has not done us any good, or perhaps, who has done us ill. Do you love as God has loved you?
Thus we repent. And believe. May we not merely love the idea of love. But may we love the people that God has placed around us. Do not seek to go to far away places to love some strangers you have not met. Love instead the people that are near you today. For this is how we celebrate Christ’s Advent.
Call to Worship
‡ Exodus 34:1–10 (p. 74)
‡ Trinity Hymnal #233 “To Us a Child of Hope Is Born”
‡ Trinity Hymnal #731 “Doxology”
Prayer of Invocation
The Reading and Exposition of the Law
John 13:34–35 (p. 900)
The Apostles’ Creed
Prayer of Confession
The Proclamation of the Gospel
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:19–20 ESV)
Trinity Hymnal #211“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”
Presentation of Gifts and Offering
The Proclamation of God’s Word
1 John 3:1–3 (p. 1022)
What Kind of Love Is This?
Rev. Ken Han
The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper
We participate in the Lord’s Supper weekly. We welcome to the Lord’s Table all baptized believers who have sincere faith in Jesus Christ, and regularly worship in a Reformed or evangelical church.
The Lord’s Supper is a sign and a seal of the new covenant blessings. When we participate in the Lord’s Supper with faith, it strengthens our bond with our covenant Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus we participate properly when we come to our Savior with faith and repentance as we renew our resolve to forsake sin and live for his glory.
The Lord’s Supper also renews our bonds with God’s covenant community, the body of believers in the local church. As we receive the Lord’s Supper, we renew our pledge to give ourselves away in loving service.
During the distribution of the bread we will sing Trinity Hymnal #193 “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and Trinity Hymnal #232 “O Jesus Sweet, O Jesus Mild” during the distribution of the cup.
Trinity Hymnal #218 “Angels, from the Realm of Glory”
Family Devotion for the Week
Upcoming Events and Notices
Every Lord’s Day 10:15 AM: Please join us for Hymnsing, a time of preparing our hearts for worship in praise, and for learning new hymns for worship.
Join us for “12 for 19” as we read 12 great books in the year 2019. For January December we will read Dennis Johnson’s “Journeys with Jesus: Every Path in the Bible Leads Us to Christ.”
The Children’s Catechism Lessons and the Shorter Catechism Lessons will resume in January.
December 22 (Saturday 1PM): Please mark your calendar for Christmas fellowship. Come, and invite your family and friends, for a time of celebration, music, and food!
(Nursery meets in the Conference Room)
December 23: Children with Parents
December 30: Liza Beede